Gone Hunting 10-11-10
October 8, 2010
The pheasant seasons opened this weekend in Montana and North Dakota. Next week South Dakota and Iowa are followed by Nebraska and then Kansas in November.
I’m generally asked four or five times a week, “Where do you hunt?”
Hunters and fishermen never divulge their honey holes – it has taken them much too much time to acquire hunting or fishing privileges, and they’re not about to share them.
I’ve sent dozens of hunters to Medicine Lodge, Kan., through the years. Pheasant hunters will starve to death there before they run across a pheasant. The really good things to come out of the Medicine Lodge area are the treaty with the Comanche Native Americans and Martina McBride of country music fame.
Hunting anything, anywhere is by invitation only, and you must take a blood oath not to return with anyone else and also to forget where you’ve been. However, with old age and retirement having weakened me, I’m going to share with you the Mecca for upland bird hunting in the entire United States – “Highway 83.”
From Manitoba, Canada, all the way to Laredo, Texas, more upland game birds fly across “83” than the total number of promises you’ve heard during this election season.
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Winner, S.D., claims to be the pheasant hunting capital of the world – it’s just a little east of “83.”
Valentine, Neb., is about an hour southwest of Winner. I’ve taken many grouse around Valentine thanks to Glenn Clasen. I visited with Glenn at the Comfort Inn where he works. We also had a nice visit after Mass at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Platteville, Colo. Glenn directed us right to some of our best grouse hunting.
If you decide to grouse hunt there and stay at the Comfort Inn, tell the manager, Anne Clark, that I sent you. She takes good care of us.
Further south on “83” is North Platte, Neb. Just northeast of North Platte is Broken Bow where you’ll find a combination of pheasants and grouse. Hunt the irrigation pivots.
Continuing south to McCook, Neb., again right on “83,” you may be in the best pheasant hunting part of the Cornhusker state. We visited St. Catherine Catholic Church near there in Indianola, Neb. Many, many corn pivots to hunt around there. At times, the bobwhite quail get in the way of my pheasant hunting.
About 60 miles south of McCook, just a bit off “83” is Leoville, Kan., and the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. We’ve been to a wedding and Mass there a few times. All you’ll find there is the church and about four other buildings, but Leoville is surrounded by some really good dry-land upland bird hunting.
Oakley, Kan., is at the intersection of Interstate 70 and ’83.’ St. Joseph Catholic Church is a good place to take a break on your way to hunt quail, prairie chickens and turkey in the Flint Hills.
Forty five miles south of Oakley, you’ll run through Scott City, Kan. Scott is the home of another St. Joe’s, but it is also home to several feed yards. Feed yards mean row crops; corn and milo, miles and miles of row crops. Row crops are also great feed and cover for upland birds.
Another 35 miles south on “83,” you will be at our home away from home, Garden City, Kan. I’ve run into St. Dominic in my hunting clothes just as the priest was starting the mass.
Liberal, Kan., is almost to the Oklahoma border. Liberal boasts a beautiful St. Anthony’s parish along with Dorothy’s home at 567 Yellow Brick Road. The pheasant hunting is best out toward Meade where you can also visit the Dalton Gang’s hideout. I could barely squeeze through the getaway tunnel.
Once you hit the panhandle of Oklahoma and then Texas, you’re better off hunting quail. I’ve heard that South Texas is home to the nation’s best quail populations this year.
I have come to one conclusion after visiting all of these wonderful communities over the past three to four decades – the ladies must be better shots than the guys! The vocalists in every one of those churches has been a female; the guys are still out hunting trying to fill their bag limits.
And for those of you who are wondering – yes, I did neglect to mention my favorite churches along Highway 83.