Elk City Wildlife Area News
PRAIRIE RESTORATION - Native grassland restoration continues with the use of a skid steer mounted saw to remove trees from existing blocks of native grass. Brush is being piled and stumps treated to prevent resprounting. These work areas are scattered across the area and have targeted native grasslands as well as quail habitat areas.
DOVE SEASON - The Elk City Unit harvested just over 4,000 doves in 2011 and 2400 in 2012. The data was collected from Elk City, Dove Flats WA and the Buffalo Ranch plots. Over 600 hunter trips were recorded. Harvest was down across the state on most sunflower dove management areas.
The 2013 forecast for hunting the managed sunflower dove fields on Elk City is poor. Sunflowers require warm soil temperatures and do not handle wet soil conditions well. The dove sunflower fields were planted late in 2013 due to cold and extremely wet conditions. Following planting, the area received nearly 15 inches of rain over the next several days making plant establishment and rooting very difficult. Poor stands of sunflowers then had to deal with near drought conditions for the next several weeks. During the period of July twenty to August first, the area received nearly 20 inches of rain, high winds and some hail. Many of the sunflowers were knocked down by the winds and have not recovered. Adjacent wheat stubble fields have greened up due to the high rain fall events and with wet and muddy conditions. The week of August 19, some mowing and spraying was conducted to try and salvage some dove habitat. Staff will try to burn some stubble the last week of August.
With the late planting and poor growing conditions, sunflowers do not have adequate time to develop seed and allow the fields to be prepared for doves in early August as normal. Hunters are encouraged to scout both public and private lands for dove hunting opportunities in this area of the state.
Hunters looking for public land managed dove sunflower fields should check out other properties for the status of their fields, as early word is many properties have had better growing conditions. Field locations and status should be reported on the department website prior to season.
WETLAND MANAGEMENT - Following a wet and cold spring, area wetlands have received little to no precipitation during June and July this summer, thus allowing vegetation and soil manipulations to occur. Chemical and mechanical manipulations have allowed critical soil disturbance to occur to remove undesirable plants and promote desired species. Disking by department personnel has created open water areas for this fall. All these wetlands are filled by rainfall only and cannot be pumped.
A new ephemeral wetland (Housemound Marsh) was developed in the Elk River and Card Creek Bottoms in 2012. This small wetland project has two cells and will provide shallow water and mud flat habitat for a variety of game and non-game species. The marsh sits directly adjacent to an area access road which will be closed during waterfowl season to remove vehicle disturbance for waterfowl. This area was completely submerged under the lake during the August flood event.
Water was captured in late July in several wetlands to irrigate moist soil plants, so habitat and food resources should be well developed by fall. Some wetlands have received too much water or were inundated by the reservoir, and have had a difficult time maintaining vegetation stands and thus will have limited food resources.
RESERVOIR WATERFOWL HUNTING CONDITIONS: The reservoir was held up above conservation pool this summer due to the forecast of drought conditions. Shoreline areas were inundated early in the summer and again in late July due to flooding. Water levels were up 14 ft during August.
The Chetopa Creek - Quaker Road will be seaonally closed (September to November) and will be re-opened during the duck hunting seasons in 2013. Vehicle access will be allowed during early teal, youth and regular duck season.
DEER HUNTING: Hunters are reminded that changes were made for public land hunters regarding baiting and the use of blinds. No individual may use more thn two portable blinds or tree stands on any single department owned or managed property. Portable blinds or decoys shall not be left unattended overnight. Each portable blind or treestand shall be marked with the users name and address or the users department issued identification number in a visible, legible and weather proof manner.
No person may place or use bait while hunting on department lands. Bait is defined as any grain, fruit, vegetable, nut, hay, salt, sorghum, feed, other food or mineral that is capable of attracting wildlife. Liquid scents and sprays are not considered bait. Hunting is prohibited within 100 yards of any baited site for up to 10 days after removal of the bait. Hunting is not prohibited over standing crops or food plots found on the area.
Commercial guiding on public land is not allowed without a commercial guide permit issued by the department for a specific area. An annual report must be submitted before July 1 on a form provided by the department.