Tuesday, April 21, 2015

West vs East

I was invited on a turkey hunt / business trip last week by a colleague.  I had not ever hunted Easterns, only our "dumb Merriams", as the joke went,  and the Osceolas of Florida, so I gladly accepted. It was a good trip, although I did not bag a big Kansas bird. We heard a few, saw a couple, but had more bad luck than good.  The first bird was run off by coyotes at dawn, the second gobbler was shot by another hunter on public land just across the fence and the final Tom, just didn't need our fake hens more than his real ones.  That is turkey hunting.

Hunting on the Kansas/Missouri border was new and interesting.  I left with a reminder on how things differ out West.  In Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, we measure everything in miles. Sections.  Hours of walking.  The farther you trek east, the smaller things get.  Hunting properties are 80 acres.  Maybe 160.  640 acres is huge. Often a complete farm to some.  Fences and roads seem to stretch every direction.   All of the private lands open to hunting were littered with deer feeders, growth supplements and game cameras.  Deer are king, turkeys and waterfowl are a close second.  Every conversation with other hunters resulted in a discussion about racks and the eventual cell-phone displays of big bucks that are on the short list for next fall.

Nothing against how others hunt.  Or where they hunt.  I am just grateful for all of the open space and variety we have in the West.  There are many places in Montana where I could walk in a straight line, all day, hunting on public land.  Our seasons are over four months long and involve numerous species of big game, along with another seven species of upland game birds.

I also tried the grits (nothing to brag about), sweet tea flowed everywhere (not too bad) and the humidity was miserable for April.  It was a good trip overall, but I was glad to be back in Montana, where I can chase our "dumb" turkeys again.