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A Ducks Unlimited Pheasant Hunt

As a boy growing up in North Central Kansas, I loved when the weather started to get cold.  It signaled pheasant hunting was soon to be here.  I looked forward to long walks through CRP and milo stalks, waiting for the dog to go on point and see that beautiful bird fly into the air.

Then having to make a series of quick decisions: is it a rooster or hen?  Has it cleared the other hunters?  Is it in my shooting lane?

Then squeezing the trigger and seeing the bird go down.  Watching my dog bound through the snow, making a perfect retrieve.  That is what I love about pheasant hunting.

What could make a pheasant hunt even better?

How about a pheasant hunt in North Central Kansas with Quail Quest Hunting, joined by a group of Ducks Unlimited friends and having the opportunity to invite a member of the military to join us.

Yes, that would make it even better.

Jason Seehafer runs Quail Quest Hunting.  It is located two miles west of the small town of Hunter, Kansas.  Which is about an hour, as the crow flies, northwest of Salina, Kansas.

From the outside, the lodge looks like a typical tin shed that houses tractors and farm equipment, much like what hunters see as they drive through the rolling hills of the Kansas Prairie.  But when you kick your boots off and step inside, you are transformed into an amazing back woods hunting camp.

The main focal point of the room is the beautiful stone fireplace that runs from the floor to the ceiling. Then from the high wood covered ceiling, you notice the deer antlered lights hanging down.  Wood trim surrounds the room making it feel like a log cabin on the prairies.

Large racked whitetail and mule deer are displayed on the walls.  An amazingly lifelike fox stands tall over the room with a covey of bobwhite quail busting cover next to it.  Mounted ornamental pheasant, with their beautiful colors and long tails, line the fireplace mantel.

The floor is made from ceramic stone tile that is heated by a warm-water system that runs under it.  You can feel the warmness of the floor seeping up your socks and flowing into the rest of your body; a delightful transition from the 20 degree snowy weather.

The ambiance of the lodge provokes a smile and heightens the anticipation of the next days hunt.

Since it is a controlled shooting area, there are no limits on birds.  It is basically how many you want to buy.  We bought 10 birds per person.  That gave us 120 total birds.  These birds are planted in various areas the morning of the hunt.

This was the first time I had ever had the chance to participate in a planted bird hunt.  I had heard rumors of hunts like this where birds didn’t want to fly.  That it was too easy and not much sport.  Well let me tell you, I was amazed at how wild our tamed birds were.  It seemed to me the only difference from a wild bird hunt was the birds didn’t fly out of the field when you shut your truck door.  The birds actually held to cover and allowed the dogs to flush them.

The idea of this hunt began last summer when the chairman of the South Johnson County Ducks Unlimited, Gary Mellard, asked if I would be interested in putting together a group pheasant hunt.  Our DU chapter holds a couple of events a year in order to raise money for conservation.  We work hard on these events, and they are successful.  This hard work has made our chapter one of the best in the country.

This hard work, however, doesn’t allow the committee members to spend a lot of free time with each other.  Many of the members only see each other during the banquet or at the few prior meetings before hand.  A group pheasant hunt would be a good bonding experience.

Eventually I was able to convince 11 hunters into going.  Eight of the hunters were from the South Johnson County committee and Darren Griffith is from the Black Jack Chapter in Baldwin City. Major Greg Hirschey and a neighbor of one of the committee members also joined us.

Major Hirschey is a cousin of Darren Griffith.  He is stationed at Fort Riley, which is on the way to the hunting lodge.  So we were delighted when Darren asked if he could join us.  We were more than happy to have the opportunity to hunt with a man like Major Hirschey, who fights for our right to be free and the right to own guns.

The Major is from the mountains of Montana and is a skilled hunter and fisherman.  He had some amazing stories of high altitude hunts for elk and deer.  It was a pleasure sitting around the fire listening to him talk about his hunting expeditions into the mountains of Montana.

Major Hirschey also made us aware that there are military men and military families who are in need.  Men and families who are having trouble dealing with civilian life after returning home from war.  Families who are in debt and don’t have the money to pay bills or have trouble feeding their children.

He said that if anybody that didn’t want their birds we shot he would find families who would take them.  Of course, we all donated birds.  It was a little thing that we could do to help those that protect America and fight to keep us free.

It was an honor to hunt with a man who goes in harms way to make sure our freedom is not compromised.  It was an honor to shake his hand and say thanks for all you do.  Thanks for keeping us safe.  Thanks Major.

As our weekend at Quail Quest came to a close, all of us realized that the memories we created would be reminisced for years to come.  This bonding experience would bring the members of our chapter closer together and help to remind us of how lucky we are to be Americans.  It helped us realize how much is sacrificed by great men and women like Major Hirschey to defend our country and to keep us free.

And without hesitation we will tell all hunters who want a stellar-guided Kansas pheasant hunt to look up Jason at Quail Quest Hunting.  You won’t be disappointed.

About Travis Perret