Another opening day has come and gone. I must say that I’m not entirely disappointed, but I wasn’t blown away by it either. It was a fun weekend though; as I’ve always said, a bad day of hunting is better than a good day at work.
It started off early on Saturday. We wanted to hit a couple of fields that we had permission on, but so did some others. So we’re there at dawn, all 13 (hmmm,13. that just dawned on me) of us. This was my daughter’s first time out on opening day, and she was excited.
The first field was a cut circle field of corn, we were going to walk out the margins and the 4 triangles left from the circle. These were way overgrown by tumbleweeds, about waist deep and nearly impossible to get through at times. A couple of roosters flushed from the field, hopes were high for the rest of the day. Frankly, the rest of the field was a bust. I’m sure we walked over game due to the growth, so off to the next field.
Again, another cut circle of corn, fortunately, it wasn’t quite as overgrown as the first. We immediately get a rooster or two to flush and we’re all excited. But frankly, with 13 hunters, it’s hard to get a shot unless the pheasants flush right in front. A few of the birds were hit multiple times. But it’s all good.
One edge of this field is bordered by a dry creek bed which flushes a decent sized covey of quail. My daughter and I get down into the bottom of the creek and she takes a quail. Everyone wants a shot, so we moved out and let some of the others in. I did manage to bag a pheasant on the last corner, so at least the kid and I weren’t totally stumped.
The rest of the morning was about the same, we’d see a couple of birds and that was about it. It’s getting close to lunch so we’re trying to decide whether to hit another field or take a lunch break. Keith decides we should hit this small area on the way to lunch that he called a “tail water pit.” Basically, it’s dugout to the size of a small pond and left to overgrow. It might hold water during a real wet season, but it’s bone dry that day. A couple of guys say that we’ve never gotten anything out of it so why bother. Keith’s saying we always see stuff there. I don’t recall ever walking it out.
It’s decided that 5 of us would go through it, 3 in the bottom and 2 on the outsides, and a couple of blockers. I send my daughter down in the bottom in hopes she’ll get a better chance and I take the outside by the road. Several get in the vehicles to wait and listen to the football game (KSU is playing KU that day). I’m kind of daydreaming as I walk along.
A couple of shots ring out and I turn to see a small covey flushing out of the bottom. I don’t think anyone gets one then. We’re beating around a woodpile and a few more flush. Keith gets one towards the end. He’s totally gloating in a “see I told you” kind of way. I missed on a couple and so did my daughter.
The afternoon hunt is a bust, I don’t think we saw anything after lunch. We call it a day at sundown and go get some dinner.
The next day we awake to rain, mist and fog. It had rained most of the night, so the corn and milo fields will be a muddy mess and no one is up for it. We head down south of Meade to a local friend’s land. We generally always see quail down there. It’s all pasture and sandy hills, so would be better than slogging through muddy farm fields.
We get into a nice covey of quail and chase them around awhile. The best part of that day is Sam finally gets his first quail. He’s hunted with us for years. Yay Sam!
Like I said before, it was a fun opening weekend. It might help if we had some pointers with us rather than the lab pup, who did do a good job of retrieving for being a young one. All in all, the group harvested 7 pheasants and 7 quail (1 quail was eaten by one of the dogs, so the number would have been 8). It certainly wasn’t as great as the early reports were saying, at least in our area. But nothing beats a weekend hunting with your buddies. There’s always next time.