Anne Mauro recently attended the Kansas Governor’s Ringneck Classic where she hunted. In this guest post, she describes her view as a blocker on this lovely pheasant hunt.
It was a spectacular weekend for the 2015 Kansas Governor’s Ringneck Classic, hosted in Goodland, Kan. Goodland is one of the areas known as “The Pheasant Capital of the World” and Kansas is one of the top 3 states in the nation where pheasants are harvested. An invite from Gov. Samuel Brownback brought together many distinguished guests from around the country to support this year’s event.
The first day, a friendly tournament of clay target shooting in Wobble 5-Stand and Skeet was offered to test your skills and get you turned up for the next day’s hunt. Both events were excellent for pheasant hunting practice. The Wobble 5-Stand mimicked those fast-flushing pheasants and Skeet imitates the various flights a pheasant may take from flushing, and from crossing to driven.
On hunt day, the blue skies and crisp chill in the air was ideal. Many of the local landowners offered their properties for groups to hunt. Our experienced guides lead us with their eager-to-point-and-flush highly trained dogs. I knew a successful hunt was in store.
The role of blocker
I had been a walker many times, but it was not until I asked to take the role as a blocker that I truly saw the beauty of the hunt from a different view. I love to experience new roles and different views, so I was eager. A blocker closes up the escape route of pheasants as dogs and walkers (hunters) push forward and close in the line. My guide said at times this can be the best role, as pheasant tend to run forward and will flush at the end, so be ready. Ready I was … but not for what I experienced visually.
We dropped the hunters off and headed to our blocking posts on the other end of the vast rolling field of various grasses blowing in the breeze. I anxiously awaited the hunters to break over the hill. I could hear shots but saw nothing. I wondered if I was missing out on a great walk, even though I had successfully bagged pheasants on my first walk that morning.
I was excited at the possibility of pheasants being driven at me and felt prepared to take any escapees. So I patiently waited and wondered as I kept gazing over the field.
Then I saw the landscape change direction vastly – very different from the gentle tips that were blowing in the breeze. The dogs had arrived.
I could start to see the dogs were working the field. I keep watching and finally saw hints of blaze orange from the hunters’ hats break over the rise. Then it hit me … visually, I had the best seat in the house of what seemed like a well-choreographed stage production – but it was a live hunt instead.
I watched in total awe the beauty of a hunt from a different view. Hunters marched with their shotgun barrels pointed toward the sky ready for the telltale signals from the dogs they were on the scent of a pheasant. The dogs worked hard for the birds as they leapt through the grasses with beauty and grace. As signals came from the dogs, the hunters pressed forward. Pheasants flushed and were successfully taken all before my eyes. I had a view like no other watching this take place as they kept moving toward me.
I was ready for action, but it was meant for another time. After all, I am a blocker.
Old friendships were renewed, new friendships were made and wonderful memories that will last a lifetime achieved at this very special hunt. I am thankful to have experienced all and saw the true beauty of the hunt from a different view.