Is rural Kansas dying?

I don't ask to be mean, just an observation. 4th year hunting KS. Went to a steak restaurant in Mankata on Thursday night around 7. 3 of us and 2 ladies in a place with a couple dozen tables. Only 1 waitress working. Owner asks us if we're hunting pheasants. Says 20 or 30 years ago he could have taken us out and we would have seen 100+ birds flush a day. Says he rarely sees them any more.

Went to a Mexican restaurant in Smith Center on Saturday night. 7pm. 1 local cop and the 3 of us are the only people in the place. The shredded beef quesadilla was the best I've ever eaten, and the rest of the food was good. But the place was EMPTY. 4 guys walked in as we went out. Saturday night, 8pm, Main St. - could've shot a cannon off. Empty parking spaces are far as the eye can see.

Seems like rural America is withering away. Really made me sad. :(

Anyway, I wasn't totally happy with the outfitter to say the least, but it was nice to get out of town. Killed quite a few pheasants that didn't quite seem wary enough to fool us into thinking they were wild birds. Las Canteras in Smith Center gets my unqualified stamp of approval though.
 

KsHusker

Member
I don't ask to be mean, just an observation. 4th year hunting KS. Went to a steak restaurant in Mankata on Thursday night around 7. 3 of us and 2 ladies in a place with a couple dozen tables. Only 1 waitress working. Owner asks us if we're hunting pheasants. Says 20 or 30 years ago he could have taken us out and we would have seen 100+ birds flush a day. Says he rarely sees them any more.

Went to a Mexican restaurant in Smith Center on Saturday night. 7pm. 1 local cop and the 3 of us are the only people in the place. The shredded beef quesadilla was the best I've ever eaten, and the rest of the food was good. But the place was EMPTY. 4 guys walked in as we went out. Saturday night, 8pm, Main St. - could've shot a cannon off. Empty parking spaces are far as the eye can see.

Seems like rural America is withering away. Really made me sad. :(

Anyway, I wasn't totally happy with the outfitter to say the least, but it was nice to get out of town. Killed quite a few pheasants that didn't quite seem wary enough to fool us into thinking they were wild birds. Las Canteras in Smith Center gets my unqualified stamp of approval though.

Yes it's been dying for years. Several reasons - No jobs, Lack of any opportunity, School closures (Thanks Brownback) Hospital Closures (Thanks Brownback - though Medicaid expansion if passed can help the health care system some) lack of upland hunting opportunities (farmers not seeing the big picture that there is an economic incentive to farm with birds in mind and to have "tourism" to their towns and years and years of brainwashing by Big ag such as Monsanto - I've yet to have a business discussion with an ag producer who can show on paper why the farming practices of today make any sense vs some minor tweaks - I'm still hopeful I can get that sit down talk to understand the business side)

But back on topic - it is pretty sad. With the virtual and gig economy I'd love to see companies (or sole proprietors) receive tax incentives to live/work remotely in rural economies - now a days all you need is a strong internet connection to perform any host of tasks - however many large corporations have their blinders on or 0 incentive to let folks live/work wherever they want. Would be nice to see some "development" zones or towns to take their own initiatives. A few do - many dont - they just have been dying a slow agonizing death.
 

MAB7799

Member
I don't ask to be mean, just an observation. 4th year hunting KS. Went to a steak restaurant in Mankata on Thursday night around 7. 3 of us and 2 ladies in a place with a couple dozen tables. Only 1 waitress working. Owner asks us if we're hunting pheasants. Says 20 or 30 years ago he could have taken us out and we would have seen 100+ birds flush a day. Says he rarely sees them any more.

Went to a Mexican restaurant in Smith Center on Saturday night. 7pm. 1 local cop and the 3 of us are the only people in the place. The shredded beef quesadilla was the best I've ever eaten, and the rest of the food was good. But the place was EMPTY. 4 guys walked in as we went out. Saturday night, 8pm, Main St. - could've shot a cannon off. Empty parking spaces are far as the eye can see.

Seems like rural America is withering away. Really made me sad. :(

Anyway, I wasn't totally happy with the outfitter to say the least, but it was nice to get out of town. Killed quite a few pheasants that didn't quite seem wary enough to fool us into thinking they were wild birds. Las Canteras in Smith Center gets my unqualified stamp of approval though.
That mexican place in smith center is GOOD. Same local cop was there 3 weeks ago when I was in there.
 

