There is so much happening this time of year it almost boggles the mind. Pheasant and quail seasons are open. Ducks and geese are everywhere. The deer rut is in full gear, and bow hunters are harvesting some huge bucks. Sandhill cranes are legal. The whooping cranes were here in larger groups than I can ever recall. The weather has been mostly favorable, so lots of hunters and lookers found the elements to be satisfactory for their endeavors.
There are some issues, however. Duck season is really tough if you hunt the Bottoms.
The ducks are not staying in the Bottoms. They are in small farm ponds and the river close to their feeding areas. A few ducks are moving early and late, but it will have to freeze the small ponds before hunting approximates what Wildlife and Parks describe. There are big numbers of geese—mostly white-fronts, I think, and they raft up in Pool 1 and go up and out to feed. A big south or north wind will be beneficial to the hunters on the firing line.
Another issue is hunter safety. I had dinner with Brian and he has worked four hunting accidents with hunters being shot by their buddies. I can’t imagine how devastating that would be. Most have occurred with quail hunters. The birds flush so quickly and guys are so focused on the quick shot necessary to put meat on the table( best-eating bird alive by my standards) that they don’t see buddies ahead or lateral to them. A shotgun blast to the neck is a bad way to finish a hunt.
Please be careful - especially if you don’t hunt a lot and have a natural feel for your surroundings. Guys from the city (I used to be one in a previous life) are hunting - deprived and have a lot more urgency to take home celebratory meals for their friends and families and will take a chance once in a while. We always watch the city guys—their dogs run out a lot more than those that hunt frequently, and they always walk too fast.
It is also possible that I am slowing down some, too. Always know that if you are blocking on a pheasant hunt you are at risk. A low profile can be a wonderful thing.
I haven’t heard of any hunters falling out of tree stands yet. My urologist buddy from Topeka took a tumble last year and had to let his wrist and ribs heal before he could resume his surgical career. He has harvested one of the larger bucks I have seen this year. He is shooting the Magnus broadheads that Mike Sohm creates in Great Bend Kansas.
Mike has been so talented in the broadhead business and so good to the hooligans and game wardens that I associate with—he is one of those quiet heroes in our town. What a classy guy with a national and international profile in the very competitive broadhead business. He makes us better.
Thanksgiving is upon us. Take a moment and be grateful for where we live and who we live with. I am awed and immensely grateful to all of you who read this column and share my joy in the great outdoors. Go sit for a moment at the dawn or sunset and listen to your heart—it speaks volumes!
Doctor Dan Witt is a retired physician and nature enthusiast. He can be reached at email@example.com.