Seven weeks into a season is never an easy to time to find hunting success, especially for turkeys. A lot of toms have been carted home by hunters, the birds figure out where to hang so hunters can’t get them and habitat conditions have changed greatly since early in the season.
Skip Hidlay and I knew that when we headed into Chase County mid-morning on Saturday. And while we saw plenty of turkeys gusting winds made it almost impossible to hear or be heard with calls. The best flock we saw disappeared into a wide-open section of rolling prairie.
Twenty years ago that would have bothered me. Saturday we just changed our focus to birding and fishing.
We weren’t a mile from where we met in Matfield Green when we got a stunning, point-blank look at a male PAINTED BUNTING. It was the first time Skip had seen one of the tropical-looking birds. It was the most wide-open and closest look I’ve ever had at one, too.
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An INDIGO BUNTING was politely waiting in the wide-open when we got to our hunting spot. We found several others, including one only a few yards away as we walked and turkey called along the edge of some woods.
No shortage of SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHERS, either. Amid the dozen or so was a big male missing one side of his long, namesake tail. I wondered if that meant he could only turn one direction when working a swarm of flying insects.
Fishing was pretty good in a gorgeous stream that runs through the ranch. My biggie was that most of the bass I caught were spotted bass, the native fish to Flint Hills streams. Skip caught a largemouth of about 2 1/2-pounds. That’s a dandy for a small stream.
So, no turkeys but lots of great wildlife to be seen and fish to be caught.
And we also learned that an ice-cold Freestate beer tastes a lot better while you’re overlooking a great Flint Hills view than about anywhere else in Kansas.
Not a bad day, huh?