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Max Online: 16728 @ 03/25/12 08:51 AM
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#6981321 - 12/03/17 05:42 PM First trip to Kansas...Looking for some tips
Clint Faulkner Offline
Light Foot

Registered: 10/23/10
Posts: 49
Loc: Lubbock, Tx
Me and a buddy have started planning an impulse trip to Kansas to do some pheasant hunting. Looking to hunt a mix of WIHA and state owned wildlife areas around Dodge City. I know there were extensive fires up there earlier this year, how has that affected bird numbers? not looking for specific areas, but any little bit to help make the trip successful would be much appreciated.
_________________________
Some people go to church and think about fishing, I go fishing and think about God.

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#6981352 - 12/03/17 06:04 PM Re: First trip to Kansas...Looking for some tips [Re: Clint Faulkner]
bill oxner Online   content
THF Celebrity

Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 41552
Loc: Katy-Fulshear
I have a friend who published a great guide in the Pointing Dog Jounal last year. I'll see if I can find a link.
_________________________
Quail hunting is like walking into, and out of a beautiful painting all day long. Gene Hill









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#6981421 - 12/03/17 06:57 PM Re: First trip to Kansas...Looking for some tips [Re: Clint Faulkner]
Michael Wilson Online   content
Bird Dog

Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 433
watching!!!!!!!!! Thinking of doing the same!!!!
_________________________
God Bless and Semper FI

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#6981446 - 12/03/17 07:10 PM Re: First trip to Kansas...Looking for some tips [Re: Clint Faulkner]
bill oxner Online   content
THF Celebrity

Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 41552
Loc: Katy-Fulshear
This is really good. He goes every year.





Bill....there is no link to the magazine article that I know of but you can use this if you would like............
Ray


Subject: Hunting Kansas Alone(final version)

Hunting Kansas Alone

I have hunted Kansas alone now for over a dozen years and It’s not because I’m anti-social, or even for a lack of friends who like to hunt wild birds over dogs, actually, I have plenty of those. The real reason I do so has nearly everything to do with my vocation.

You see, I’m a farmer in Ohio and we run about 1,400 acres of grain crops and about 100 acres of vegetables. The brunt of that latter acreage being sweetcorn that we pick by hand for quality purposes. That of course keeps me quite busy 7 days a week from March until right up to Thanksgiving, depending on a little cooperation from the weather of course. But, when the combine is put away and the equipment winterized, I am more than ready to pack up the dogs and the scatter guns and head west for weeks at a time. And therein lies the reason for my solitude. I don’t know of anyone really, who can leave home for that long of a stretch without answering to the wife or to family commitments or find a friend willing to spend all their vacation time on doing just one thing. So, off I go on my own.

I have been asked several times, “Why Kansas?” “Why do you drive the 1,100 miles?” The answer is rather simple: Pheasants, Bobwhites, and Prairie Chickens, not to mention that there are over 1,000,000 acres of public land to hunt. My first bird dog Allie was doing rather well on preserve birds as a pup but, nearly everything I read and everyone I had talked to on this Magazine’s Bulletin Board said that only wild birds make a true bird dog. Excellent advice by the way….and so I had made up my mind, Kansas it was.

It made perfect sense to me, that the potential exposure to 3 different species of game birds should really help her (and my) career along. I got online and ordered a Kansas Hunting Regulations booklet along with their WIHA (Walk-In Hunting Area) maps book through the Kansas Department of Parks and Recreation website. (You can also download the map but, I prefer the old paper version so you can jot down notes on if needed and to look at while slowly driving down a country road.) The regulations book has population density maps of the three species and I just picked the area of the state where the densest populations of those three birds overlapped. Pure genius, right?

Now, that first year I will admit I didn’t do things like I should have. I hate to use such a worn out pun but, I left Ohio and just “winged” it. I knew I wanted to get away from the major cities in Kansas for obvious reasons but, I didn’t want to be in a “one stop sign” hamlet either. As I was driving I kept hearing on the radio that there was a blizzard coming (even though it was 63 degrees) and that one should seek shelter ASAP, and at one point I actually saw a little twister in front of the impending cold front. Better keep heading west away from that thing I thought, and then in about an hour I saw it, a nice looking hotel with a flashing sign “Pets Welcome.”

