Kansas pheasant hunting is a blast, and we recently we made a trip to hunt in Satanta, Kansas, a town named in honor of the great Kiowa War Chief (and whom Blue Duck from Lonesome Dove was loosely based on) all the up way from Austin, Texas. It’s honestly not a bad drive when you have several folks exchanging the duties of wheel boss. We made decent time while taking in the incredible terrain changes that mark the transition from the Hill Country to the Panhandle plains.
Upland hunting is a favorite past time – especially Kansas pheasant hunting. I love the challenge of a swinging shot, the physical endurance it requires to walk terrain for miles, and the joy of a working dog in its prime…These things just can’t be beat! Couple that with the camaraderie of friends, and you create some incredible lifelong memories.
We arrived Friday night at our destination, Flatland Pheasants lodge. While it isn’t much to behold from the outside, the interior is comfortable and clean, and the home-cooked meals are great! Flatland Pheasants, owned by several local farmers, allows hunting on crop lands. Now, I’m not one to hunt thousands of acres of corn without asking as many questions about the process, and our hosts were gracious with entertaining my questions.
Of all, I was most surprised to learn that on all those thousands of acres, none of the corn grown was for human consumption (sweet corn); it’s all field corn, which is fed to livestock (cattle mostly), and ethanol corn, which is its own variation used purely for fuel. The water consumption required to grow corn is pretty staggering, especially considering the rainfall of the area is less than that of the Texas Hill Country. Satanta gets around 20 inches per year, while the Hill Country receives around 33 inches per year. This is not much rainfall for an area that is farmland as far as the eye can see. And the farmers know it isn’t sustainable.
All the water is pumped from the Ogallala Aquifer, and the water levels are dropping every year, along with the pressure, making it more expensive to pump the water out. All this increases the cost of feed, which increases the cost of store-bought meat, which makes me glad to be a hunter, harvesting most of my own meat! The real issue here is water – the biggest issue our world will deal with this century. Okay, enough on my conservation rant.
In the morning, we awoke to a lovely 18 degrees! After a hardy breakfast, we loaded the dogs and headed to the field for Kansas pheasant hunting. Flatland Pheasants is glad for hunters to bring their own pups if so inclined; we were, so along for the adventure were Robert’s two labs (Lake and Coal) and my English pointer (Gerty). Hunting croplands is interesting; the pheasants go into the field early to feed and retreat into uncut corners of the field when done.
This is where we chase them, and let me tell you: These big birds will move! Generally, the birds will run out the other end and fly to another county, but the dogs did a good job pointing and flushing those that hung around. It makes for fast walking and fast shooting. We did a fine job that day wearing ourselves out after hunting all day.
On Sunday, we hunted all morning again, with a bit less action than the previous morning. There was a bit more warmth in the air, though, which us Texans were very welcoming of! That afternoon, we worked dogs mostly (not quite as mad at the birds as when we arrived), glad to help the pups hone in their abilities.
The most memorable shot of the trip was the very last bird of the trip. Walking back to the trucks, Gerty locked up on point. I walked the area in front of her, but with no action. She wouldn’t move, fully convinced there was a bird buried in the grass. Robert sent Lake in to try and flush it. Lake got birdy real quick, and up came that ole ditch parrot, right at me! I swung, and as the bird made distance, I dropped it on the second shot. Gerty made the retrieve, and Robert and I were all high fives and smiles under a setting sun!
With renewed energy, we departed early Monday; we were proud of our pups and full of Kansas pheasant hunting memories we won’t soon forget. And that’s what it’s all about: Work hard. Play hard. Explore the unknown. Learn something new. Then do it all again! For the Adventure Ahead!
Images from the Kansas Pheasant Hunting Adventure