Nick

Member
It's a shame. I haven't made it out a lot this year, but have seen areas of Kansas I've never visited before. I don't have access to private ground anymore, so I've logged a lot of miles (boots and tires) when I have been out. I really enjoy the small town cafes and meeting the friendly locals. I was in Dorrance over New Year's. Stopped at a little place called the Boathouse. Had a couple of cold beers and played shuffleboard with the owner. Only a few people in the place and they were very welcoming.
 
Attitudes have changed somewhat over the years out there. I used to knock on doors and most everyone would let me go. And I'm talking the last 10 years. This year I've knocked on 5 doors and been turned down 3 times. Yeah 2 let me go but it used to be 80 percent said yes. I had one guy tell me that a storm back on memorial day killed all the pheasants. He said this as one was eating out of his milo silage pile. He was just trying to discourage us from hunting that area. We found plenty of pheasants too just a mile north of his house. I've hunted with a few Kansas residents too on the fly. This year the one guy I asked to join us looked at me like I was crazy. The small towns are drying up with the birds I agree, but the state as a whole just doesn't seem as inviting as it used to. But the farmers that I have hunted on consistently through the years are still in good spirits. But they live in more populated areas too. I hope Kansas gets on an upswing in the next few years economically. Its too good of an upland and outdoor rec state to steadily go downhill.
 

KsHusker

Member
Attitudes have changed somewhat over the years out there. I used to knock on doors and most everyone would let me go. And I'm talking the last 10 years. This year I've knocked on 5 doors and been turned down 3 times. Yeah 2 let me go but it used to be 80 percent said yes. I had one guy tell me that a storm back on memorial day killed all the pheasants. He said this as one was eating out of his milo silage pile. He was just trying to discourage us from hunting that area. We found plenty of pheasants too just a mile north of his house. I've hunted with a few Kansas residents too on the fly. This year the one guy I asked to join us looked at me like I was crazy. The small towns are drying up with the birds I agree, but the state as a whole just doesn't seem as inviting as it used to. But the farmers that I have hunted on consistently through the years are still in good spirits. But they live in more populated areas too. I hope Kansas gets on an upswing in the next few years economically. Its too good of an upland and outdoor rec state to steadily go downhill.
Brandon I haven't asked for much permission the past 3-4 years - Ive never had luck with anyone younger than 50-60 and the most luck the higher on the age spectrum - maybe I relate better I dunno - is it the younger ones saying no to you at least in your small sampling size? I'm guessing the changing of the guard so to speak as the generational change/farms turnover to the younger ones.

It was that way back to when I was in college late 90's early 00's - never had luck w the younger ones and always anyone around my grandparents age or close would usually say yes.
 

KsHusker

Member
Pretty much the same across rural America.

Least my part of Iowa.
McFarmer - would you care to have a dialogue about some of the economic decisions that go into farming certain ways - if not here maybe offline - I really want to learn some of what drives what we see out there. Not to hijack this thread. But saw you replied - thinking based on some of your posts you are a producer it seems in Iowa. Obviously some decisions are geographic specific but in the grain belt some of the practices overall should be nearly the same. Perhaps Fsentkilr would join in as I believe he is a producer in Eastern KS - but about in the middle N to S - I dont know how to tag him but hoping he sees this.

I have a plethora of questions as I simply have a desire to learn that perspective.
 
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Brandon I haven't asked for much permission the past 3-4 years - Ive never had luck with anyone younger than 50-60 and the most luck the higher on the age spectrum - maybe I relate better I dunno - is it the younger ones saying no to you at least in your small sampling size? I'm guessing the changing of the guard so to speak as the generational change/farms turnover to the younger ones.

It was that way back to when I was in college late 90's early 00's - never had luck w the younger ones and always anyone around my grandparents age or close would usually say yes.
I would say the 50-60 year old range is my cryptonite. That age range is usually a no. If they are younger they usually let me go and if they are retired age I'm usually good. Even when I get told no though its like they feel bad about telling me no. Or maybe its just an act. But this year I had a couple people both about 50-55 years old tell me absolutely not and that there were no pheasants. It was just a change in attitude I guess. Usually if I get told no I still have a conversation with the people before I leave, just to try to leave on a good note. And I still feel somewhat welcome. Did not feel welcome on a few occasions this last trip.
 

MAB7799

Member
I would say the 50-60 year old range is my cryptonite. That age range is usually a no. If they are younger they usually let me go and if they are retired age I'm usually good. Even when I get told no though its like they feel bad about telling me no. Or maybe its just an act. But this year I had a couple people both about 50-55 years old tell me absolutely not and that there were no pheasants. It was just a change in attitude I guess. Usually if I get told no I still have a conversation with the people before I leave, just to try to leave on a good note. And I still feel somewhat welcome. Did not feel welcome on a few occasions this last trip.
4 years ago I asked 24 land owners for permission to hunt.... now this was near Wamego area but out of those 24, 3 told me yes. The ground I do have is really good but damn it takes a lot of work and knocking/calling to get it.
 

