The outdoors has special meaning to me. I caught my first fish at age 4 and shot my first duck at age 9. Nearly four decades later I still get excited when I get to spend any time outdoors. A lot has changed during that time but the anticipation and experiences are still similar and just as exciting. It’s a great place to be....Read More
These days I enjoy many different types of hunting. I’m an avid, some might say rabid, waterfowler. I love to bowhunt and have traveled the country doing so for various big game species, although I’m fairly content with Kansas whitetails and turkeys now. And when it’s not hunting season I’m usually fishing. I love to fish for walleye, crappie and channel catfish. I’m at home on the front of my boat on a big reservoir or wading a small Flint Hills stream. It’s all good.
Throw in a recent bout with the trapping bug and decades of camping with family and friends and it’s obvious I have an addiction for the outdoors.
Many of my most memorable outdoor experiences in recent years have centered on those with my children. My 18-year-old daughter and twin 12-year-old boys have been a major part of my outings. Watching their eyes light up as they realize the wonders of Mother Nature and her bounty likely has even more meaning than my own personal satisfaction. Spending quality time with them outdoors carries significant and substantial meaning, no matter what we’re doing.
In this Blog I’ll attempt to relay some of the enjoyment and satisfaction I get from being outdoors. Topics covered will be broad in scope and run the gamut. It’s all fair game. If you can sit at your computer and read a particular entry and it stirs you to try it, or helps make your experience more enjoyable, I will be pleased. And if it does nothing more than make you smile or laugh that too, will please me. The outdoors is truly a great place to be!
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
While many birthday presents for youngsters these days often center around electronics or video games, there are still a few kids who cherish those gifts related to the outdoors. I remember getting a few during my adolescence and they were some of the most memorable, both big and small. I met a youngster recently, Hunter, who will likely have a similar memory after a winter crappie ice fishing trip on the docks at Pomona's Lighthouse Bay Marina.
And use it he did. The youngster caught several nice crappie and took them to the adjacent dock to put in his other family member's bucket.
"I got another one!" he hollered as he walked.
After a half-dozen fish, Hunter's family was quick to follow him back to his honey hole, or actually holes.
"I caught one in this hole, that hole and that one, too," he pointed.
Hunter's enthusiasm was contagious and entertaining.
"Fish ON!" he'd holler as he set the hook.
Adult anglers around him were smiling and laughing each time he caught a fish. Hunter was eager to share his secrets with his family and other anglers. And the youngster was willing to share the wealth, too. As he took off his most recent fish, he turned back around to see another youngster, much older and larger, fishing the hole where he just caught the fish. The older kid began to reel up and was about to give the hole back when Hunter said, "That's okay, you can fish there. I'll just fish this one over here."
Here's hoping, Hunter, that you catch many more fish with that birthday present. Happy Birthday, Hunter!
Thursday, January 9, 2014
|CAN YOU FIND THREE SCAVENGERS?|
I've always wondered about what animals are capitalizing on these offerings. Over the past few years I've tried to find out just who or what is responsible for slicking up similar offerings of nasty leftovers and remnant scraps. In order to do that I've placed trail cameras, both those that shoot video and still photos, on various carcass piles.
On my most recent experiment I had a dozen or so cleaned goose and duck carcasses and the rib cage and legs of a deer carcass. I wired all of the waterfowl to a stake and did the same with the deer leftovers. It didn't take long for the pile of leftovers to be reduced to a pile of nothing but a few feathers.
There's only been one common denominator in all of these experiments. Within a week or two, rarely more, the pile is reduced to absolutely nothing save a few traces of feathers or hair. Mother Nature's garbage disposals are efficient. It's kind of fun to watch, too, and I'd never really know how it worked without the cameras. Nothing goes to waste and the food chain continues to function as intended.
Friday, January 3, 2014
But someone forgot to inform the ducks of our plans that morning. Save a loan honker scratched from a group of geese flying the river at daybreak our pickings were relatively slim for the first two hours. We saw a couple small groups of ducks but they were off in the distance and apparently had definite plans.
We had just got done discussing the "good ol' days" when huge flocks of greenheads, sometimes numbering in the hundreds would descend from the heavens and land in our spread. It had been quite some time since we've seen that but our luck was about to change when Jim spotted a flock of mallards and they looked interested. Soon, several smaller flocks became one and it numbered nearly 100 birds.
Plenty of calling and several passes later some finally got close enough to go. Guns blazed and ducks started falling. Five greenheads floated in front of us as Trav, Jim's yellow Lab, hustled to get them slicked up. Although we should have killed more from the flock we were in awe of the spectacle they just provided. The mere site of those birds cupped and committed is still vividly etched in my mind.
A short time later we had a flock of big Canada geese that acted interested in the full body goose decoys we had sitting nearby on the sandbar. Jim and Matt started pleading with them to join us and the sounds of their calls convinced them to venture too close on one pass and we killed three nice honkers from the bunch.
And we weren't done with the ducks, either. We were blessed with a repeat performance from another nice flock of mallards. Although not quite as large, the results were the same and five mallards splashed down belly up. We added another single a short time later and ended the morning with 11mallards and four big Canada geese.
