Day 6 – End of the Road
While the Rooster Road Trip had fun mingling with fellow pheasant hunters at the Longspur Pheasants Forever chapter banquet last night, we wanted nothing to do with them today. Nothing personal, just trying to avoid the crowds and find a few nice, quiet places on this Kansas pheasant and quail hunting opener.
And crowds there were around the Norton Wildlife Area just west of town – more in a few square miles than we’d seen all week in four previous states. To escape, we pulled out the Kansas Hunting Atlas and zeroed in a cluster of yellow Walk in hunting areas to the north and west. Our primary goal was to escape the hoopla, with the secondary goal of flushing a covey or two of bobwhite quail. I really like how, unlike other states, Kansas lists an index of what species you’re most likely to find on specific pieces of property. Quail were a possibility where we were going.
The first area looked okay, but we weren’t competing for spots and decided to be a little picky. Turned out to be a good call, because the second walk in area we came to had it all – quality cover, a bordering harvested corn field and a few brushy draws that could hold bobs. The dogs were hot right off the bat, and a rooster flushed wild. As we came over the hill on the backside of the piece, about 10 pheasants were out feeding in the field and busted us. One ringneck stayed tight in the grass, and Bob St.Pierre put the Rooster Road Trip on the board in Kansas. Bob also has the distinction of being the only one in our three man crew to bag a rooster in every state. Roosters in 5 states in 6 days? That’s select, if not exclusive, company.
Minutes later, we worked a draw on the edge of the tract. “Is that a quail?” Bob said as a loner buzzed through the brush and landed 15 yards in front of me. Before I could rush up to re-flush it, the covey busted on Bob’s side. Two dozen quail scattered every which way. These were the first quail Andrew had seen in the wild, and he was amazed. A few shots rang out, and I mixed the Rooster Road Trip’s bag for the first time.
As we drove around our next spot, we could hardly believe how hundreds of hunters were pounding an area just 15 miles away, and here sat multiple areas of prime hunting ground with no hunters. The landowner (remember, Walk in hunting areas in Kansas are privately owned, as landowners receive payment to open the land to hunting) had seen us at the banquet and stopped to say hi. As nice a guy as you’ll meet, he said he was happy to open the property for the public to enjoy. There were plenty of pheasants out there, he said, and come back in the spring for turkeys.
A week on the road, hunting and driving hard, has us feeling good about a successful public land tour, but looking forward to returning to our families. There is no place like home. Except maybe Kansas on the pheasant opener.
Tags: bobwhite quail, Kansas pheasant opener, kansas quail hunting, kansas walk in hunting, Longspur Pheasants Forever, pheasants forever, quail, Rooster Road Trip, walk in hunting, walk in hunting areas
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