Winter Travel While Quail and Pheasant Hunting
Late season hunting conditions.
We adopted a policy that we have practiced since long ago never to inflate what reasonable expectations are about our hunt quality. That policy is put into practice by illustrating the benefits and consequences to as many facets as we can about our hunts. Late season hunts do have adverse weather effects the most significant of which that affects the hunter is road conditions.
Pictured above and below are the best and worst road conditions to expect during a late season trip. These pictures are from January 14. The road above, a gravel road, is easily trafficable during any portion of the winter. The one below, a low maintenance county dirt road, is trafficable when frozen or dry.
A county dirt road truly is dirt alone. That makes for mud when the snow melts or rainfall occurs. With low annual precipitation these roads are mostly dry throughout the year. However, it takes only a 1/4 inch of rain to make this road un-trafficable. If that melting snow/ice or rainfall occurs during any one hunt trip it will require the hunter to locate on our issued maps the gravel roads to access our lease land. In most cases mud road conditions will require extra miles to travel around. In the worst case of some of our more remote areas such roads when wet will prohibit easy access to our land.
During conditions of freezing night temperatures with daily warm-ups above freezing many dirt/mud roads will be easily trafficable until mid-morning. Or, as late as early afternoon. Once the sun warms them above freezing they continue to degrade until they become impassible. They become greasy thin mud surface on top of the deeper frozen soil. Combined makes any four-wheel truck sit and spin the wheels.
The snow covered road conditions shown in the picture above are easily trafficable. The only conditions to be remain cognizant of would be drifting.
The bottom line is that winter road conditions will not stop a hunt. They may cause increased walking as parking spots may not be ideally located near the better habitat areas. Trailers should be left at the motel or not brought at all.
Winter does bring sore pads as the little lady at left sows well.
Sore pads are not limited to frozen ground conditions. There is a lot of room to run on these hunts. Dogs that do not have their pads conditioned may find by the third day they do not want to run hard. Any dog that requires its toenails to be trimmed is likely to require boots during a hunt.
Late Season Hunt Showing Snow In The Field
A milo field any time during the season with any kind of cover along its edge or cutting through it is a must hunt spot.
Early season milo has far more leaf cover spanning the gaps between the stubble rows making for much better cover than the late, January, stubble picture seen here.
Early season milo stubble hunts frequently find the covey to occupy such fields during the entire day as evidence by roost piles and covey points well into the field. Late milo field hunts are more productive along more stout winter cover found on fence lines and field drainage's.
A very tight holding singles point well after the initial covey flush. Using such pictures is the best proof we have for what we say as dogs do not lie when they point.
The physical difference between early and late season milo field hunts is that early season the milo leaf would probably have covered this dog. The opening he is in within this picture is the combine wheel track that knocked down stalks. Looking at the space between the rows immediately to the dog's front it shows well how that gap is covered by milo leaf. This late season picture shows even with most of the milo leaf down there is still plenty of protective point holding cover.
The focus on milo stubble for is not intended to lessen the more valued cover of the in-field drainage. Or to ignore soybean and corn fields.
An up close singles point from an earlier covey point. An in-field drainage cutting through a crop stubble field. Patches of grass mixed in with weeds and woody cover both tree and brush is as good as it gets for late season cover. While not a stylish point. His nonchalant attitude extends throughout his field work of slow close work.
Milo stubble does have consequences.
Milo stubble will hold pheasant to include through late season.
Milo fields being a dryer land crop than that of corn or soybean will be more frequently found in Kansas quail hunting regions than Missouri or Iowa. Milo survives with lower annual precipitation than required of corn and soybean. The consequence of milo field hunts are that most of the best Bobwhite regions overlap that with pheasant. That is the way it is. Both have a preference for milo.
A side note on snow ground accumulation is well represented in this picture series of what is normal. It is rare to have snow above ankle deep or on the ground longer than a two week stretch before thawing. Snow by itself does not stop our winter hunts. Drifting snow may be a problem until roads are cleared. The weather effect that most affects hunt quality remains wind. It would be reasonable to expect that during any four to five day hunt to have a day where the wind speed degraded scent cone viability to the degree of preventing good point standoff.
Work less, play more, we will all be dead soon enough.