Upland Game Birds Are High On January Hunt List

Hunting pheasants and quail in January is one of if not the best time to be in the field.

There is still time go chase some great upland game birds.  I know it is late in the season for some areas, but January is one of the best times to take to the field.  If there is snow on the ground in the area you hunt, don’t miss the opportunity to take after the pheasants and quail.  The conditions are ideal for the dogs.  Information I am getting is, the birds are holding tighter.  The recent cold spells we have been having has the pheasants in big bunches.  Also, the quail are being found in traditional habitat and thickets.  So if something looks birdie, make sure you go check it out.

I have been hunting quail for over 50 years.  For many of those years quail hunting was my very favorite outdoor activity.  Growing up in Southern California, outside of Riverside, we had huge covey’s of California Quail.  It wan’t unusual to see coveys of a 150 birds or more.  Then when I got back to the mid-west and discovered that a 25 bird covey of bobwhite quail was really good.  Now I realize why all the guys I hunted with got so excited.  We are still not back to covey’s that big in the mid-west, but quail populations are on the rise in Kansas and parts of Oklahoma.

Looking forward to getting out over the next 10 days and see what we can find.  It looks like we may be heading to western Kansas.  Reports have been very good and we have access to good areas.  What makes these late hunts fun, is the dog work.  Dogs live for these types of opportunities, and it is up to us to make sure they get out and do what they were bred for.

The Outdoor Quarterback

NFL Final Four

The NFL version of the final four is here and should be an exciting Sunday.

It’s not college basketball’s March Madness, but it’s the NFL’s version of it.  The final four teams left in the playoffs, Vikings, Eagles, Patriots and Jaguars, are ready to determine who’s going to the Super Bowl.  It’s no surprise the Patriots are there once again!  After all the injuries I think everyone is surprised the others made it this far.  If you are tired of the Patriots being here again, there is a simple solution, just step up and beat them.  Until that happens or Tom Brady  retires, get use to it.

This weekend of playoff games could be very interesting.  If the Jaguars can keep from turning the ball over and play their style of defense, I give them a good chance to win.  This has to be a game of no mistakes, including untimely penalties.  Turnovers, defensive penalties, and giving the Patriots great field position will allow Tom to put a lot of  points on the board.  I just don’t see Jacksonville scoring 40 points again.  If the Jaguars can keep Tom and the Patriots under 23 points, I think they will win.  Everyone knows that Tom and the Patriots have been here before, many times, but this is the first kick at the can for Blake Bortles.   Hopefully he can stay calm and keep up his error free play.  The old saying, “Defenses win championships” may never be to put to the test more than this weekend.  Personally, I love the underdogs but it is hard to bet against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

The NFC Championship game is full of incredible stories.  Both quarterbacks, Nick Foles of the Eagles, and Case Keenum of the Vikings are great stories with potential storybook endings.  Basically Case was the third quarterback on the Vikings roster.  Right now, in my opinion, he is the league MVP.  The way he has played this year and how he has led the Vikings is something Disney couldn’t have scripted.  Nick Foles stepped in for Carson Wentz, who at the time of his injury was the leading candidate for this years league MVP.  Now he is in the position to take the Eagles to the Super Bowl.  Before this season started, you could’t have made this up.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs from NCIS always talks about his his gut feelings.  My guts are telling me that the Eagles are going to win.  But the rest of my anatomy is on the Vikings.  Nothing would be better for the NFL than to have the Vikings become the first team in NFL history to play in a Super Bowl hosted by their home town.  If that happens, Disney will come out with a fairy tale type movie, guaranteed!

The Outdoor Quarterback

 

The NFL Playoffs Continue

The Vikings against the Saints should be the best game of the weekend, it’s indoors so no blizzard just great football!

I am still depressed over the Chiefs loss!  It’s time to get over it and move on.  The next round of the NFL playoffs are coming up and there will be some great games.  In my opinion the Vikings against the  Saints  will be the best game of the weekend.  Even though I played for the Vikings and I like their chances, there is something about the Saints this year.  They may have to best tandem running backs in the NFL with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, who is in the running, no pun intended, for offensive rookie of the year.  It has been a long time since I have seen two backs that complement each other like they do.  If the Vikings stop the run, which their defense can, then you have to deal with Drew Brees.  I am not sure there would be many other quarterbacks I would rather have playing for me in the playoffs than Drew, maybe Tom Brady, Joe Montana or John Elway.  I know it is a short list!

One thing about the Saints this year is the improvement of their defense.  They are fast, play with great intensity and everyone runs to the ball.  They are led by Cameron Jordan, who’s engine never stops running.  Of all the defensive players in the league right now, I wouldn’t hesitate to turn the channel to a Saints game to watch him play.  There are not many other defensive players I would do that for, JJ Watts, Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Luke Kuechly are about it.  Along with Cameron, all of the players are game changers, keep an eye on 94.

