On this episode of Sweet Point’s Setter Tales we take on the goliath of CRP fields with Major League Bowhunters Matt Duff and Zach Kurzejeski. Joined by Triple Creek Outfitters Owner, Richard Blakeslee, and guide Darren Greene. Our special thanks to Triple Creek Outfitters for the warm Kansas welcome and letting us experience some of the best upland hunting Kansas has to offer. I’m Wade Kisner and I grew up hunting upland birds. Nothing’s better than chasing a couple English Setters called Sweet Lou and Adeline. Lou is a Master Hunter and Adeline is quickly learning the trade. These are some of our tales… Well, yesterday the weather was lousy but today the conditions seemed perfect for a late January bird hunt. With the Setters fired up and ready to hit the ground, we followed Richard, Matt, Zach, and guide Darren Greene to a 640-acre chunk of CRP a short distance outside of St. John, Kansas. You know, in our part of the country we don’t see CRP fields that big.
No, and when you see it in person… man it’s… He was telling us it’s a section of ground 640 acres a mile, by mile, by mile, by mile… You know my big thought was, ‘how do you how do you hunt it?’ I mean we had what, eight or nine dogs? And we had eight hunters… but still, we were dwarfs when we were out there kind of walking in that thing. Well, even spread out a little further than we normally walk you still couldn’t cover half of it. Yeah, and you had like, you know, you kept… Couldn’t help but think he had gaps in your line where maybe you were missing some birds, but the dogs were doing a nice job working back and forth in front of the line… but the field was enormous and for me making one pass across and a pass back… You know, was two miles and so it didn’t take long for my old legs to kind of burn up, but uh… I was okay.
Yeah, you were okay. You and Tyler were okay. But the strategy was, according to Richard, was you start at one end of this big field and you kind of start Pushing them.
Make them push back and forth across this field… and you hope that you’re slowly moving the birds up into that far end of the field and when you get down there… if you got anything left, when you get down there, that you’ve pinched the birds kinda and you’ve– into a… Funnel, so to speak.
Yeah more of a concentrated kind of a group and you get to get more birds in gun range and That proved out to be the fact.
Yeah. So this morning guys we’re going to take off we’ve got… good north winds, so we’re gonna walk into the north. There’s a covey of quail down by the trees on the north end of this That’s… wasn’t a big covey to begin with, so we need to let it go… not… not shoot at them. We have– there’s a lot of pheasants in here. I just went around and picked up— We left a truck at the other end to come back around and we saw, what, 20? 20-some roosters out there on the cornfield already. So we need to get going.
Alright, well, we appreciate it We’re looking forward to it. Get Matt out there… We gonna go hunting or what? I’m just kidding.
We’re gonna go give it a try here. Late season hunts can be a challenge due to the fact that these wild birds have had a lot of hunting pressure for three months and have learned to evade not only normal predators, but man and his dogs. For this old guy the walking was not bad as the little blue-stem grass was at times waste high and open. The plan was to make passes back and forth across the field working towards the west edge and corner a mile away. Each pass would be a mile of wear and tear on legs and feet. The field was loaded with pheasants that seemed to flush out in groups of 20 to 30 at a time, but most were well out of gun range. By the time we got to the west end to start the final push we had watched hundreds of pheasants take to wing.
At least 50 to 60 birds. I don’t know how many roosters were mixed in there but there’s a lot of birds just got up. It was getting way up ahead of us?
Yeah, they’re just too far out of gun range… dogs ain’t pointing so… best keep going. Now and then we would catch a straggler and our group managed to bag a couple roosters during the first couple passes. Find em’. Find em’, Hank! TC, Dead! Hunt, dead! Hunt, dead! Right here, he’s blocking… Come here, Hank! Come here, Hank! Come here! Dead up here! Hank! Dead up here! Dead, hunt dead… Hunt dead… hunt dead… Good boy, TC! Good boy! Get down. We got one, Zach! We finally got us one over here. Richard got a bird. We had finally got a rooster locked down. We’ve had tons of birds, just real ‘flighty’ today, but we had a good point over here with the dogs… with a hen. It just happened to be a hen, you know? Just like Richard had predicted, as we walked across the field the shooting opportunities did increase. Rooster! Rooster! Dead rooster! Dead, dog. Dead bird! When this rooster got up I almost dropped my shotgun at the same time, he almost dropped his camera! Really?
Yeah! Stop it.
Stop it! I had a hen get up. That roosters up ahead and he’s looking at that line. He’s gotta figure out, ‘Okay, where’s the weak link in that line?’ That’s right. That’s right. Hen! Hen! Hen! Getting some action here in central Kansas. I don’t know how many we picked up this… this pass, but we’ve been making passes back and forth. These wild birds are just real ‘flighty’ and uh… They’ve been getting up out in front of us. We’re kind of pinching them down. We’ve gotten pretty good bit of points this last pass, so dogs are working good, which is cool to see, man. See this many wild birds and one morning? Can’t beat it! I seen the bird rock and it went about… maybe a hundred yards and lit again. I told Tyler it went down in front of us and we got up there and dog was on point… Tyler walked up next to the dog. I said, ‘No, step right over in front of the dog.’ He walked over there…
Looks like he’s staring right at it, and by God, he was! It was right there! So I kicked him, and he kind of did a half… Tried to fly.
