A memorable Kansas goose hunt

Since this is my blog I felt obligated to add my own comments to this post but my friend Michael Pearce has done such a perfect job describing and photographing it that no further comment is necessary. I’m grateful to Michael for allowing me to use his text and excellent photos.

My young friends/cousins, Isaac, 17, and Caleb, 14, spent a lot of time building “Duckingham Palace” with their grandfather last summer. It’s on land that’s been in their family for decades past, and will be in the future, as well. ­­­­­­­­

         Having waterfowl hunted the pond every way from laying on frozen ground to making a nice blind of livestock panels and grass, we agreed it was time for something that offered enough room to move about comfortably and with enough room for guests, like their parents and grandparents and, hopefully, someday children. I’d teased the boys long enough with stories of blinds with heaters and a nice camp stove for meals.

         When they were done, we had all of that and more. What we didn’t have was good hunting from the new blind, at least compared to past years when we did very well on ducks and took the occasional goose.

         Then, Tuesday happened. We pulled an all-day hunt, with warm donuts, delicious beef stew and snacks…and a far better goose hunt than we could have hoped for. The Canadas were big and worked like the flocks seen on hunting shows. We had sizable flocks hovering over the decoys like giant hummingbirds.

         All of us had our jobs, on which the others depended for such success. Cade, my Lab, made some long retrieves, including one blind with hand signals of about 200 yards and another that required squeaking under a tight livestock fence with an uncooperative goose in his face.

         We ended with 16 geese. Four had been our previous best.  

The boys had both lacked one from their first-ever limit of six, yet they didn’t shoot when a flock slowly drifted by just three minutes after legal shooting time. That was my favorite part of the hunt.

         Nobody except us would have known had they each taken a bird. Game wardens usually grant hunters several minutes of “grace time,” when it comes to legal hours. But to the boys, time to quit was time to quit, no matter if it was a second or an hour past. Many times we’d talked about how once bad habitats start, it’s very hard to get them stopped.  

The guys will make many pounds of delicious pastrami, jerky and snack sticks from the meat. Parts of the birds they didn’t use were quickly returned to the prairie, where things like migrating eagles, hawks and coyotes can get nutrition in Mother Nature’s circle of life.

Isaac will head to K-State next fall to study wildlife-related fields. I’d like to think he’s better equipped because of all the time he’s spent waterfowl hunting. Caleb has probably matured more in just the past year than any young man I’ve met. We will do fine, together, and I can have total trust in him as per safety and holding up his end of a hunt.

         Hopefully he’s got more cousins getting old enough to go. Isaac will obviously be the guest of honor when he comes home on breaks from school.

         When that happens we’ll no doubt kick back in “The Palace,” and remember this week’s very special hunt.

 

Ducks ducks ducks and more ducks

Clouds of ducks taking off from the Lone Oak Duck Club in western Missouri. Probably mostly mallards with a few shovelers, gadwalls and teal. But this video was taken in FEBRUARY! Where were they in November and December??

The guys worked hard all summer creating good  waterfowl habitat and I’m glad the birds can use it on their way  north. But the least the little bastards could do is allow the folks who did all the hard work a little action.

 

 

More big Kansas white tail bucks

My friend Dave lives just outside Shawnee Mission Park in Shawnee, KS which is home to a huge white tail deer population. Sometimes the deer wander over onto Dave’s property to get their pictures taken.

These two ten pointers and…I think the other is a twelve… wandered right in front of Dave’s trail cam. That’s a lot of venison on the hoof.

 

 

Kansas Wildlife & Parks magazine

This is my first Way Outside cartoon for Kansas Wildlife & Parks magazine. July/August 1998. If my math is right…and it sometimes isn’t…2022 will start my twenty-fourth year working with this wonderful publication.

I’m thankful that then-Editor Mike Miller took a chance on me and did something goofy and I’m blessed that when current Editor Nadia Reimer took the reins she chose to keep me on.

This magazine has made great strides since ’98 and I feel blessed to have been a part of it.

 

 

 

 

 

Another year of Marsh Madness

2022 will be the start of my 18th year drawing the Marsh Madness cartoon for Wildfowl magazine. I’m grateful to editor Jay Strangis for taking a chance on me. Skip Knowles followed Jay as editor and chose to keep the cartoons coming so I have Skip to thank as well.

For those of you who don’t see the magazine, here are the six 2021 Marsh Madness cartoons.

 

 

 

Say you were a duck…

Say you were a duck… flying along… just looking for a nice place to eat… and you saw a place like this, wouldn’t you lock up and cruise right in?

That’s apparently what this mallard drake did when he spotted the Lone Oak Duck Club.

Maybe the guys down below in the duck blind should have let him go so he could go back and tell all his buddies about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening Weekend at the Lone Oak Duck Club

If done right, owning a duck club is an all-year job and the guys at the Lone Oak Duck Club do it right.  That hot sweaty work all summer starts to pay off and by November  the  place is a duck cafeteria.

There’s a long season ahead, but first… the traditional night-before-opening-day bonfire.

Anticipation
We always eat well at the Lone Oak Duck Club
Chuck, ducks and golden retriever Zoe
 Zoe threading her way through the decoys to bring in a nice fat greenhead

 

Fast food from the farm

Fast food from the farm

The annual early teal season is usually a total crap shoot. At least it is at the Lone Oak Duck Club in western Missouri. Sometimes the little speedsters  have come and gone before the season opens. Other times they’re still up north.

The table is setNo need to brush a blind. Just hunker down in the flooded millet before daylight, load up and wait. And make sure you bring as much industrial strength mosquito repellant as you can carry.  The teal…usually blue wing… may show up or they won’t. The shooting will be over by 9 AM and you can go back to bed or do some chores around the farm.

This time the guys were in luck. Okay…a little luck anyway.