Two of the best stories in the NFL this year are quarterback Case Keenum and wide receiver Adam Thielen.  I can absolutely make a case for Case Keenum as the NFL MVP.  To do what he has done for the Vikings this year is incredible.  I have been so impressed with how he has led this team and what he has accomplished.  I have become such a fan of his, I made him my starting quarterback in fantasy football.  The other big story this year for the Vikings is the play of wide receiver Adam Thielen.  He has caught 91 passes for 1,276 yards. Not bad for a free agent.  Adam had the longest pass reception for the vikings this year, 65 yards.  No question about it, he will be Case’s favorite target against the Saints.

Just a reminder, both teams play in a dome stadium, so no advantage for the Vikings.  The noise for the home town team will be!

The Outdoor Quarterback

Worse Playoff Loss in Chiefs History?

Since 1953 no home team has lost a playoff game with a halftime lead of 18 points or more!  Welcome to the record book Chiefs.  Embarrassing and frustrating are the two words that come to mind.  I can’t remember ever seeing a team dominate the first half of a playoff game more than the Chiefs did.  Then to see a team play like they did in the second half.  Alex Smith had a perfect qb rating in the first half, even with several passes dropped.  The second half was sort of typical on how the Chiefs have approached the second half when holding a lead.  This play not to loose philosophy instead of playing to win attitude is what cost the Chiefs the game.  The one play that may illustrate what I am referring to was a third down and less than 1 to go, the Chiefs called a quarterback option play that lost them three yards!  Just a reminder, the Chiefs have the number one running back in the NFL, Kareem Hunt.  Wouldn’t that have been a better option?

The defense strategy early on was pretty good, man coverage and pressure the quarterback.  Then for some reason, back to the play not to lose approach, we started playing zone coverage without a spy on Marcus Mariota.  A formula for disaster in this league.  The biggest bone head move by the defensive coaches took place late in the 2nd quarter.  Tennessee was running a hurried up offense, no huddle, and our defensive genius decides he is going to substitute two defensive linemen.  Well when two go in two must come out.  The problem was the Titans were already at the line of scrimmage ready to snap the ball while the Chiefs linemen being substituted for were less than half way off the field.  The Chiefs sacked the quarterback but too many men on the field penalty wiped that out!  So instead of a seven yard loss, they got 5 yards on the penalty plus the down over.  This all resulted in the Titans kicking a field goal.  The Chiefs lost the game 22 to 21, you do the math!  Now, it isn’t the only reason the Chiefs lossed the game, our field goal kicker missed a kick well in his range.  In the playoffs you cannot afford to miss on any scoring opportunities, ask the Carolina Panthers.

The Chiefs had zero turnovers and the Titans had two.  Normally when you win the turnover battle, you win the game, not the Chiefs.  It’s one thing to lose a game when players don’t perform or execute the game plan.  But when you add poor coaching to the mix, it’s hard to be victorious!

Not trying to make anyone feel better about the Chiefs loss, but the call when Derrick Johnson hit Mariota and caused a fumble and the Refs ruled his forward motion had been stopped was maybe the worse call by an Official in playoff history.  Even as a former quarterback, that was a great hit which resulted in a fumble.  I am sure the NFL will be sending the Chiefs a letter stating it should have been ruled a fumble.  Perfect!

The Outdoor Quarterback

Playoffs Are Here And The Chiefs Are At Home!

The Chiefs are in position to win a home playoff game, let’s see if they can!

Well of course I am going to talk about the Chiefs winning the division and getting a home playoff game!  Let’s just hope there isn’t a mid- season relapse and that they continue to play like they have for the past three weeks!  Very proud of how they have battled back to the way they started the season.

The Titans will be coming to Arrowhead to take on the Chiefs.  Tennessee  has beaten the Chiefs the last two times they played.  Over the years, playing at Arrowhead has been a huge advantage.  I guess they will find out if that is still true late Saturday afternoon.  Should be a great game!

Two key players will be absent from the Chiefs roster, De’Anthony Thomas and Akeem Hunt.  Both have contributed significantly to the Chiefs offense and special teams this season.  Running back C.J. Spiller has been signed to the Chiefs roster for the fourth time this year.  Spiller knows the offense and should add depth to the running back position and on special teams.  He could be a factor in this weeks playoff game against the Tennessee Titans.

The Titans are led by third year quarterback  Marcus Mariota.  No question Marcus is a play maker and can hurt you throwing the football as well with his legs.  A key scramble with a picture perfect stiff arm, led to a critical first down that put the game on ice for the Titans and secured their playoff position.

I think their defense in underestimated.  They are number one in the NFL in not giving up deep passes, while the Chiefs, believe it or not, lead the NFL in  deep throws.  This could be a key factor in winning or losing the game.  If the Chiefs can complete one pass play over 40 yards, I believe they will win.  They need to stretch the field early to open up the running game for Kareem Hunt.  The Chiefs have the weapon that can do that, Tyreek Hill, the Cheetah!

Go Chiefs!

The Outdoor Quarterback

 

NFL Playoff Picture Is Getting Clearer

Christmas may come early for some NFL teams.