And that’s how Kansas is for the most part. The people I have met are friendly and courteous and you will see “Hunters Welcome” signs and posters in the windows of hotels, restaurants, grocery stores and even gas stations. They know us hunters are their bread and butter and really do appreciate our business. In fact, the maids at the hotel I have stayed at all these years have been known to put mints on my pillows and dog biscuits on the dog’s pillows when they clean the room. They even had my ice bucket filled and waiting for me more times than I can recall. And yes, I always get a room with two Queen sized beds. One for me and one for my “gear” also known as my dogs. They deserve for it to feel like home, they work hard for me. They were right about the blizzard by the way.

If you are thinking of going for the first time, the best advice I could give is to try to find a city not so small that they don’t have a liquor store but, not so big that they have a Walmart. That way you will be in close proximity of nearly anything you might need, but not be in a city where you feel crowded. I would definitely advise you to make hotel reservations a few months in advance once you have decided on your base of operations in the state. Speaking of hotels, you will find everything from the larger and mid-sized “chain” hotels on down to mom and pop operations with prices from $34.00 a night on up. Most places I have seen charge about $10 a night per pup. There are also quite a few camping areas to be had if that is more your style. Many of the hotels even have game cleaning stations.

Now, the for the most important thing I can tell you about hunting Kansas as I see it, plan your trip so that you have a full day to scout around while in your vehicle before you do any hunting. I can’t stress this enough.

Your WIHA map will look very enticing at first and might even make you mistakenly think that you will find quality hunting grounds with little effort. Believe me, you will not be happy when you have the dogs and gear all ready, after you have gotten up early and then you end up driving until noon (or later) never stepping out of the vehicle because you can’t find good cover.

I say this because I have found out that last year’s milo stubble field that held two coveys and a Rooster, most likely will be this year’s 4” tall barren Winter Wheat field. Or, as in the case of the last three out of four years, with the drought that has occurred in much of the Central United States, you may drive around and find that the farmers were given permission by the USDA to mow their CRP grass for hay to save their livestock from starving. What they leave of the grass will look exactly like a manicured brown golf course. There is nice cover around, but you do need to put in the effort to find it.

By the way, Kansas does an excellent job of marking public hunting areas and even where the private property lines begin. I have never been in doubt if I was in the correct area. Ever.

So then, if you are looking for Quail, concentrate on creek bottoms, especially when there is milo stubble present. Look on your WIHA map for the little blue dashes showing waterways running through a public area. Scout for what I call “dirty” creek bottoms that have weeds where the herbicide sprayer couldn’t reach or fence lines that haven’t been mowed or sprayed and again milo is ever so important and wild plum thickets are always a plus. Binoculars are a help.

If you are wanting to chase Roosters then knee high to chest high CRP grass is what you are looking for. The kicker again is that there must be some food source next to or adjacent to the grass. Be it milo stubble or corn/bean stubble it must be within walking distance for the birds or even a short flight for them. I have seen hens by the dozens leaving their roost early in the morning and flying to food up to a few hundred yards away. Roosters of course are usually more secretive especially as the season progresses. If you win the bird cover lotto and find a clump of cattails near a cattle pond in good grass, don’t tell a soul, you may be in for a memory of a lifetime.

When you do find places that look promising mark them in your GPS (I have a Garmin Nuvi) and don’t do like I did my first year and just mark them as Hunt #1, Hunt #2 etc. because if you are anything like me, you will soon forget what cover was where because after a while the countryside starts all looking the same. You will waste a lot of time driving around semi-lost, burning daylight. Mark your potential good hunting areas as the nearest crossroads. Oh, and one thing about GPS’s out in the west, the things will try to take you through places where there are no roads at times. It’s a lot of fun.

Don’t be afraid to travel a good distance to find good cover. I regularly will travel up to 60 miles or so from the hotel to hunt. The further out in the country the better, read: less hunting pressure. I avoid the public areas near major highways or places that are just so obvious that you know they get a lot of pressure. Also, look for the little public areas on your WIHA map that are off by themselves and scout them out. I think most hunters (me included at first) will concentrate on the areas that have a large number of Walk-In areas in close proximity. I have found some gems that were just a small 40 acres or so that have produced year after year and show little sign of ever being hunted.

Again, please do yourself a huge favor, put in the windshield time before you hunt. You won’t regret it. Also, non-residents are required to show proof of participation in a hunter safety course in order to purchase a hunting license in Kansas. A really good thing to know before you get there.

There are some real advantages to hunting alone, one being of course that you get to do all the shooting, plus there is no one there to see you miss and ride you for half the night. There is though, just something really nice about being out there on your own, watching the dogs do what they love and not having to worry about someone else. It’s also nice to be fully in charge of when cocktail hour begins. I will admit that making a stellar shot on a Rooster or scoring on a “True Double” on Quail by yourself is a bit anti-climactic when you don’t have anyone to high five or brag with. There you are jumping up and down in celebration and then you remember it’s only you and your dog, and he/she is looking at you like you need to be committed. Or, a rural school bus drives by loaded with kids whose blank expressionless faces tell you all you need to know on how silly you must look.

