The opening of this year's quail season was really different. We arrived at the happy hunting grounds west of Blue Mound, Kan. only to find three sets of cattle haulers already stationed where we planned to hunt.
The neighbor had some cattle get out and he had driven down from LaCygne trying to figure out where they were. We knew they were in the vicinity because they had been dining on a couple of our big round bales. The search party consisted of four cowboys, four horses and four cattle dogs as they began their search.
We were walking behind where they had just been with our two dogs. I swear this was the only activity that I had seen in the last five miles, and here we were all stuffed into a half section of land.
On my little 120, there is a bit of a jungle that's been left unattended for some time. It appears to be made up of Japanese honeysuckle and brush and trees covering an acre that the quail love to use as a sanctuary. Even the bird dogs don't like to go through this mess. The herders on the cattle drive figured out that the three head of cattle were hiding in our version of the Bermuda Triangle, and they were having difficulty getting a horse through the mess. These weren't the four horsemen from the Apocalypse or the four horsemen from Notre Dame, but they were doing their best to find the three head of cattle that were enjoying their freedom.
Finally, they pushed all three cows out into a hay meadow, roped one, and while they were doing that, the remaining two went right back into their favorite hideout. It was quite a sight. Six people walking and hunting, two bird dogs, four horses, four cattle dogs and the owner on a four-wheeler. None of us were being very productive.
We went across the road and found another covey of quail, but meanwhile my old dog had disappeared. We spent the better part of an hour trying to figure out where he was. As we were preparing to go to lunch, the cowboys were gathered up on the edge of a meadow and here came the old dog still hunting. The only problem was there were no hunters to support him.
We raised a question with the owner and the cowboys, "Is there such a thing as feral cattle?" Do they grow long hair and grow tusks because from what we'd seen in the morning, they might be a while getting them out of the thicket?
All of this made for a lively conversation as we chowed down at the Feedlot Café. For all of us, it was like a trip back in time and it was a good one.