Reno County – Monday’s weather was all most people fear a November day can be.
A biting north wind stung exposed skin with a mixture of rain, sleet and snow. Quickly soaked, anybody who spent much time outside felt a cold that went to the bone.
But for some of us it was all we could hope a November day could be.
Personally, I thought it a perfect way to start a week of vacation.
Optimism was high as Andy Fanter, Bob Snyder and I spread duck decoys before daylight.
Raised within what’s now the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, Snyder has long said ducks decoy best when they’ve spent a night bobbing on wind-swept waters.
With the grayness of the cloudy dawn came birds that proved Snyder worthy of his “Duckman” nickname.
A dozen or so teal twisted and twirled low over the marsh, dropping into the spread without circling.
Five fell at our shots.
Singles and pairs of more teal, widgeon and gadwall quickly followed.
By about 8 a.m. my partners had limited and I was the lone gunner.
That’s when nine canvasbacks, America’s fastest duck, came zipping by with the gusty north gale at their backs.
Spinning mid-marsh they headed straight for the side of our spread with Fanter’s canvasback decoys.
What a sight.
At least five were drakes, their backs as bright white as the snowflakes that smacked them in the face. Twenty yards out wings flared back and over-sized black webbed feet stretched forward as they dropped into the spread and bobbed amid decoys of themselves.
It was a minute or two of waterfowling that I’ll remember as some of my best for decades to come.
The nice drake I shot was a perfect way to finish my limit.
The rest of the morning was spent watching a flock of whooping cranes in a field of cut corn. I laughed aloud as an 85-pound Lab put a serious scatter on a flock of about 100 wild turkeys.
A day full of cold and wet meant deer would be hungry in the afternoon.
My bowhunt started in a cedar that was blasted by rain as the wind swept across a half-mile of open prairie.
Cold and wet, I moved into the arms of a big elm in the bottom of a grassy draw.
The huge trunk blocked the wind. Big branches on each side of the ladderstand made convient places to hang my bow and backpack.
The stand offered a perfect view of seemingly endless strings of geese fighting the wind as they headed to roost in Quivira.
Unseen turkeys kee-keed and yelped all around me as they gathered before flying to roost in a cottonwood grove.
I was hoping for a crack at one of the many bucks that had the rolling swatch of switchgrass, cedars and wild plum scarred with rubs and scrapes.
At about 4:45 p.m. a mega-sized doe came down the trail and offered me an opportunity I couldn’t resist.
It fell an easy 30 yard drag from a farm road.
The wind that stung my face told me she’d chill well overnight.
Like I said, Monday was the kind of November day many of us hope for.