BritChaser

Active member
Crop prices drive rural economies, and the prices are down below cost of production. No money to spare for eating and drinking out.

Las Canteras in Hill City is good too.
 
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bobman

New member
“Anyway, I wasn't totally happy with the outfitter to say the least, but it was nice to get out of town. Killed quite a few pheasants that didn't quite seem wary enough to fool us into thinking they were wild birds“

This is a huge part of the problem hunting is being commercialized and monetized.

But I’ve resolved myself to hunting disappearing for everyone but the elite
 
4 years ago I asked 24 land owners for permission to hunt.... now this was near Wamego area but out of those 24, 3 told me yes. The ground I do have is really good but damn it takes a lot of work and knocking/calling to get it.
Thats about the rate you will get in Missouri. I try not to waste alot of time on it. And I dont do it much anymore, but I would either catch someone outside, in the field, look for the open garage door, or machine shed door. Try to catch someone at home. I dont phone call for permission, I feel more comfortable talking to people. I think getting permission on the spot helps too. I've gotten permission in the off season before then got a phone call saying I couldn't. What happened is they got to talking to people about it, word got around and someone they knew and were closer too decided they wanted to hunt it and so I lost it. Had I asked day of, I would've gotten to hunt that place. At least once...
 
Crop prices drive rural economies, and the prices are down below cost of production. No money to spare for eating and drinking out.

The Las Canteras in Hill City is good too.
I would have a change in attitude too if I was losing money like that. Farming is definitely crucial for the survival of the midwest.
 
McFarmer - would you care to have a dialogue about some of the economic decisions that go into farming certain ways - if not here maybe offline - I really want to learn some of what drives what we see out there. Not to hijack this thread. But saw you replied - thinking based on some of your posts you are a producer it seems in Iowa. Obviously some decisions are geographic specific but in the grain belt some of the practices overall should be nearly the same. Perhaps Fsentkilr would join in as I believe he is a producer in Eastern KS - but about in the middle N to S - I dont know how to tag him but hoping he sees this.

I have a plethora of questions as I simply have a desire to learn that perspective.

I would absolutely welcome making this part of the discussion.

I own some farm land in IL. We have been told the last couple of years in seminars that the "average" farmer is within a few $$ of breaking at current crop prices, and maybe even losing money. It sure seems like "planting" birds has a potential to yield a positive cash flow if done correctly, but I'm not sure how you sell that to farmers. It costs a couple hundred per person per day minimum to use an outfitter, or you have the choice to take a chance on WIHA until you hit good areas. I would certainly be willing to spend $100/day for access to good habitat that holds some birds. My trip costs would be 1/2 what they are through an outfitter.

The biggest problem I would see is that to be truly successful habitat probably has to be done on a scale bigger than one farmer. Add to that many farmers are renting land on a year to year basis, while habitat is a multi-year proposition. But if you could get several big acreage farmers and land owners together to set aside 10 to 15% of the most marginal crop ground for habitat in say one township, and find some way to manage access (maybe a windshield card purchased from KSoutdoors or something), then there may well be a way to make farming birds more profitable than corn on those marginal acres. If you could manage $100/per person/day, and get reasonable hunting based on a person day of hunting for every 2 habitat acres then the farmer has $50/acre cash flow. If the state, county or FSA could cost share the habitat improvement costs then something like $50/acre profit might sound tempting.

Seems like a no brainer for the legislature to exempt such a program from any liability for injuries, which takes that concern mostly out of the equation.

But unfortunately my knowledge of farm economics is too shallow to know how the numbers would actually play out.
 

KsHusker

Member
I would absolutely welcome making this part of the discussion.

I own some farm land in IL. We have been told the last couple of years in seminars that the "average" farmer is within a few $$ of breaking at current crop prices, and maybe even losing money. It sure seems like "planting" birds has a potential to yield a positive cash flow if done correctly, but I'm not sure how you sell that to farmers. It costs a couple hundred per person per day minimum to use an outfitter, or you have the choice to take a chance on WIHA until you hit good areas. I would certainly be willing to spend $100/day for access to good habitat that holds some birds. My trip costs would be 1/2 what they are through an outfitter...... If the state, county or FSA could cost share the habitat improvement costs then something like $50/acre profit might sound tempting.

