The stars may never align like this again...in one single sports year I was able to watch my two favorite teams win World Championships!!!
Monday, February 8, 2016
Friday, February 5, 2016
People keep telling me this was a poor waterfowl season and the migration was "messed-up". We hunted well in excess of 50 times during the season and found birds on every hunt. Alternating between river hunts, field hunts and pond hunts was a must, also, constant scouting was a key ingredient to success this year. We often found birds in areas where just a few days prior we had not seen them. They seemed to do a lot of bouncing around, whereas in years past they would stay in one area until forced out by hunting pressure or ice.
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
This season has been filled with many ups and downs.
At times it felt like there was a little black rain cloud over my head! Take for example the evening before Thanksgiving, hunting the tail-end of the Kansas rut, with just a few minutes of shooting light remaining a breathtaking whitetail buck started walking down the lane toward my stand. ~PAUSE~ Now rewind several hours earlier....I had somehow managed to squeeze an evening hunt into very rigid travel plans made by my lovely wife, the trade-off was catching a ride with my father in-law to our destination at a prearranged time. Due to the intricate structure of the plans and precise timing involved, I had decided it was a good idea to not silence my phone in the event plans needed altering. ~UNPAUSE~ Now at 50 yards, this typical 10-point is continuing his approach completely unaware of my presence. His scheduled arrival would put him at 22 yards in my "bread & butter" shooting lane. So sure of this deer's impending fate, with each step he took in my direction, I contemplated various excuses I would provide my wife and family to explain my extreme tardiness from the pre-Thanksgiving festivities. The moment of truth had arrived, now at 23-yards and only one tree left to clear before getting the green light, I drew. Maybe it was the creak of the stand, or subtle noises from my jacket, or the slide of the arrow across the rest, but something had grabbed his attention and his approach ceased one step short of becoming a trophy on my wall. At full draw, all I could see from behind the scrubby hedge tree was 166" of antler (the duration of his pause actually allowed me to calculate a rough B/C score)...as he lifted his foot to take his last step, it happened. A vibration in my left chest pocket, an innocent one second vibration, a silent warning which would become the precursor to disaster. Time stood still, image the feeling of seeing the timer reach zero on a time bomb, all that's left now is the boom! The boom in this case came in the form of a loud phone screaming in my pocket!! Immediately upon detecting the unnatural noise, I watched what had now become 175" of antler whirl and blow away. At 70 yards he paused and briefly looked back in my direction, but quickly sprinted off when he heard the raunchy string of obscenities I had unleashed. There was nothing left to do but sit in my stand under the little black cloud and weather the storm.....the real salt in the wound was The Call, it was my wife calling to make sure everything was on schedule, I explain how ill timed her call was to which she replies, "why would someone trying to be quiet not silence their phone, that's just dumb!"
On at least three separate occasions this season, I got phone calls on a Thursday or Friday with a scouting report proclaiming epic numbers of waterfowl had been located and plans were made for a weekend slaughter. Not one shot was fired on these so-called "slam dunk" hunts, my phone went silent by late season as all of buddies drew weary of my bad ju ju.
All of this said I cannot complain about this season, I was fortunate enough to hunt more days than most managing to fill the freezer and am still alive to tell about it. This year's hunting adventures spanned 2 countries and 7 states. The best part was all the friends I was able to spend time with along the way, I especially enjoyed spending time with my boy as his interest in the outdoors continues to grow!
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to hunt ducks and geese in Canada. The thought of being able to work birds which had not been shot at from Canada to Kansas held a certain appeal. This Spring an invitation was extended to hunt waterfowl in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. The owner of the farm promised his property was some of the best in North America. After a 24-hour drive, I found myself initially disappointed in the landscape. Referred to as the "prairie pot-hole" region, it doesn't take much to see why. There are few trees and crop (wheat, peas, barley and canola) fields as far as the eye can see. The disappointment quickly faded, after taking a closer look, you begin to notice the hundreds of pot-holes scattered around, then you notice that each pot-hole is covered with ducks and geese.
The first evening was spent scouting a field to set-up for geese the next morning. It didn't take long to find a field which was holding birds. It was then I learned all land in the providence, unless posted, is open to hunting! Our first goose hunt saw some slow shooting, but in the afternoon we set-up for ducks and had a four man limit in 30 minutes! Each day the same routine was followed: field goose hunting in the AM, a breakfast break, slough duck hunting in the PM, then field scouting before sunset followed by dinner. Never had I been witness to such numbers of ducks and geese. On one particular pot-hole, which was only 25 yards long and 25 yards wide, the ducks never stopped trying to land on the water. Even when shots were fired, another flock would circle and commit to land...we literally shot ducks as fast as we could load our guns.
I offer testimony that Canadian waterfowl hunting is amazing! We shot hundreds of birds and only lacked 2 species of ducks from bagging every species the Central Fly Way has to offer. I am already looking forward to going back next year and getting a jump start on the season.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
The beginning of a new era was ushered in last week when my son and nephew accompanied me on their first out-of-state hunting adventure. Benjamin and Brock have both anxiously awaited their opportunity to hit the road and experience the joys of a full blown hunting camp. No doubt their first trip will leave them wanting more!
