Love bagged a truly unique buck, a wide 17-point mule deer still in full velvet. Love posted two photos of the deer on Twitter last Saturday, taken just before the close of the season.
“Memorable day today connecting on this full velvet mule deer,” Love wrote on the post. “We had been seeing a 17-point velvet buck on trail cameras. He didn’t have huge antlers, but they were very interesting being in full velvet in December.
“Some of the velvet fibers were over a 1/2-inch long. The taxidermist said he has only seen this one time in 37 years on a whitetail and never on a mule deer. He estimated him to be 5.5 years old. Freezer will be full this winter!”
One reason for a deer to have velvet this late in the season is a lack of testosterone, often caused by damage to the buck’s testicles caused by an injury (think barbed-white fences) or a rare birth defect known as cryptorchidism, according to the Quality Deer Management Association. In extreme cases of this birth defect, the organization said, both testicles remain in the abdominal cavity and never descend into the scrotum. The QDMA says cryptorchid bucks don’t participate in the seasonal rituals of normal bucks because their testosterone levels remain low during early fall, so their antler development is not completed and their velvet isn’t shed.
The Kansas elk firearm season also ended Dec. 9, for those who were hoping for a rare shot at an elk like Lawrence resident DJ Klenklen made earlier this year in Jefferson County. However, the archery season continues until Dec. 31, with an extended firearm season Jan. 1-March 15, 2019.
Waterfowlers also must be aware of the changing seasons this week.
The Low Plains Early Zone’s first segment for ducks ended Sunday, and the second segment won’t open again until Dec. 22. That segment will run until Dec. 30.
Those wanting to duck hunt this upcoming week will need to do so in one of the other duck zones, with the first segment of the High Plains and Low Plains Late Zones not ending until Dec. 30 and the Low Plains Southeast Zone’s first segment going all the way until Jan. 6, 2019. Those three duck zones also will have a second segment running from Jan. 12-27, 2019.
The light goose and Canada goose regular seasons will continue through February, but the white-fronted goose season’s first segment will come to an end Dec. 30, though a second segment will allow hunting for the species between Jan. 26 and Feb. 17, 2019.
Snipe season also came to an end Sunday night.
For those who have already filled out their deer tags but still want to spend some time in the woods, you’re in luck.
The second segment of the fall turkey season kicked off last Monday, Dec. 10, and will continue through Jan. 31, 2019.
Following that will be spring turkey season, one of the most addictive times of the year for any hunter, when the weather begins to warm and the woods come alive with activity. The spring youth/disability season will kick off the season, running from April 1-16, 2019. An archery-only season runs during that time, as well, beginning April 8-16. The regular season, which allows hunters to use either firearms or bows, runs from April 17 to May 31.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism noted a decline in 2018 turkey harvest across the state of Kansas, with Kansas hunters shooting 22,619 birds. That number is down 26 percent from 2017 and marks the lowest harvest since 2000 according to Kent Fricke, who serves as small game coordinator for the KDWPT and is a technical advisor for the National Wild Turkey Federation. Fricke detailed the decline in the NWTF Kansas State Chapter’s Winter 2018 newsletter.