There are a few tricks I have learned over the years while hunting alone. One is using your vehicle as a “blocker” for Pheasants. If you see birds escaping from a certain part of the field during an earlier hunt you can park your vehicle as close to that spot as you can later in the week. If you can park part way in the ditch or field, do so. Hunt the field making the last push with the pups right toward your vehicle. I find that the birds are leery of running by a vehicle because I think they just are so used to things being a certain way in their “home” and then all of a sudden there is some large object in their escape path. It doesn’t always work but more often than not it will help make them sit tight for a dog. Just make sure you don’t shoot out your windows. One other thing I have noticed with pheasants is that I seem to do better with them actually hunting with the wind. When your dog casts 100 yards or so and hunts back into the wind towards you, I think the birds feel the “pinch” of being pressured from two sides, by the dog and by you, and then have a tendency to hold for a point or at least flush off to the side within gun range.

A perfect example of this occurred with my ten month old pup Kate, just this last season. The dogs and I hit the South West corner of a nice piece of CRP grass and then headed north with the wind, Jill went out about 80 yards and then hit scent. She worked back to me for about 50 yards but then she gave it up. A classic indication of a circling bird especially in a heavy wind and tall grass. Thing is, this Rooster circled right in front of the pup who was also working back to me into the wind, about 40 yards to the right of Jill and myself. She made a beautiful point on her first wild pheasant and within two steps he was off with a cackle. I double tapped him to make sure Kate got her first wild prize and she made a nice little retrieve. I was elated.

Another thing I do since I’m alone is to run 2-3 dogs together when I hunt. If your dogs back well, only good things happen with more noses and footfalls to worry the Pheasants into holding for a point. It’s just a little advice I have used to good effect from Ben Williams’ writings.

I really should mention late season Prairie Chickens. They sure are fun to watch flying away from your moving truck at ¼+ mile away. Make that closer to a mile if you are on foot. Seriously, in my 12 years of hunting in Kansas I have had a grand total of one group of Chickens pointed within gun range and like a dope I mistook them for hen Pheasants. There were 7 of them and Allie got them pointed by cresting a hill without them seeing her in the tall grass. By the time #6 took off it finally dawned on me that they had the tell-tale feathers on their legs but it was too late. For the most part though, it’s nearly impossible to get within anything less than mortar range of them mid to late season. Chickens will actually post “sentries” or lookouts if you will, on fence posts, trees, or just on the upward side of a slope where the rest of the flock is feeding. When they see one whisker of your dog at 100 yards at best the entire flock, as many as 80 at a time, are off to Canada. Well, it sure seems that way because the buggers will fly to the horizon before putting back down. Yes, I hear that early in the season they are much easier to approach but, I never have had that luxury.

A few safety thoughts for you and your dogs. I always wear a lot of orange no matter the fact that I’m hunting alone. It’s not because I’m worried about other bird hunters, it’s my experience that after Thanksgiving I rarely see any. In fact, in twelve years I have only seen 4 groups of them and only once were they hunting where I planned to go. The other three I just saw driving down the road. The main reason is the deer rifle season runs through a good part of the Upland Bird season. I haven’t ever had a problem in the field but one never knows and I truly believe in erroring on the side of caution.

You might also consider a Hunter orange vest or skid-plate for your dogs. In the chest high golden grass, your dog will be invisible much of the time in mere seconds of letting them out of their boxes, especially if you run Britts or Vizslas. It’s uncanny just how close their coats match the color of the grass and it sure is nice to have that reassuring feeling of seeing that orange flash in the distance. The vest will also help with minimizing the cuts your dogs will get. That near razor sharp CRP grass sure is murder on a dog’s nose around their eyes and especially their belly without a vest.

I always run my dogs with a Garmin Astro. Yes, the obvious reason is to keep the dogs from getting lost and then also the added benefit of being able to find them on point but, I use it mainly to keep track of how many miles I’m putting on the dogs. There is some big country out there in the Sunflower State and it doesn’t take much time at all for a dog to really rack up the miles. I try not to hunt my dogs over 18 miles a day and it seems to keep them fresh for the ten days or so that we actually hunt. I’m a big fan of hunting two days and then resting the dogs a day if you have the time. It also sure helps with the old right knee that bent in a not-so funny position way back in my high school linebacker days. And, it gives the dogs scabby noses a day to heal from the grass.

