By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

When Kansas hunters went afield last fall in search of deer, a state-sponsored monitoring system found that 11 had been suffering from chronic wasting disease.

That's the greatest number since the disease was first found in free-ranging deer in 2005 in Cheyenne County.

Despite the increase, there won't be many changes in how the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks responds to new discoveries, the Wildlife and Parks Commission was told last week.

"We're going to continue the monitoring and try to keep track of it that way," said Mike Miller, information chief for KDWP.

There also was a discussion about baiting and what effect it might have on spreading CWD -- an always-fatal brain-wasting disease similar to mad cow.

Lloyd Fox, KDWP's big game coordinator, Miller said, reported that he was opposed to baiting, but said "he had no data, nothing that would show that it helps spread CWD."

Fox also talked about legal equipment in archery deer hunting. Under exiting regulations, archers couldn't possess a field or blunt point while hunting for deer.

The regulations, Miller said, only allowed the possession of broadheads.

Commissioners agreed to change the regulation to allow either type of archery point during deer or turkey season.

They also agreed to allow for statewide elk permits.

Miller said enough elk exist in Ford and Thomas counties to allow for hunting, provided permission can be obtained from landowners.

Hunting of elk -- with a statewide permit -- won't be allowed in either Morton County or any of the counties surrounding Fort Riley, the focus of most of the state's huntable elk population. Morton County is out because the elk there in the Cimarron National Grasslands typically spend more time in Colorado when they are being pursued.

Just possessing an elk permit won't assure anyone of bagging an animal.

"There's not very many elk out there and you've got to have someone out there with an elk to hunt," Miller said.

Commissioners also set the pronghorn season. Archery will be from Sept. 18 to 26 and then from Oct. 9 to the end of October. Firearms is from Oct. 1 to Oct. 4. The muzzleloader season will be Sept. 27 to Oct. 4.

Finally, commissioners considered a request to allow the possession of a handgun during deer archery season. No action was taken on that request.