Monday, October 5, 2009


September 15 marks the opener of the "real" bird season in Kansas: prairie chickens. I didn't get to hunt them during the early season last year, but had some success during the general season later in the year. This year would be special. After a few years of stories and pictures my Dad decided to join me on his first bird hunt in more than 40 years--mostly shooting the camera, but he would get to pull the trigger as well. Wes joined us as well, only without Doc, who's been sick lately, but is improving.

On the way west we stopped to hunt a spot along the way before the sun set. Fifteen minutes into the hunt Sage pointed and was rebuffed by a stink-rat. What a way to start the season! I couldn't help but laugh.

Ike managed to point a small group of chickens but they flushed wild as the guns approached. Sage may have bumped them, and that's all the action we would see that evening. After a stop for dinner at So Long Saloon in Manhattan we washed the dog at a carwash that also had a doggie wash pod. It did help to some degree, but my fiancé still thinks he stinks.

We were up early the next morning to hit the same spot where I found my first prairie chickens back in 2006. Ike put down a nice run yet we were unable to locate any chickens in our first hunt. From there we moved to my honey hole, a spot that produced nearly every time I've hunted it. Hunting the pasture south Wes nearly stepped on two small groups of chickens and took a bird from each. The second bird flew across a road onto private ground so Wes took Sage over and he pointed the wounded bird in quick order. With Wes limited out he passed his shotgun to my Dad. A few minutes later a dozen chickens flushed several hundred yards out and we watched them sail away. So we continued walking.

And walking…

We looped back around and were cresting a hill when I heard the familiar chirp and confirmed that Sage was on point. I urged my Dad in and several chickens flushed straight away. Unfortunately there were cattle just beyond them so we didn't shoot, and then a few more flushed to the right offering clear shots. We both fired and I know we hit one bird, but it flew on strong. A couple more steps and another bird got up to the left and I dropped it. We decided to head in the direction the wounded bird flew, and several hundred yards further my Dad spotted the wounded chicken trying to hide along a cattle trail. We were unable to find any more birds.

Ike on a covey of quail we saw run across the road. I almost always work dogs on road birds (without a gun).

We ran Ike for an hour or so on Sunday and found some more quail and a young pheasant, but that's it. Already my Dad is talking about coming on the general upland season, and I am welcome to have him.

This past weekend I hunted with Wes, Mr. Scampwalker of 8 More Miles Blog, and Scampwalker Jr. Like the opener we covered a lot of miles but saw less birds. Still, the scenery was some of the best Kansas has to offer.

The fall colors are really starting to turn.

On Saturday we only managed to get close to one group of chickens, and I'll let you read Scampwalker's account. But basically we saw this...

And ended up with this...

And I learned one valuable lesson: wait longer to shoot.

Now, the task is to pack for Montana. Take care.


Rob said...

Just found your blog and it is awesome! I have a GSP and love to quail and pheasant hunt. I will definitely check back often.

Bret M said...

Just recently stumbled onto your blog. Your shots of the prairies are making me want to get my camera out when I run my dogs. Thanks, Bret