Kansas is a wonderful place to pursue birds. I can't say it's the easiest place to fill a limit, nor is it even the most visually stunning location to chase game. But, it does have a charm that's unique to the small towns that fill its landscape, indifferent to the pace of life that circles its boarders. It has a robust and well managed walk-in-access program that gives the foot hunter limitless opportunities to pursue a wide variety of game birds, giving you a sense of freedom that only comes from abundant options. And for the pointing breed man, there is perhaps no other place on earth that quenches a passionate commitment to quietly observe the methodical purpose of a Pointer, Setter or other such staunch creature exercising their birthright.
I learned a few things about the search for quail in a vast landscape. They're magicians, here one minute and faint memories the next, leaving only frustrating reminders that they are indeed close by. A few tracks, an occasional snow melted roost, maybe even a feeding scrape here or there, but count on being able to reliably locate them based on the evidence and you'll be painted a fool.
Of all the riches I encountered on this trip, there are two things that occurred repeatedly during the hunt that warrant additional discussion. One, why is it that after a five mile hike in snow filled crop edges the quail erupt fifteen feet from the truck? Two, why is the most illusive creature on earth the rooster that gets up when you're expecting a covey of quail?
|Cold first day. Plenty of birds eased the chill though.|
|Mack busting through cover|
|My little heartthrob Gretchen and Big Mack Daddy honoring a covey|
|"A bird hunter must walk" - Havilah Babcock|
|After the dust settled.... yes, by the truck|