Traditions stand despite cold weather

Sunday, January 23, 2005

In spite of the cold weather, a hunting tradition continued Saturday. Bill Wilson and Don Barber, Independence, ended the quail season with a short hunt while Bob Masters ended the archery deer season in his familiar deer stand.

Wilson, 68, and Barber, 70, have been hunting quail in Vernon County since they were in high school and although Barber said, "We have slowed down some, it's gotten to be a tradition to end the season in the field with our dogs. This year we only flushed one covey that had about 15 birds and we took two of them to add to the four we shot last week. It felt good just to be out there and we are already looking forward to November."

In the 50 years of quail hunting Wilson pointed out a lot of changes. "When we first started quail hunting, we could just walk fields close to home, but today those fields are covered with homes. There were plenty of birds and it was no trouble getting a limit. However today we consider ourselves lucky if we see more than one covey," he said.

Both men recalled how the quail population has changed from year to year, but they have seen the numbers of birds dwindle in the past few seasons.

"There are still pockets where we find birds, but they seem to be getting fewer and far between," Wilson said.

The cold weather has slowed the veteran hunters. "We didn't stay out very long this year on the last day of the season, but weather wouldn't have slowed us down a few years ago," Wilson said. "We have seen all kinds of weather on the last day over the years including lots of snow and cold as well as some warm and windy days just like the trout anglers see on their opening day March 1."

Meanwhile, Masters ended the archery deer season by hunting from his homemade stand.

"I built a small apartment," Masters joked. "Using some old plywood I decided to try to stay warm and dry while hunting. It has worked for me and I not only see deer, but a lot of other game as well including bobcat, turkey, coyote, rabbits and squirrels. Several times, squirrels have joined me in the stand. I finally decided to take my camera along on most hunts and have taken some good photos of the different game. January 15 was cold and I only saw two small deer, but it felt good just being out there because it will be awhile before the season opens again."

To these hunters, the last day of the season is nearly like the first day in that they want to be hunting their favorite sport. It may be cold, but it's a long time before November and they want to see the season to the end.

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