Oil exploration crews = paradise lost

Stakes with flittering bright ribbon shows oil exploration crew are working an area, often hard enough to push wildlife to other places.

Literally hundreds of times I’ve told people it is my favorite quarter-section in Kansas. Thanks to the landowner’s preference for wildlife over cash crops, the 160 acres usually held more wildlife than a good parcel of 1,000 acres or more.

Bordering the  Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, the land was a magical mixture of food plots, farm fields, native grasses, dense thickets and a fine waterfowl pond. One December afternoon I sat in an elevated shooting house and counted, at one tim,  40 deer, 137 wild turkeys, 11 rooster pheasants and a combined 500 ducks and geese…all on that one piece of land.

Saturday morning I walked much of the property and deer tracks were rare enough to make me notice. Last year and the nine before they dug deep enough into the sandy soil to look like a popular national forest hiking trail. Most years so many saplings have been rubbed by bucks the place looks like it had  been through a tornado. I found just one rub, and two scrapes, and the latter usually pock the landscape like dimples on a golf ball.

Instead there were bright stakes planted in the ground and scores or orange tapes blowing in the wind. Tracks made by the oil exploration crew criss-crossed the food plots and the stands of tall, native grass.

Folks who’ve been through such explorations say the crews will be there at least another month, with coincides with about the time I’m done with my beloved November time from work.

It’s disappointing. It’s frustrating…but technically I have no reason to be angry. Many I’ve talked to who have also lost prime wildlife areas to similar crews this fall aren’t so open-minded.

Well, it’s not my property. It’s owned by a very good friend who has been extremely generous to allow me to be one of the very few allowed to access the land. If I lost access today I’d still owe him very sincere thanks for some of the finest outdoors experiences of my life.

I’ll be honest and say part of me hopes they don’t find oil there, but that’s not fair to my host. He’s invested a lot of time and money to places I’ve enjoyed for many years at the cost of nothing but my thanks and friendship. He deserves some pay-back from the land.

Of course if they don’t find oil, the stakes, ribbons and small army of workers will eventually be gone and the wildlife will probably quickly return. If crude is found, the wells and assorted equipment probably won’t cover but a fraction of the property.

Time will tell, and all I can do is wait patiently and appreciatively.