Radio host and Fishing’s Future organizer Phil Taunton, of Council Grove, announced this week he is prematurely opening the summer-long 2020 What’s in Outdoors Youth Outdoor Experience Contest as a way to get kids into nature during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.


The contest is open to youths 17 and under who live in Chase, Dickinson, Geary, Lyon, Marion, Morris, Pottawatomie, Riley, Shawnee and Wabaunsee counties and will run through Aug. 31, with the grand prize being awarded during Bluestem Farm and Ranch Supply's 18th annual Wildlife Appreciation and Conservation Days event in September. The grand prize is a Kansas lifetime hunting and fishing license. A crappie fishing trip with professional angler and guide Joe Bragg, founder of the Kansas Crappie Club, also will be awarded to a youth and mentor/parent.


Youths will need to submit their best outdoors story, a short narrative of 200 words or less, along with a photo, T-shirt size and contact information to What's in Outdoors with Phil Taunton at outdoors@kvoe.com.


Stories can be about anything outdoors related, including fishing, hunting, hiking, biking, camping, chasing butterflies, fireflies or even being chased by snakes.


Entries also can be dropped off at Bluestem Farm and Ranch Supply in Emporia or at the Council Grove Marina on the Council Grove Reservoir.


Parents and mentors can assist with writing the story, but only youths are eligible to win the prizes, which will include weekly drawings with prizes including Zebco fishing combos, Fish KS tackle compartments, assorted lures, nightcrawlers and KVOE T-shirts. The weekly prize winners (two each week) will be announced on KVOE radio's "What's in Outdoors Show" on AM-1440 in Emporia starting in early June. The show can also be listened to online at kvoe.com.


“Fishing’s Future is also working on some YouTube virtual Family Fish Camps in hopes to get more people into fishing,” Taunton said.


For more information, contact Taunton at 620-794-5373 or outdoors@kvoe.com.


State parks still open


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds across Kansas may have closed last week, but the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is keeping state parks, fishing lakes and wildlife areas open for the foreseeable future, including campsites, cabins and yurts.


The KDWPT also said that it currently isn't considering waiving fishing license fees, despite Missouri taking that route, as the KDWPT is "funded solely from the sale of licenses and permits, and that funding is crucial to keeping gates and facilities open and law enforcement in place."


“During this time of unprecedented changes, there is value in those things that can stay consistent,” said KDWPT Secretary Brad Loveless in a news release. “We’re committed to keeping Kansas’ state parks, state fishing lakes and wildlife areas open so that Kansans can continue to safely enjoy the outdoors. To achieve this, we must keep game wardens, public land managers, and park staff working in the field.”


Cancellations


All fishing tournaments on Milford Reservoir have been postponed until further notice, including this weekend's Cabela's King Kat qualifier and the Kansas BASS Nation youth and high school state qualifier tournaments in April.


T.H.E. Archery Club canceled its shoot scheduled for March 28-29 in response to the coronavirus.


"Until further notice, we will go month to month canceling what is not safe," said organizer Donice LaGrange.


The next regularly scheduled event is April 25 if it isn’t canceled.


The Topeka Bowhunters Club also canceled all of its 3D shoots until further notice.


Johnson County Pheasants Forever has postponed its sponsor event until the fall, and the Flint Hills Discovery Center's remaining greater prairie chicken viewing tours have been canceled, as well.