Okay, so I’m sure you’re only here because the title of the post has you all excited to hear about feces, right? Well, I promise I will not let you down, BUT FIRST! Can we focus on the Sandhill Cranes?! This is a hunting blog after all!(And if you missed my introduction into the fowl life, you can click here.)
We were prepping for the hunt, and my fantastic hay dealer (which is like a drug dealer for horses, only way more expensive) said I could hunt on his property. Well, he lives out on the reservation, which is fine according to the laws of the fowl life, as long as it’s on deeded land. So I clearly had to do some investigations of the property before hunting to make sure it was all kosher. So I went out the day before the hunt for a tour of the farm.
Now if you have never taken your drug dealer for a tour of their farm, in your little ’92 pick’em up truck, on a sunny afternoon, I highly suggest you do it. Definitely one of the highlights of my week. Drug dealers are very proud of their property, and they have lots of fun stories to share.
Anyways, he showed me the perimeter, as well as some of the property that he used to lease, that is now “a barren wasteland” since he quit farming it. He showed me where my horses’ hay comes from, which was oddly satisfying. He told me where the cranes are usually chillin’, and suggested a few places for me to go on my initial stake-out. THEN, there they were! Two lone cranes (most likely husband and wife) were out in his field, and they flew away all nonchalantly as we drove past. I was suddenly super excited for the weekend’s hunt.
The next morning, Jared and I got up at o’dark thirty to head out to the farm. Seriously, I was up earlier to go after a bird than I had been getting up to go elk hunting, which makes absolutely no sense to me, and yet, there we were. Luckily, Jared was bright eyed and bushy tailed, and he drove us out there so that my impending narcoleptic episode wouldn’t cause us to wreck.
We got to the farm, and I showed him where the cranes had been the day before. We decided that our best bet was to go lay out in the middle of the field, like they do in the movies, and hope that some cranes fly over us. We get the shotgun loaded, 18 layers of clothes on, and make ourselves minimally noticeable among the crop remains in the field. Mmmm… snuggly. We tested our camo on some crows that flew by. They spotted us immediately. Not a good sign.
So there we are, freezing our butts off, in the middle of this field, giggling like little school girls. I don’t know how long went by, but it felt like ages, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I jumped up and started running for the truck. I bailed in (after unloading the shotgun and leaving it outside the vehicle, per Mr. Hunter Safety’s instructions), and we blasted the heater until we regained feeling to our limbs.
Of course, if you know me at all, you know that we needed snacks. Snacks are the single most important part of any hunting trip or stake-out, next to toilet paper, as I later found out. We look in the snack box. No snacks. This was a really bad time to remember that the snack box had been at elk camp… and I also had been at elk camp… so of course it was empty. We found two lonely bags of dry Ramen noodles and crunched at them to our hearts’ content. Or, at least, until the salt intake increased our blood pressure to alarming numbers.
Then, with our new found brain power, fueled by none other than the thirty cent bag of salt n’ carbs, we had a great idea! We should obviously have been calling in the cranes this whole time! That’s what they did in the movies! They weren’t just laying there in the field, twiddling their thumbs! Of course, neither of us can make a crane sound to save our lives. But FEAR NOT! We have our cell phones, and there are some magnificent YouTube videos of cranes making lots of crane sounds on there. So we rolled down the windows of the truck and started blaring the YouTube videos at top volume. Which, of course, is not loud at all, because it’s a cell phone. After numerous videos were played, and still no cranes were to be seen, we determined that we would need to bring the bluetooth speaker tomorrow so that we could really amp up the volume. (More school girl giggling.)
Suddenly, we heard the yodeling that can not be mistaken for anything but SANDHILL CRANES!! We frantically tried spotting them out of the truck windows, craning our necks in all directions. Finally, we spotted them at the far end of the neighboring field. I hopped out to get the gun, and we devised a plan. There was really no way to sneak up on them …unless we were to skirt the field, creep along the ditch bank, and pop up over it in a surprise ambush. Seems like a solid plan, so that’s exactly what we do.
As we walk, we can hear them… but we can’t see them. We sneak a little further, and still no cranes. But now we hear the yodeling a few fields down. This makes no sense! We never saw them fly! So now we’re questioning our sanity. How could we have missed two giant birds flying away from us?! We pop up over the crest of the hill to see where they had flown, and there they were, silently wandering the field right in front of us! Of course, we spooked them off. (More giggling. We are clearly taking this very seriously.) We must have heard some other cranes off in the distance.
Luckily, these ones only flew to the other side of the field, though, so I had a great plan. I remembered the day before how the cranes had let us drive right by them before they flew off. It seemed like a good idea to drive up to them, pretending to be farmers, and then get out of the truck when we were good n’ close. Jared doesn’t think this will work, but he decides to humor me, as he usually does. We drive in their direction, and they fly off again before we are even remotely close. (Shocking.)
But we still hear cranes calling and realize now that there are three more cranes in the middle of the field- with no way to sneak up to them. So we sit there and watch for awhile. They are grazing their way around the field towards one of the edges. Idea!! We will have Jared drop me off at one side of the field, and he will drive around on the road, and walk around over yonder, causing them to fly off in my direction!! It’s PERFECT! This is the best plan we have had all day.
I would also like to indicate that this is not harassing wildlife because they’re in the middle of a giant alfalfa field, and we are driving on the same road that the drug dealers drive on every day, and also walking around near the road. And that’s it.
But none of this matters anyways, because as we are getting close to my drop-off point, THE CRANES TAKE OFF!
What the hell?!?!? We look across the field, and low and behold, my drug dealer’s son is driving along the road and has spooked them off. Just as planned. Except, he was not part of the plan!!!! And we weren’t ready!! UGH!!!!! Hopes and dreams crushed.
But there was, at least, some redemption in sight. To protect the innocent, we shall call the son… Payne, and Payne came bearing good news! And with that beacon of hope, I am leaving you until next time!