Oh Kansas…

If you’ve never hunted Kansas, you really should. Being a Southeastern Oklahoma boy, I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. The wide-open spaces, the waving grass and, of course the wind. The winds a whole other story.  It’s remarkable to me how beautiful the landscape is. And despite being heavily farmed, the abundance of wildlife. Perhaps there’s not more, it’s just that you can see more but I digress.  Its November 5th and as I’m sitting here typing this, I’m perched about 15 feet up in a tree located on a tree line which divides a CRP field on one side and a field of uncut milo on the other (harvest has been delayed because of late rainfall). The tree line consists mostly of cottonwoods, bois d’arc and cedar in that order. And the ground below them is a minefield of littered tree branches and horse apples, or what we call Osage Oranges, that you are certain no deer could ever traverse, but they do. It’s also where squirrels work frantically (and annoyingly if you’re a deer hunter) in the dawn and dusk windows.

Sunrises are riveting.  At first light the day shift begins and the CRP which looks like a sea of tan grass and weeds springs to life, often heard but not seen. Deer pass through it like ghosts – appearing and disappearing in what looks like flat ground an antler here an ear there.   No wait, their way the hell over there!  

If you ever take a moment to have a seat in the grass, it’s hard to believe how warm it gets and obvious why wildlife abounds in its serenity. Pheasants cackle in both the morning and evening light while birds and bugs a plenty chirp and buzz all day long. Geese and ducks can often be heard overhead. If you are lucky you might even see or hear some Turkeys gobbling, clucking and feeding along.  Maybe even the digital sounding song of the Sandhill Crane passing overhead as they migrate through. When dark nears the pheasants give way to the night shift. Critters like raccoons, armadillos and possums scurry.  While owls and coyotes give an audible warning that they are on the job. Occasionally you’ll hear the hum of a combine as a farmer works under a mixture of moonlight and headlights trying to beat tomorrows forecast for rain.

As for the sunsets, they are ravishing and unparalleled by anything you’ve ever seen. The sun once down sets the stage for the stars which are breathtaking and unpolluted by artificial light.  Last night, in fact, the Big Dipper looked so large and low to the landscape I felt like I could walk over and climb inside its scoop. Truly a sight to behold.

Through all of this continues the wind, rarely ceasing but continuously changing its mind as to where it’s headed. During November, the mornings are frigid.  The middle of the day is relative to the sun, warm when the suns upon you and instantly cool when it’s not. But don’t let all this exalting of its beauty steer you astray, when it’s cold it can be a brutal beast.  I don’t think I’ve ever been colder in all my life than in Kansas.  On one particular day that I received an error from my iPhone: “to hot to operate”. I guess it doesn’t get that cold in Palo Alto….  So, just know the wind will cut you to the bone. It’ll make you fidget and shift so much that there’s no way a deer in the county couldn’t spot you.

I don’t know where I’m leading with all of this if only to paint a picture of what it’s like and to suggest you try it for yourself. Just be sure to bring your warm layers. All of them.

 

The 8Point

 

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