A little more on the Astro and why I finally spent the money for the system: another story from Kansas. I was hunting Allie with her 7 month old pup Jill at the time, when both dogs went on point near a plum thicket in of course, Milo stubble. I marched around them and as I had hoped, a nice covey of about 15 Bobs exploded at my feet. I centered nice little male and took a quick poke at another escaping bird but, I was positive I had missed it. I was so determined to let Jill hunt “dead” and make the find to re-enforce a well pointed covey (her first) that I lost track of Allie. In all of 30 seconds Jill had found the dead bird but Allie was gone.

I blew my whistle like a freight train but nothing. The last time I saw her she was near a fence line and some tall grass on a huge piece of private property. It was windy, blowing a good 30 MPH and I knew if she was till in earshot it wasn’t going to be for long. I yelled and whistled, Jill cowered because she thought she had done something wrong, my stomach was in several knots. Pure panic was in full attack mode and I was damned scared. I finally decided after a few minutes to re-load and shoot up into the air with both barrels as a last resort and thank the dear Lord above it worked. With the last echoes of my shots returning to me, I thought I heard the faint “tinkle” of Allie’s dog tags on her collar. As the seconds ticked by, sure enough, there it was, that glorious sound of my dog coming back to me. And wouldn’t you know it, she had a Quail in her mouth!! Apparently, I had just scratched down that second bird and it must have run which is rare for a wounded Bob. I’m not ashamed to say I kissed Allie right full on her nose and we called it a day. That night I was on the internet deciding on which Astro model to buy.

I know they are expensive, but the peace of mind an Astro, or any GPS system for your dogs, is worth every penny. I never hunt my girls without it. Ever. Please, give it some thought if you don’t already own one.

As for other dangers to be on the lookout for, besides the typical barbed wire problems our dogs get into, there isn’t much else to worry about. Yes, there has been the odd Porcupine or Coyote or the even more rare bobcat showing up without incident but, as for bears or snakes or wolves you are in good shape. Allie did get “attacked” (if you could call it that, just a little head butting really) by a wounded deer once but, as soon as I figured out what was going on in the plum thicket and the deer realized I was there, the encounter was over with Allie just having her feelings hurt a little, if that.

Kansas bird numbers are heavily dependent on spring and summer rainfall for cover and insects for the young of the year. To be completely honest, game bird numbers and the amount of available cover have been hurt by that three-year drought but, last year’s somewhat normal rains brought Pheasant numbers up a good 30% and Bobwhites as much as 60%- 80% according to reports in some areas. So, if you find yourself with time to take a trip but no one to go with you, by all means give it a try, you might just make it a wonderful habit like I have. Oh, and if you see a truck with Ohio plates and some fool jumping up and down in a field by himself nearby, do us both a favor and just keep on driving by.
_________________________
Quail hunting is like walking into, and out of a beautiful painting all day long. Gene Hill









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#6981590 - 12/03/17 08:55 PM Re: First trip to Kansas...Looking for some tips [Re: Clint Faulkner]
Sniper John Offline
gumshoe

Registered: 08/31/05
Posts: 16682
Loc: North Texas
From the moment you step out of the truck to the moment you step back in the truck.

Always be ready.
Always believe there is a bird in front of you.
Always believe your dog.

That is the secret to hunting pressured public pheasants.
_________________________


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#6981763 - 12/04/17 06:21 AM Re: First trip to Kansas...Looking for some tips [Re: Clint Faulkner]
stinkbelly Offline
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 09/07/04
Posts: 7188
Loc: Parker County, Tx
I just did the same thing. I threw the dogs in the truck and went up there this past Thursday and got home last night. I hunted all public. The birds are all hiding in the thickest stuff you can find or on private. They will flush at 100 yards if you make a sound. I found a ton of them in some stuff that was too thick for anyone else to hunt and luckily shot some.

The quail were everywhere and held tight. They even held after the shot and gave me time to reload.

Deer hunters were everywhere too.

PM me if you want some specifics.

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#6982102 - 12/04/17 10:23 AM Re: First trip to Kansas...Looking for some tips [Re: Sniper John]
Esh and Hattie Offline
Bird Dog

Registered: 01/05/14
Posts: 377
Loc: N Texas
Originally Posted By: Sniper John
From the moment you step out of the truck to the moment you step back in the truck.

Always be ready.
Always believe there is a bird in front of you.
Always believe your dog.