Seems like a no brainer for the legislature to exempt such a program from any liability for injuries, which takes that concern mostly out of the equation.

But unfortunately my knowledge of farm economics is too shallow to know how the numbers would actually play out.


I'd really like to zero in on the business side of things -

Things I'm curious about --- say you have an overgrown shelterbelt/hedgerow (or bodarks for our OK bretheren)
** What is the rough cost to tear the shelterbelt out per foot
** Could a better solution be signing up for a habitat program for this marginal edge ground and possibly having the govt cost share or maybe paying entirely to have the shelterbelt side cut (I've seen the machines) nearly to the ground creating shrubby cover again and providing a windbreak/snow break/blowing break, but allowing more sunlight to your field edges?
** What will be the payback once you gain this extra tillable ground and how many years would it take to get this payback - does it really make financial sense to do this?
** Are you accounting for the fact that more than likely yields on this extra ground you gained will be lower for a # of years (a hypothesis of mine)
** If you signed up for the CP33 (I think that's what it's called) program -- edge/habitat strips would you be money ahead earning income off of land that was marginal to begin with
** What is your time and cost of capital worth (refer back to 1st question on how much would it cost to tear the shelterbelt out) --- also what is your time worth


Spraying and GMO Seeds
** What does it cost to use GMO seeds vs varieties that are not GMO
** How many extra inputs and what is the extra cost to use GMO -- spraying primarily and upfront cost for the seeds
** If you did not use GMO - maybe your yields would be slightly lower but if your inputs are likely less could your profit be nearly the same?
** Again factoring in time and money - if you are practicing super clean farming your inputs of both time and money have to be higher - are you really getting a much higher profit percentage farming this way vs some of the more traditional ways? Again what is your time worth and what is your cost of capital worth?


Crop Insurance
*** I need a better understanding of how this works - and I'd have a # of questions on how this can factor into the above.

Community
** If your community had more ecotourism would it be worth it to you?
** Do you ever think a by-product of not having game around is having a negative impact on your community?



Ranching
*** a Couple of simple questions here -
** Sarcastic question ---> Dont you realize that letting your cattle or someone elses cattle graze the grass down to the dirt every year is stressing the natural balance of things and you'll continue to get crappier and crappier grass output as time goes on - It's not rocket science

**Serious questions again -->> Does burning every single year truly make sense from a time/money perspective -- what true gains are you getting by doing this?

** Trees - why have you not controlled them? Dont you realize you will have marginal grass production when you let your land turn into a cedar or locust forest? I believe there are numerous cost share programs out there to help get rid of them

** Learn about rotational burning and spraying aren't bad tools if used correctly -

** I'd like to think ranching has much simpler solutions


Just pounding this out I'm probably using some of the wrong terms but hopefully someone gets what I'm trying to drill down on.

I'd think a byproduct of shifting some of the farming practices to ways that would benefit wildlife would be more money in the farmers pocket - more of their time back, lower capital outlays, a better sense of community among other things - I could be hypothesizing all wrong - I'm not sure - but I've yet to see any real dollars and cents comparisons. It just seems that most have taken the mentality that if Joe Smith up the road is doing it that way because X Seed company says it will be better for him and he'll make money they just end up doing it without completing any real analysis and factoring in things such as cost of capital or one of the things you can never get back -- your time.
 
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RuttCrazed

New member
Sounds like I need to try the Mexican restaurant in Smith Center? My uncle has property out there and I do maintenance on it several times per year and usually eat at Jiffy Burger, Subway or the Rusty Tractor in Kensington (great steaks!).
 
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McFarmer

Member
McFarmer - would you care to have a dialogue about some of the economic decisions that go into farming certain ways - if not here maybe offline - I really want to learn some of what drives what we see out there. Not to hijack this thread. But saw you replied - thinking based on some of your posts you are a producer it seems in Iowa. Obviously some decisions are geographic specific but in the grain belt some of the practices overall should be nearly the same. Perhaps Fsentkilr would join in as I believe he is a producer in Eastern KS - but about in the middle N to S - I dont know how to tag him but hoping he sees this.

I have a plethora of questions as I simply have a desire to learn that perspective.
Sure, I’m not shy about expressing myself. I’ve also been married for over forty years so you won’t be the first to tell me I’m wrong, and my back has a good slope to it.
 

