September 1 marked the unofficial opening of the hunting season as hunters started off the dove, rail and snipe seasons. Opening day dove hunters at the popular James A. Reed Wildlife Area in Lee's Summit started off the season at noon Tuesday.
Some 620 hunters took 1,987 birds. Bob Whitworth said it was a fair start of the season, but not as good as last year. The dove season runs through Nov. 9, but most of the birds are taken during the first week of the season.
Jim Hawking and Todd Martin, Butler, started off the dove season east of Nevada where they had spotted lots of doves using a grain field. The pair of hunters had limits before noon and said it was the best opening day they had ever had.
For hunters like Paul Palmer, Warsaw, hunting season opened back in May.
Palmer is a squirrel hunter of more than 30 years and has taken his share of bushytails. "This has been an excellent year for squirrel hunting with cooler weather and plenty of both red and gray squirrels available its usually no problem to get a limit," he said.
This year, Palmer is planning on recycling his squirrel tails to Sheldon's, Inc., who makes Mepps lures for fishermen. Mepps recycles for the people at Sheldon's, Inc., but they don't want your aluminum cans or plastic soda bottles.
They do, however, want your squirrel tails. They need them to create hand-tied dressed hooks that do a good job of catching fish.
"We know this for a fact," Mepps spokesperson Jim Martinsen pointed out. "Because, here at Mepps, we've been recycling squirrel tails for about 50 years, and we recycle more of them than anyone else in the world," he said.
Mepps has tried hundreds of other materials -- both natural and synthetic -- and nothing else works as well.
While fishing the Wolf River with Mepps spinners, Todd caught his limit of trout and was heading back to his car when he met a boy who also had his limit of trout fishing with Mepps, but all of the boy's trout were larger than Todd's. This is not something easily accepted by any angler.
When Todd noticed the spinner attached to the boy's line had a tuft of squirrel tail tied to the hook, he began experimenting with dressed hooks. Bear hair was tried as well as fox, coyote, badger, skunk, deer and even Angus cow, but the only two tails that provided the pulsating action he was looking for were squirrel and buck tails.
Squirrel tails quickly became the dressing for Mepps trout spinners. Big spinners for trophy muskie, pike and bass were dressed with bucktail. It wasn't long before Mepps Bucktails had caught more trophy pike and muskie than any other lure in the world.
Mepps has been recycling squirrel and deer tails ever since.
"Squirrel Tails wanted" reads the carved wooden sign on Wisconsin's highway 45. The sign amuses some, but it intrigues others so much they stop to find out what we are all about.
This is fine with the Mepps people, they welcome visitors and offer tours. They're favorite visitors are squirrel hunters who stop by with tails to sell.
While Mepps buys squirrel tails from individual hunters, most of their deer tails come from fur buyers or meat processors.
"Mepps is only interested in recycling tails taken from squirrels that have been harvested for the table," Martinson stresses. "We do not advocate taking squirrels strictly for their tails."
Any hunter interested in finding other details on the squirrel tail recycling program, including care and handling instructions can be found at mepps.com/squirrels or call (800) 713-3474.
Several states including Texas and California it is illegal to sell squirrel tails.
Palmer said, "I don't plan on getting rich selling the tails, but with as many as I get, I would like to try the recycling program especially this year when thee are so many squirrels in the woods."