Yeah… He started running and… the dogs were chasing him and all of a sudden, here comes Darren like Carl Lewis! 40-yard dash after that son-of-a-gun… Lays out!
Superman dives… and belly flops and grabs the pheasant! So, based on what we saw earlier I guess they hunt birds a little different in Kansas. They like to jump on them, where we just shoot them. So… We like the wing them and then, you know, the human element comes in, you know… The thrill of the chase, I guess.
We don’t like to waste any shotgun shells. Hey, anything I can do to entertain you guys, I’m here for you. Gaps in the line of shooters created avenues of escape for some birds while others went into stealth mode hoping to avoid the dogs. Hen! Rooster! Bring it in! Bring it in! Don’t let it get away! Good girl! Good girl! My bird! Good shot! As we pinched the birds each step teased us with the possibility of the next rooster. Thank you!
You bet ya. Good shot! Kansas rooster! Suddenly to my left, Darrin knocks down a rooster… and the dogs all went for the retrieve. Dead! Dead. Dead bird! Well, finally got one knocked down. That guy was going, I was really leading the heck out of that one. Taking my first Kansas rooster was something I had on the old bucket list for 63 years… and doing it with this group of guys will always be a great memory. We got a couple over there. The old man got one earlier. That one we just knocked down. Starting to pick up. We got the blockers up there. We’re kind of pinching the birds, finally. Starting to see a little more action… It took a while. It was a big field, but we’re finally getting up here where we’re starting to see some numbers. They’re starting to hold a little tighter, so we’re getting some shots on them. We basically would get a couple of Setters out and we would kind of put them out with–
Mix them with the…
GSPs and mix them… and then switch dogs and we made a pass over and back, we’d switch dogs, but it kind of came Darby’s turn and I think we had her and Duchess… so we had the litter mates out and you know, at the time they were still pretty young. And there’s lots of chaos and there’s dogs everywhere and shooting going on and so for these young dogs It’s a lot to take in and as we got about halfway across the field on that one pass I remembered our be just like locking up like stone.
Right in front of Duff, I think. Yeah!
He yelled over, ‘Hey, your dog’s on point!’ That was pretty cool. You happened to be right there and Duff was right there and as fate would have it the drone is right above us at the same time. So, I think we got it on film like at three different ways Above and do two ways on the side… But it was pretty. It was pretty neat. It turned out to be a hen.
Unfortunately it was a hen, but… it was still pretty cool to see. Was still one of those milestones that you really love to have on film of… Darby making her first point on wild Kansas pheasant. And so, that’ll be one that we remember for a long, long time.
Absolutely! You know we forgot about Richard telling us that a covey of quail sometimes could be found in this field. I remembered Darren’s GSP going on point and he walks in to flush what we expected to be a pheasant and this covey of quail blows out! Those little boogers are smoking fast! Quail! Quail! The covey’s jailbreak was in at least three different waves; heading in all directions chased by patterns was shot from all of our guns. As the action would reach a lull, another group of birds would make a break for it. Got zero! I drew feathers on one, I think I might have hit a truck. Having spent my early youth in prime, Missouri quail country it had been a long time since I’d walked into a covey of birds at large. During the initial covey rise, Darren had turned and made an impressive shot! Dropping a bird behind us in some heavy cover. As our gun barrels cooled, much to our disappointment: Darren’s single was the only bird taken. Even though it was just a single quail I was taught that birds are a precious resource and it’s important to take all the time necessary to locate and recover shot game. It was not a surprise that these guys honored the same upland code. Let’s see the guy. Little guy.
Yup, little guy. Honestly, late season January… Birds that have been pressured. That’s a good hunt this morning. We saw… gosh… we saw a lot of birds this morning I don’t know how many we saw, but we saw a gob of birds this morning! Boy, that was one big, huge, covey of quail. That’s the biggest covey of quail I have seen in a long time! He’s fixed up about the covey of quails we missed. It was huge and they were fast!
I know! By the time they got to us…
They were in a jet stream!
Mach speed! About the time some went behind us, we turned on those and then they started coming right over the top of me and then you were blasting away… Oh my gosh… it was a… Yeah, didn’t cut a feather… but I did get a rooster! So, it took me 63 years, but I got a Kansas rooster… After a quick lunch, we traveled to another large field of CRP to finish out the day. It was going to be hard to beat the morning action. With two days left it’s hard to believe that the hunting could get much better, but check out episode 3 hunting with Triple Creek Outfitters near St. John, Kansas. Sweet Point’s Setter Tales is brought to you with support from our sponsors. Hi, I’m Wade Kisner with Sweet Point’s Setter Tales. Do you have an interesting story idea for a future episode? We’d love to hear about it. Drop us a line at SweetPointSetters.com