That is the secret to hunting pressured public pheasants.


That's so true. Spent many years hunting Kansas public, if your dog "suggests" you check out a particular piece of cover. GO! Can't tell you how many roosters we would find in some cover we never would've thought just because the dog winded something. They find all the places no one walks.

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#6982242 - 12/04/17 11:59 AM Re: First trip to Kansas...Looking for some tips [Re: Esh and Hattie]
stinkbelly Offline
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 09/07/04
Posts: 7188
Loc: Parker County, Tx
Originally Posted By: Esh and Hattie
Originally Posted By: Sniper John
From the moment you step out of the truck to the moment you step back in the truck.

Always be ready.
Always believe there is a bird in front of you.
Always believe your dog.

That is the secret to hunting pressured public pheasants.


That's so true. Spent many years hunting Kansas public, if your dog "suggests" you check out a particular piece of cover. GO! Can't tell you how many roosters we would find in some cover we never would've thought just because the dog winded something. They find all the places no one walks.


All of this happened to me this past weekend. I walked a huge area and was 10 feet from my truck. I broke open my double barrel and a rooster flew out of the ditch by my truck. Later that day I was working a brush line. The wind shifted for a second and one of my dogs turned her head 90 degrees and I could tell it was on. Unfortunately he knew we were coming and started to run. At least I saw him and knew the dog was right. The dog is always right.

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#6982293 - 12/04/17 12:42 PM Re: First trip to Kansas...Looking for some tips [Re: Clint Faulkner]
P_102 Online   content
Pro Tracker

Registered: 09/23/08
Posts: 1014
Loc: Grapevine
Unfortunately the Dodge City area is not very good this year. Our group of seven, all having hunted the area for years and know it well, only managed 6 roosters on opening Saturday and never kicked up a single bird on Sunday. Saving grace is that the quail population is much better than usual. P_102
_________________________
Do not trifle in the affairs of dragons, for thou art crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

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#6983228 - 12/04/17 09:45 PM Re: First trip to Kansas...Looking for some tips [Re: Clint Faulkner]
TrackQuack Offline
Bird Dog

Registered: 12/31/09
Posts: 462
Oxner - Great article from your friend

OP - do what others aren't willing or think to do, enter the field from the opposite side and push the birds to normal parking areas. Know the daily habits of the birds. I hunt with a lab and I have shot a good bit of public land pheasants by paying attention to the dog as others have said. When she takes off so do I. She has chased some roosters 200-300 yards in thick CRP before they get up.

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#6983339 - 12/05/17 12:02 AM Re: First trip to Kansas...Looking for some tips [Re: Sniper John]
Sniper John Offline
gumshoe

Registered: 08/31/05
Posts: 16682
Loc: North Texas
Originally Posted By: Sniper John
From the moment you step out of the truck to the moment you step back in the truck.

Always be ready.
Always believe there is a bird in front of you.
Always believe your dog.

That is the secret to hunting pressured public pheasants.


Always be ready - Have your gear together the way you want it, vest loaded the way you want it, etc. before reaching your hunting area. Be ready to hunt and start the hunt the moment you park and step out of your vehicle and cross the fence. No fiddling with gear, no eating breakfast at the truck, no slamming doors etc. With many public pheasant hunters, the majority of pheasants will have moved half way across a WIHA before the hunters ever left the truck.

Always believe there is a bird in front of you. And this includes part two of always be ready. BELIEVE there is a bird in front of you the moment you step onto the property and load your gun until the moment your unload the gun before stepping back off the property. Always hold that gun at ready for that bird that you believe is in front of you no matter how bored, tired, or sore you are. No matter how far you have been walking without seeing a bird. This means NEVER walking along with the gun over your shoulder just daydreaming. And if you unload the shotgun on a bird, believe there is a second and third bird that has not flushed. Immediately reload.

Believe the dog. If you own a bird dog, you know why I added it. But it's especially true with public pressured pheasants. Those birds can run up on you, away from you, where you just passed. They can move around crazy or they can hold unusually tight no matter what is going on, even duck into holes until you pass. I have even had rabbits run out from the point before a flush. If the dog is birdy, believe the dog. The dog will be right more often than wrong. Well, that is unless you own a Vizsla. The Vizsla is always right.

It is harder than you might think to stay true to those three points during an entire hunt, but it becomes natural if you practice it. The limit is only 4 birds. You can turn a great hunting area into a short hunt or a poor hunting area into a great hunt if your not watching the first 4 or only 4 birds you see just fly away.
_________________________


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