View from the hill

I have always loved the fall season. With it comes the shortening days and longer nights and trees turning various shades of red, yellow and orange. Well, the trees are mostly turning shades of brown and yellow this year. But you get the idea.

This time of year also brings people to my farm who love the sport of hunting wild game.

These people are a special group in many ways. They reflect desirable character traits that I admire. They are hardworking, honest and decent folk.

They hunt not just to “bag the big one” or to get their limit of gamebirds, but they enjoy the outdoors, being on the land with all the wonders of nature available for their enjoyment.

Out in the woods and grasslands, they can stare at the stars in the early morning long before the sun brightens the sky. They listen to the sounds of the woods in the misty fog as a herd of deer makes their way through the trees. They can hear the turkeys and pheasants long before the birds are ever seen by the naked eye.

The hunters often share these unforgettable experiences with their own children, friends or relatives. And judging from their responses, that is one of the best things about the hunt.

What I really like is when some hunters come back months later and provide me with a couple week’s supply of summer sausage to satisfy my craving of the spicy meat. So I don’t just ask, “How many in your party this year?” I then query, “How successful was your last hunt?”

They readily respond by recounting their experiences and sharing some of their bounty. Sometimes they even beat me to the punch and show up on my doorstep with a cooler and I readily accept their offerings.

It is not so much a payment as an expression of their appreciation for having access to land so they can pursue the sport they enjoy.

But in all of this, I have rarely observed in any newspaper an expression of public appreciation for special things a group like these people do. So my desire is to give public acknowledgment to them, and I will specifically address them with these statements:

n Mike Sowell, Wichita, deer (bow) & turkey;

n Walt Jost, Olathe, deer (rifle) and pheasant;

n Harry Willems, Iola, pheasant;

n Jarvis Seaman, Wichita; pheasant;

n Glenn Litke, Hillsboro, deer (bow and rifle);

…Plus members in your hunting parties.

I have known most of you for many years, those who have hunted in the past and those who currently hunt on my land.

Thank you for respecting the rights of the landowner and for asking permission to enter and use our land.

Thank you for recognizing the laws of our country and for obeying them while you pursue your adventure. You could have ignored those laws, but you chose to do the right thing.

Thank you for being good stewards of our land while on the hunt. You left the land as you found it. When it was muddy, you kept the vehicles out of the fields and walked in, which is a time-consuming process of getting in and out of the hunting site, not to mention the many tired and aching muscles afterwards. And you left no garbage or waste behind.

Thank you for building and maintaining a good relationship with me. I appreciate those phone calls, e-mails and evening visits prior to the opening day. It shows you care enough to do what is right.

May you all have an enjoyable and prosperous hunting season. Salutations!

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