CGD

New member
I'd really like to zero in on the business side of things -

Things I'm curious about --- say you have an overgrown shelterbelt/hedgerow (or bodarks for our OK bretheren)
** What is the rough cost to tear the shelterbelt out per foot
** Could a better solution be signing up for a habitat program for this marginal edge ground and possibly having the govt cost share or maybe paying entirely to have the shelterbelt side cut (I've seen the machines) nearly to the ground creating shrubby cover again and providing a windbreak/snow break/blowing break, but allowing more sunlight to your field edges?
** What will be the payback once you gain this extra tillable ground and how many years would it take to get this payback - does it really make financial sense to do this?
** Are you accounting for the fact that more than likely yields on this extra ground you gained will be lower for a # of years (a hypothesis of mine)
** If you signed up for the CP33 (I think that's what it's called) program -- edge/habitat strips would you be money ahead earning income off of land that was marginal to begin with
** What is your time and cost of capital worth (refer back to 1st question on how much would it cost to tear the shelterbelt out) --- also what is your time worth


Spraying and GMO Seeds
** What does it cost to use GMO seeds vs varieties that are not GMO
** How many extra inputs and what is the extra cost to use GMO -- spraying primarily and upfront cost for the seeds
** If you did not use GMO - maybe your yields would be slightly lower but if your inputs are likely less could your profit be nearly the same?
** Again factoring in time and money - if you are practicing super clean farming your inputs of both time and money have to be higher - are you really getting a much higher profit percentage farming this way vs some of the more traditional ways? Again what is your time worth and what is your cost of capital worth?


Crop Insurance
*** I need a better understanding of how this works - and I'd have a # of questions on how this can factor into the above.

Community
** If your community had more ecotourism would it be worth it to you?
** Do you ever think a by-product of not having game around is having a negative impact on your community?



Ranching
*** a Couple of simple questions here -
** Sarcastic question ---> Dont you realize that letting your cattle or someone elses cattle graze the grass down to the dirt every year is stressing the natural balance of things and you'll continue to get crappier and crappier grass output as time goes on - It's not rocket science

**Serious questions again -->> Does burning every single year truly make sense from a time/money perspective -- what true gains are you getting by doing this?

** Trees - why have you not controlled them? Dont you realize you will have marginal grass production when you let your land turn into a cedar or locust forest? I believe there are numerous cost share programs out there to help get rid of them

** Learn about rotational burning and spraying aren't bad tools if used correctly -

** I'd like to think ranching has much simpler solutions


Just pounding this out I'm probably using some of the wrong terms but hopefully someone gets what I'm trying to drill down on.

I'd think a byproduct of shifting some of the farming practices to ways that would benefit wildlife would be more money in the farmers pocket - more of their time back, lower capital outlays, a better sense of community among other things - I could be hypothesizing all wrong - I'm not sure - but I've yet to see any real dollars and cents comparisons. It just seems that most have taken the mentality that if Joe Smith up the road is doing it that way because X Seed company says it will be better for him and he'll make money they just end up doing it without completing any real analysis and factoring in things such as cost of capital or one of the things you can never get back -- your time.
There is a lot to unpackage there and costs for every farmer are different depending on their operation. I'll just touch on the GMO thing because I see you bring it up a lot. Most time the reduced cost of NON GMO seeds are offset by either more manual labor and time, more spraying of chemical, or loss in yield. Agriculture is probably the fastest growing technology sector there is and ROI is the name of the game in farming. Everything has to pay otherwise they wouldn't do it, especially with markets being as low as they are right now. I can guarantee that farmers aren't doing things without analysis as you eluded to. The maps that my customers are able to create with the data they collect is really amazing, variable seeding and fertilizer rates to maximize the production of each acre, soil sampling to see which nutrients are needed an where, and tailoring crop variety by soil type, maturity, genetics to ensure production.
 

fsentkilr

New member
There is a lot to unpackage there and costs for every farmer are different depending on their operation. I'll just touch on the GMO thing because I see you bring it up a lot. Most time the reduced cost of NON GMO seeds are offset by either more manual labor and time, more spraying of chemical, or loss in yield. Agriculture is probably the fastest growing technology sector there is and ROI is the name of the game in farming. Everything has to pay otherwise they wouldn't do it, especially with markets being as low as they are right now. I can guarantee that farmers aren't doing things without analysis as you eluded to. The maps that my customers are able to create with the data they collect is really amazing, variable seeding and fertilizer rates to maximize the production of each acre, soil sampling to see which nutrients are needed an where, and tailoring crop variety by soil type, maturity, genetics to ensure production.
What he said. We don't do stuff for the fun of it. There is an economic reason behind everything. There is a reason the vast majority of corn and beans planted are GMO.
 
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