My favorite cedar

In the past I’ve written Kansas has too many cedar. Ten of the mature evergreens sap more water than the average household in Wichita. They offer little to wildlife while collectively choking out hundreds of thousands of acres that could be vital prairie grasses.

Oklahoma has estimated they lose about 5,000 coveys of quail a year to cedar tree encroachment on habitat. Cedars moving into our tall grass prairies have greatly contributed to decreased prairie chicken and quail populations in eastern Kansas.

But I’m certainly a fan of one old cedar south of Pretty Prairie, in rural Reno County.

Last night I shot a turkey while sitting beneath the tree. Each of the last three spring seasons I’ve killed my second bird while at the cedar. It’s taken just the one sit to get each bird.

The tree sits in an old fenceline that separates a brushy pasture near the Ninnescah River from a good friend’s food plot. Turkeys often roost in some towering cottonwoods at the back of the plot.

The sprawling cedar offers a perfect hide from sharp-eyed birds. I’ve trimmed a tunnel in the greenery to get to the massive trunk. Every year a few minutes with saw and clippers opens a few shooting holes.

Inside I have enough room to easily spread an assortment of calls and snacks about. From the outside deer, turkeys, raccoons and coyotes have passed within 10 feet, never knowing I’m near.

The past two springs I’ve called small flocks of longbeards to within about 25 yards when I made the shot. Last night I had a bunch including two big longbeards, two hens and about nine jakes anywhere from five to 50 yards. I took an easy shot at one of the younger, tastier birds to add to a Beast Feast with some friends in late May.

I’m already looking forward to a return to the big cedar next spring.