The morning shoot wasn't hot and heavy by any means. Those two flocks of ducks really saved the day. But the experiences of what few birds we worked will be enough to tide us over until our duck segment opens back up for a week at the end of this month. We'll be back after them hoping more bluebird skies are filled with big greenheads and they're locked up. Here's hoping the 2014 duck season starts the way the 2013 one ended.
Friday, December 20, 2013
There are few states that offer “the big three” when it comes to upland game birds and the Sunflower State has bragging rights in that regard. We’ve got one of the best prairie chicken populations in the Midwest. My two prairie chickens were the icing on the cake capping a beautiful evening. They were also a pleasant reminder about the good ol’ days growing up in Kansas and the opportunity to hunt a unique inhabitant of the Great Plains.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Teenagers are tough to roust out of bed. Heck, the older I get the more I like the comfortable confines of a toasty-warm bed at 5 a.m. in the morning, too. Although it's easy to dream of big deer, it's difficult to throw the backstraps on the grill from a dream buck. So the long and short of it is you've got to be there to win. Cody knows this but it doesn't make it any easier to wake up early and head out into the cold but that's what we did.
It was a beautiful, clear morning with little wind. Cody had his crossbow all set-up and ready to go as it rested on shooting sticks. We both yawned a few times sitting comfortably in chairs in our ground blind as it broke daylight. It wasn't long and Cody started to nod off, finally resting his head on the stock of his crossbow.
The buck was quartered away and I instructed Cody on where to aim based on the angle. My adrenaline was flowing and I tried to remain calm for Cody's sake, although he admitted later he could hear me breathing hard. I told him to take a few deep breaths, concentrate and shoot when he was ready.
The shot in my mind was a little low and back, but the angle should have been good.
"Did I get him?" Cody asked in between breaths.
"You hit him, but the shot wasn't perfect," I told him.
We waited in the blind for another hour and had an encounter with a giant doe we've seen before. All of the trail camera pictures of her have her looking directly at the blind. She's cagey and at only 7 yards away she had us pegged and boogied before Cody could get a shot at her, too.
Recovering Cody's buck took a lot of patience, persistence and luck, but we were able to find it. Cody's first buck was a nice 2 1/2-year-old, 8 pointer we later learned we had on our trail camera a few times as well.
It may not have been the buck Cody was dreaming about but it was a nice one and he was happy. I was, too. Spending time in the great outdoors with my kids, whether I'm watching them sleep or not, is enjoyable. We'll remember that hunt forever and Cody now knows that ol' Dad doesn't cry wolf ALL the time.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Had I intended to write a script for a nice fall afternoon sitting in a tree this experience would be tough to top. I’d take another one just like it next season. The hefty 8-pointer wasn’t my biggest buck ever, but the older I get the less I worry about what a deer’s rack scores. It was good to be outside and I was proud to put my tag on him knowing I’d just enjoyed another truly memorable day in Kansas’ great outdoors.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
And so it was last week, behind more than I normally am, that I decided to check a couple treestands for upcoming hunts. I used to hunt many times in October and then be tired or burned out by the time the rut kicked in. With fewer eggs these days, I've generally put most of them in the basket of the first few weeks of November. So getting out mid-October wasn't too bad, but still behind schedule.
A buddy and I crossed a creek that was dry last year, save for a few holes here and there. My treestand was on the top edge of the bank and looking down behind it I was 30 feet above the gravel bar. The scene bothered me as I'm not a big fan of heights. Little did I know Mother Nature would solve THAT particular problem for me.
We came up the bank and my buddy says, "Where's your treestand?"
I said, "To heck with the treestand, where's the TREE?"
Nothing looked out of place and there was no sign of the tree or my stand immediately below in the creek.
"It's GONE!" I hollered.
"No way!" my buddy said.
The tree was a huge oak tree that towered at least 70-80 feet in the air and two grown men couldn't reach around it's base.
"That was a brand new stand and it probably looks like a cheap mess of bent-up scrap metal wherever it ended up," I said. "There goes $150!"
Intent on unraveling the mystery, my buddy started walking the high bank of the creek. Moments later he hollered.
"I think I found your stand," he said. "And I think it's okay."
I made my way downstream at least 75 yards and rounded the corner. There, right in the middle of the creek was my tree, and treestand that looked virtually unscathed. The ratchet strap holding the top and ladder brace support were still attached. My Realtree EZ Hanger bowholder and bow haul rope were still in place exactly as they were the last time I crawled into it last fall.
"NO WAY!" I said surprised it wasn't a twisted mess and totaled.
Upon closer inspection, the stand was exactly as I'd left it. The huge oak must have fallen over backwards in the torrential rains we had in late August and then turned, root-wad first, and floated downstream to its final resting place. All the while my stand stayed on the top side of the huge trunk.
"That's UNBELIEVABLE!" my buddy said numerous times as we both had a good laugh.
I released the ratchet straps and got the stand loose from the tree. I tied a rope to it and threw it to my buddy and scampered back to the gravel bar and pulled it ashore. Checking it over carefully we found no real signs of damage. Virtually NONE!
"What are the odds that thing wouldn't be just torn up and bent all to pieces?" my buddy asked.
"Slim and none!" I said.
The odds were such I stopped on the way back to town and bought $5 worth of lottery tickets thinking it really might be my lucky day. I must have used up all my luck as I'm still at work this week! But I've got a treestand that could tell a heckuva story if it could talk and I don't have to buy another one!