Pheasant season is here. Whooping cranes are arriving and leaving at frequent intervals through the Bottoms and Quivira. I was lucky enough to find four of those beauties about 150 yards off shore in Pool 1 who were polite and posed carefully in the morning sun last week for a few photographs. They were some of the best images of those birds I have gotten at the Bottoms. They usually stay further away from the shore. My thanks to Brian Hanzlick (“Eagle Eye”) for giving me the info about their arrival. Such elegant birds--it is almost “religious” to sit quietly and alone with them. My friend, Robert Penner, writes a monthly bird column for the Nature Conservancy - his article this month features the Whoopers, and is filled with info that I didn’t know. It is worth a “Google Search” to find and read. He is almost too smart. Ha!
We seem to have more pheasants and quail than I can remember for a long time. They add a LOT to my deer hunting escapades which are not doing very well. I am without meat at the present time. I spent a week camped out in Delores, Colo., with Cris Stipe and got no elk. I spent 12 days in Wyoming with Dusty Johnson and Mike Ehlebracht and got no elk. I spent five days in New Mexico with Robin Durrett and got no elk. I have stories galore and perfectly logical and reasonable explanations for my lack of success, but I can tell you I have had a ton of fun with my friends.
I have been in my pop-up and tree stand for a few days and have no deer. Yes, I have seen some, but just haven’t pulled my bow yet. It is still a thrill for me to arrive in the early morning dark, climb a tree and attach my safety belt, and sit while Kansas wakes up, stretches, and starts the day. Pheasants start cackling, squirrels start fussing, blue jays and woodpeckers feast on the corn, a doe snorts in the background and the coyotes discuss the morning with all their friends. The sun is almost sneaky in gradually adding light to the scene, and then seems to leap over the horizon. That is “magic time” for everyone who has hunted in Kansas. It still takes my breath! There are lots of ways to see and enjoy our beautiful state - but early morning in a tree is the top of my list. Give it a shot if you have a safe tree. I always carry a bow - but it isn’t a requirement.
Dan Witt is a retired physician and avid outdoorsmen. He can be reached at email@example.com