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Walk-in and Hunt Kansas Turkey - Open Fields legislation
The first rays of light cracked the darkness on the eastern horizon, not far from Parsons, Kansas. Kevin Messmer, a representative for Chevy, and I sat with shotguns across our knees, listening with rapt attention to a clamor and assortment of gobbles, unlike anything I’d heard before.
We were sitting within 200 yards of what had to be the Grand Central Station of Kansas turkey roosts, and I was confident that as the birds flew down, we’d be in the perfect position to defend ourselves, for surely dozens of long-bearded Toms would try to walk right over us.
The birds went mute as the sky brightened and they flew to the ground-nothing, nada, zero, zilch, not even the plaintiff yelp of a wayward hen. As is all too often the case, the best laid plans of mice and men and turkey hunters had gone astray.
We were hunting a combination of private and public land surrounding and including the 1200-acre Big Hill Wildlife Area managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. The entire area was made up of picture perfect habitat with rolling hills, hardwood woodlots, thick brushy swamplands and open pastures.
As the morning wore on, we decided to try running and gunning, convinced we’d find birds. An hour later, making our way up a hardwood slope, we were surprised by a group of hens with a big Tom in tow. With little time to think, we dropped to our knees, brought our guns up and tag teamed a big Eastern gobbler. I still had a tag and Kevin two, so we resumed our hunt until a wicked spring storm put an end to the day.
By 10 a.m. the following morning, we’d not heard or seen a single bird and decided on a "sneak, pussyfoot and gun" strategy. Approaching a spot near a likely travel route, we decided to stop, set-up and call. No sooner had we plopped down I caught a glimpse of a red in the brush below me. With elbows propped against our knees and guns in position, we watched as a group of Jakes came to the softest of calls. I singled one out, put the shotgun’s bead on his head and waited for Kevin to shoot. The shot never came, and I realized Kevin was out of position. The birds knew something wasn’t right and were headed out, so it was now or never. I pulled the trigger and watched the bird fall, flap wildly for a second or two and go still, just the way it’s supposed to happen.
If you want to go:
- Eastern Kansas has lots of birds and you can buy non-resident licenses (hunting $72.50 and turkey tags $32.50 each) via the Net at http://www.kdwp.state.ks.us/.You can shoot two gobblers during the season.
- Shotgun season for Kansas gobblers begins in early April and runs through May 31st. Check http://www.kdwp.state.ks.us/ for exact seasons and dates.
- Bring the standard equipment: camo gear, various calls, decoys, binoculars and tick repellant. I like a 12 gauge loaded with 3 in. number 5’s or 6’s. I usually put a 6 in the chamber and back it up with a couple of 5’s. Bring along rain gear and a daypack as well.
DID YOU KNOW…There are 21 states that have walk-in access programs. The TRCP was instrumental in securing new, federal funding that would help states grow these or new programs through the passage of Open Fields legislation in the last Farm Bill. Implementation of this new law has been slow going however. The administration has not yet released the rules and regulations needed to begin distributing these funds to the states. To learn more about the TRCP’s work on this issue, click here.