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!
Thursday, September 29, 2011
I went to Melvern Reservoir this weekend to fish with a buddy in a small gathering of Kansas Walleye Association members, friends and family. We planned to spend the night Saturday and fish Sunday, too. So after a delicious meal Saturday evening of fried fish with plenty of fixin's, I decided it was time to blow up my bed I'd use in the back of my truck. It was a new one and prior to leaving home I tried to find the dimensions on the box to make sure it would fit between the wheel wells of the truck bed. There were no dimensions and I reasoned...surely, it will fit. NOT!
As it inflated it I knew I was in trouble. It would barely fit the bed, let alone between the fender wells. Plan B was to throw it out on the ground and sleep under the stars. But as the wind picked up and the sun set, I thought that might be a bit too chilly. So at about 9:30 p.m., and darker than dark, I decided to put up the tent I brought.
The tent was also new and I'd never put it together. I positioned my truck so the headlights would help illuminate my work space. The tent was a pain. After 10 minutes or so my truck lights would go off automatically to keep the battery from running down. That's all fine and dandy but I had to turn them back on three or four times to get the stupid tent up.
Next order of business was to put my nice, new blow-up bed in the tent. Well I can tell you from experience a queen size blow-up bed will not fit through the door of a Coleman Expedition 2-3-person tent (which is a misnomer...you could share it with ONE person, but it better be someone you're intimate with as there's a good chance you'd have body parts touching all night long). So, I had to partially deflate the bed enough to fold it to get it in the door of the tent and then inflate again once inside. It's getting late by now and my mood isn't good.
I go to start my truck to move it and it won't crank. Yes, I was too stupid to simply start and let my truck run while I needed the headlights. Dead battery. Another guy in camp has a battery charger and we hook it up and let it go overnight.
I sleep rather well despite my troubles. But when I woke up at 6:30 a.m. I tried to figure out every way possible to avoid getting out of a really warm sleeping bag to pee. When it got to the point I couldn't roll over in my cozy bag without feeling like I'd pee my pants I crawled out into the cool, brisk air.
It was a wonderful morning. I went to start my truck to head to the restroom and it wouldn't crank. The charger connection continued my wonderful string of good luck. NOT! After jumping it I was good to go and fortunately made it.
I tore down the tent and deflated my air bed. I may have cussed both a bit as I threw them in the truck. And then we went fishing and things got better. Although the fishing wasn't fantastic, we did catch nearly 30 keeper-sized crappie. But I won't remember the fishing as much as I will my screwed up sleeping arrangements. Sometimes the best laid plans aren't even close.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
But there are still kids who grow up in the country. Their backyard is the world's coolest playground where they're free to roam woods and waters. They learn about how nature works actually being part of it rather than something they see on the Disney Channel. They're more comfortable with a fishing rod or .22 rifle in their hands rather than a video game controller. That's reassuring to me.
I got the pleasure to meet one such youngster last weekend. A buddy and I were fishing at Melvern Reservoir as part of a small get together of Kansas Walleye Association members, friends and family. Although generally hardcore about toothy critters most were chasing crappie this weekend. On Sunday young Zach Larson jumped in the boat with us. He was impressed with my buddy's Ranger boat and looked forward to going "really fast."
Over the next few hours I got to know Zach. He lives in the country with plenty of room to fish, hunt and trap. He was more at ease with a fishing rod in his hands than many adults I've seen. And his knowledge of the outdoors was even more impressive. We talked about trapping, duck and goose hunting, deer hunting, squirrel and rabbit hunting and fishing for many species of fish in ponds and creeks. He knew his stuff and was articulate, polite and knowledgeable well beyond his years.
As we were stowing rods and gear I asked Zach if he liked video games to which he replied, "Nah, I think they're pretty boring...I'd rather be fishing or hunting."
Now that's my kind of kid. He's growing up right. I wish the world had more kids just like him.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
I really don't mind the fair, but after 22 years hanging out there for the majority of the time, I'm really glad to see it go by the time it's over. I enjoy chatting with people for the most part and visitors are genuinely interested in many of KDWPT's programs and projects. Most questions are informational in nature, and some even offer up the occasional "atta boy" for something the department has done or is doing. And of course, we get plenty of complaints, too. That just goes with the territory.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
http://www.kdwpt.state.ks.us/. Managed dove fields typically include sunflowers or wheat and either can be incredible under the right conditions. Much of the success or failure of some of these plots is at the mercy of Mother Nature. This year it seems she's cooperated and rain hasn't been an issue, at least in south central Kansas.
We arrived at 6 a.m. and there were already 22 vehicles in the parking lot and on the road. We picked up our survey cards and eased into the darkness knowing more hunters would be rolling in as shooting time approached. We donned bug spray and shooting glasses and waited for it to get light.
A few shots signaled the start of the 2011 season and it wasn't long and the barrage began. Doves came from all directions and I had to pass on dozens of shots where the doves were too low resulting in a dangerous shot under crowded conditions. But picking and choosing my angles and options I began to knock a few doves from the sky.
He was excited and happy about the morning's prospects. We marveled at the number of doves we'd seen and still flying. He had about 12 birds in his pile when I arrived and I told him I'd play bird dog and retrieve his remaining birds. It wasn't long and he had his limit, too.
We talked over a big breakfast back at town. The morning was a huge success and despite the crowded conditions everyone seemed to get along. I have to think if you could hit your butt with both hands you could have shot a limit of doves with as many birds as were flying. It was a perfect plan on a beautiful morning and KDWPT personnel should be proud of their efforts on behalf of Kansas' sportsmen and women.
The success of this project won't last too long as is the case with Kansas' dove season in general. A majority of the birds are killed the first week or 10 days of the season and then our harvest figures fall way off. But by then I'll have my fill and it will be time to look forward to the next item on fall's hunting calendar.