Article contributed by E. Castillo.
To me, hunting is my therapy. Stepping out onto a golden brown field or walking through some brushy and birdy cover puts me at peace. There is no better place for me to be after a long nine months of working and waiting for the upland bird season opener.
Don’t get me wrong, my wife and daughters are the world to me. My family understands the importance for me to reconnect with the Kansas uplands every year. I have no worries when I am in the field carrying my over-and-under shotgun. The feel of wood and steel along my hands. The weight of my bird vest on my shoulders. The sound of fluttering wings and raucous cackles startle and awaken feelings that have been dormant since the end of the last season. There are so many visual, auditory, and olfactory senses that I am brimming with, when I am in the field.
I am filled with recollections of past bird hunts and of those memories that are about to happen. I give thanks for the opportunity to hunt. I am thankful for all those before me that were able to see the importance of preserving the land. Men and women who had a vision for the future to protect and restore wildlife. Without their voice and fortitude, hunters would not be able partake in what man has done for thousands of years. Hunt. Without the “art” of hunting, none of us would be here. Hunting has been a part of our culture and survival since the beginning of time. I feel honored to be able to pursue my passion. I do not take hunting lightly. My faith guides and helps me understand that a bird that falls by my hand is by the grace of God. I thank Him for His creation and the wonders that I experience in the field.
Watching the sunrise as the frost begins to melt and seep into ground. The rustling of leaves, the whir of wingbeats as a flock of blue wing teal zip by overhead. The ever-so familiar whistle call of Gentleman Bob… “bob-WHITE” or “bob-bob-WHITE,” gives my heart and soul a jolt.
September and October call for fast flying doves, ducks, snipe, and prairie chickens. I love the first day of hunting season. It tells me that more time will be spent at home during the fall and winter months. Moments will be spent away for short and long periods of time pursuing feathered game. Time understood by my wife. By the middle of season, I am loving my opportunity to be hunting as much as I am allowed, which is quite often. A notion that I do not take likely. I make sure to not take away time from my family.
Minus three overnight trips away from home, most of my treks for birds come on my days off. Days when my daughters are in school and my wife is working. I make it a point to return prior to them coming home. Granted, I do this from the start of the season to the end. Sometimes this means driving couple of hours to more than four hours to get into avian pursuits of the upland kind.
By the months of November and December, I’ve had (hopefully if I’m shooting straight) quail and pheasants in my bird vest. It’s also the time again to reflect and give blessings for being able to sample the beauty of the outdoors with friends, dogs, and that ever warm feeling of plump bodies in my game bag.
Come January, feelings of thankfulness are still present, but a new feeling of sadness starts creeping into the air. Sadness in that weeks, maybe only days are left of the season. Each bird taken now, holds a little bit more meaning as the end starts to draw near. That dreaded calendar day, the 31 st signals the end, but only for the time being.
Soon, September will be upon me again and the highs and lows of bird season starts all over again. But, throughout that time, thanks will always be given to God, my wife, my daughters, the birds I hunt, and the dogs and friends that accompany me into the fields. So, during these holidays, be thankful for everything the outdoors provides you. Be content and grateful for the opportunity to hunt and for those loved ones that you leave behind for a time away.
About the Author
Edgar Castillo is a twenty plus year veteran law enforcement officer for a large Kansas City metropolitan agency. Edgar also served in the United States Marine Corps for twelve years. Besides his faith and family, his passion lies in the uplands as he self-documents his travels across public lands throughout Kansas hunting open fields, walking treelines, & bustin’ through plum thickets.
Follow his upland adventures on Instagram @hunt_birdz and Facebook hunt birdz – Gear Reviews, Tips, & Info for the Uplands.