Monday, November 16, 2009

The Kansas Opener: Soggy, But Semi-Successful

Our opening weekend plans were fluid until 48 hours before the season opened. After considering a number of different locations, we finally decided to concentrate our efforts near {location redacted}, an hour or so west of {location redacted}. Jon wisely figured that since most opening day hunters would be chasing after ditch parrots, we'd concentrate our efforts on bobwhites -- the 'ol "if they zig, we'll zag" theory.

Normally, we'd head west on Friday afternoon, but since my daughter had her 12th birthday party that evening, I'd have to delay my plans. (Shame on me for not having the forethought to plan that birthdate a little better.) So my neighbor and I left the house well before sunup, and made it to {location redacted} about four hours later. Water towers are ubiquitous fixtures of small town America, but I give credit to the citizens of {location redacted} for cleverness in naming theirs.

Once we left the city limits for gravel, the roads were littered with trucks bearing tags from Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Pennsylvania. Their occupants were scattered from one horizon to the next, clad in newly-purchased hunter orange and chasing mostly overweight and/or clueless dogs, making the most of their once-a-year liberation.

Thankfully for us, Jon's plan was solid. My neighbor Mike and I met up with Jon and Tom, who had camped out the night before, at about 9:30 in the morning. They were each halfway to their daily limit, and we quickly loaded up gear in search of another spot. After a little searching, we put down Ike and Dottie in some particularly good-looking rolling grassland with plum thickets and cedars.

Four hours of tough walking later, we had managed to tag a few more bobs, and best of all, were mostly unbothered by other hunters. On the way back to camp, we help pull a lone hunter driving a Hyundai sedan (with no dog) out of the middle of a sandy road he had unwisely chosen to traverse.

That evening, we wrapped four quail in bacon and jalapenos, and grilled them alongside some smoked St. Louis ribs I had brought with me. We savored our meal around a campfire, and afterwards made the decision to pack up and spend the night in {location redacted}, since the forecast called for rain. That was the second good call of the trip. We woke up to steady showers, and it's still drizzling now, on Monday evening.

For selfish reasons, I'm actually pretty happy that Sunday was a rainout. It definitely kept most hunters out of the fields, and hopefully by the time next weekend rolls around, the once-a-year warriors will be onto something else. I'll be in Texas this weekend chasing whitetails, but hopefully by the Thanksgiving break, I'll be ready to go at it again.

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