After some serious diplomacy, convincing the moms the trip was worthy of an absence from school, we struck-out and drove west to New Mexico in pursuit of Pronghorn Antelope. After a 7-hour drive, we arrived at the 136,000 acre ranch and joined a camp of roughly 25 guys. The camp was hosted by the Sutherland family and was beyond impressive. This years camp marked 20+ years of Sutherland family and friends gathering to fellowship and hunt.
While setting-up our tent, the boys became gravely concerned about the lack of air conditioning and other standard amenities offered by the camper, after several minutes of explanation, they came to the realization one could survive a few days without TV and AC.
The boys quickly made new friends with the other 5-6 youth in camp and set out to explore their surroundings. Within the first few hours, they learned the desert is full of things which can cause pain...red ants, cactus, rattle snakes, taranchulas, and scorpions to name a few. Never-the-less, they ventured fourth without fear!
The ranch is home to several large prairie dog towns and a favorite activity was prairie dog population control. There was also an area which had been setup as a rifle range and much time was spent shooting at targets.
The ranch was full of deep canyons and we had a blast taking a jeep trail ride.
Without a doubt, the highlight of the trip was having the boys present when I was fortunate enough to harvest a nice antelope. The trip was short, but I imagine the memories will last a long time!
Monday, May 14, 2012
The 2012 Spring Turkey Season will be unforgettable for many reasons, but mostly because of all the tears. I have been humbled and honored to chase birds with some amazing people who have truly touched my life. Hunting is supposed to be all macho, but on at least three separate occasions I have been teary eyed.
The first waterworks came while hunting with my 7 year old son. Early in the season, while sitting over the decoys waiting on the birds, Completely out of the blue, Ben gets up from my lap and throws his arms around my neck and says, "Dad I love you and I love hunting with you!" and then turns and sits back down in my lap. I was so choked-up, I could not call!
Then there was the Kansas Governor's Turkey Hunt. After spending two days with Daniel Raikes and his father Stephen I felt like we were all long lost kin. The entire Raikes family is so amazing, their demonstration of faith and strong family values is touching. During the Banquet, Daniel read his prize winning NWTF Essay. With a strong Kentucky accent and huge smile, he read his essay entitled, "Why I Hunt". After reading his essay, he gave the most honest and sincere acknowledgement of gratitude to God, his family and those who gave him the opportunity to hunt in Kansas. By the time he concluded his remarks, there were not many dry eyes in the room!
The most recent tears came in Wyoming, where I was asked to guide in the Old West Invitational Turkey Hunt. I was privileged to take SSG Joseph Fowler on his first turkey hunt. SSG Joseph Fowler joined the Army in 1997, at 18 years old, in order to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a military police officer. He served as a patrol military policeman until 2002 when he was accepted into the Military Working Dog Canine program where he was able to combine his love of animals with police work.
In June 2005, Joe was deployed to Iraq with his K-9 partner Dak. Dak was an explosives/apprehension trained 7 year old Belgian Treveren. The pair served the area searching for weapons caches and assisting infantry members with raids and searching for insurgents. In December 2005, Dak and Joe were part of a three Humvee convoy in route to a warehouse to sweep a building where election voting was taking place in Baghdad. Only minutes from their destination, their Humvee struck a hidden anti-tank mine. Joe was immediately blown from the vehicle, on fire, approximately 60-80 feet through the air and landed, in oncoming traffic lanes. He quickly tried to extinguish the flames and assess his injuries. Unfortunately, his partner Dak and another soldier were killed in the blast. Joe was quickly rushed back to the base medical clinic and from there was airlifted to Balad, Iraq and then onto Landstuhl, Germany. After emergency surgery to try to save my limbs, he was flown to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.
In Texas, it was officially determined that he had sustained third degree burns to 54% of his body as well as a fractured ankle, fractured wrist, dislocated elbow and mild brain injury. He began the long process of recovery starting with many surgeries. He was in intensive care for five weeks and then in the step down unit for another three months. He was released from the hospital in April 2006, but continued to have surgeries approximately once per month until his medical retirement in October 2007. From the day of my release until the day he left Texas, he required extensive physical therapy which he attended 5 days a week for two to three hours in order to get the limited motion he currently has. To date, he has had 20 surgeries. He struggles daily with the limited use of his hands - because of the burns and the methods required saving them, he cannot bend his fingers or move any of them independently.
Spending time with Joe was a hoot, his humor and love of God and Country is inspiring. Joe was fortunate enough to harvest a nice Merriam's turkey (his first turkey). Joe must of told me 500 times how thankful he was to have had me take him out hunting and his smile was never absent during the event. He was recognized on stage during one of the evening festivities where he received a standing ovation from the crowd for his service and sacrifice. After reluctantly taking the microphone, he thanked those who made it possible for him to hunt in Wyoming and then made me stand-up and said, "Today this guy gave me one of the most amazing memories which I will never forget."
Guess what??? For a third time this season I was misty eyed!