This past weekend cleared up some of the NFL playoff scenarios.  New England, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Jacksonville have all secured playoff spots.  Congratulations goes out to Jacksonville and Minnesota for their year so far.  Minnesota had to go to their backup quarterback, Case Keenum, who is now in the running for the league MVP.  The Jaguars quarterback, Blake Bortles, has come on strong in the last three games.  Blake has the highest QB rating over those three weeks than any other quarterback in the NFL.  Both the Vikings and Jaguars defenses have played a huge role in their success.  Don’t be surprised to see both of these teams go deep in the playoffs.

That is what we know.  What we don’t know is how things are going to shake out in the divisions that are undecided.  The Chiefs needs to win just one of their two remaining games to win the AFC West.  The Rams, Saints and Panthers are all 10-4 and look good to make the playoffs.  The Panthers are at the top of the wild card picture.  The Falcons, by winning out, could actually win their division.  They hold the tie breaker over the Saints.  They need to win at least one more game to make the playoffs.  Their last two games are against the Panthers and the Saints.  All of these teams, Saints, Falcons and Jaguars are playing playoff level football.  I like the Saints.  I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these three teams makes it to the Super Bow.  The last two weeks of the season for the NFC South are going to be intense!

The team, I think, that may be a big surprise in this years playoffs is the LA Rams.  This past week they put a beating on the Seahawks, which I didn’t think was possible, especially in Seattle.  The only thing that will stop the Rams is the lack of playoff experience.  They are my long shot to make to the NFC championship.

Santa is going to come early to some of these teams on Christmas Eve!

The Outdoor Quarterback

December Football & Hunting, It’s Great!

December is a month to experience great football and outstanding hunting.

Football in December is incredible.  NFL teams are battling to make the playoffs.  The college bowl season is just getting started.  And some of the best hunting is taking place.

I can’t remember when there where so many teams still alive to make the playoffs.  The only team that has won it’s division, is the Philadelphia Eagles.  All of the other divisions are still up for grabs.  Most the NFL games remaining mean something.  Even games involving teams who are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs can affect the playoffs, they can play the role of spoilers.  The game this week between the Steelers and the Patriots is basically for the number one seed in the AFC.  The game between the Chiefs and Chargers is for the division lead.

College bowl games are getting started this weekend.  There are 41 bowl games, I know it’s a lot, but I think this year may have some of the best match ups ever.  No question the two semifinal games between Clemson and Alabama and Oklahoma vs Georgia will be awesome, but the games between USC and Ohio State, Stanford and TCU, Washington and Penn State plus Miami vs Wisconsin will be just as competitive.   I am looking forward to watching them.

Besides exciting football, some of the hunting opportunities will be at their peak.  Much of the waterfowl that has been hanging up in the Dakotas and Canada have started showing up in the lower mid west.  In our area, we have noticed an increase in ducks for the past several days.  Just today I noticed an increase in the flights of geese, both Canada and snows.  The rest of December should be great for waterfowl, if it doesn’t freeze up to quickly.

Late season for deer should be really good as well.  Archer’s have a chance to get in on some secondary rut activity.  For me it is an opportunity to take a few youth hunters out.  It’s just a great time to be in the woods.

Some of the reports I am getting from western Kansas regarding the pheasants and quail are very good.  The colder weather is bunching up the pheasants and offers a much better hunting experience.  Nothing is worse than hunting western Kansas when temperatures are still in the 70’s and the crops haven’t been harvested.

December is a month for more than just Christmas!

The Outdoor Quarterback

Great NFL Match Ups in Week 14

Week 14 in the NFL is must watch TV! Don’t miss it.

There are some great games this week in the NFL.  One particular game is the Chiefs vs Raiders.  Both teams are 6 and 6 with division implications written all over it.  The loser of this game maybe out of the playoffs for this year.  I know the Chiefs have won 6 out of the last 7 meetings, but the Chiefs have been in a downward spiral for past six weeks.  The Raiders won the first meeting on a late fourth quarter touchdown in Oakland.  This is one of the best rivalries in all of the NFL, I am sure that loss doesn’t sit well with the Chiefs.  But for the Chiefs to win, they must tackle on defense and play less conservatively on offense, much like they did against the Jets and the New England Patriots.

Another game that I will be watching is the Saints vs Falcons.  As a former quarterback, this game offers two of the best in the league.  A for sure Hall of Fame’r, Drew Brees and a potential Hall of Fame’r Matt Ryan.  Love to watch these guys play.  Neither one of them are afraid to toss the rock in tight spots.  Both the Saints and Falcons can run the ball well, which will present challenges to each teams defenses.  My two favorite players in this match up are, Julio Jones (Falcons) and Alvin Kamara  (Saints).  Jones may be the best receiver in the NFL and Alvin could be offensive rookie of the year.  Each of these players can do it all at their positions.  Should be exciting to watch.

One other game that I will turn on this weekend is the Rams vs Eagles.  The two quarterback were drafted 1 and 2 two years ago.  Both Jared Goff and Carson Wentz are exceeding everyone’s expectations.  The Rams and Eagles are leading their respective divisions.  Each of these quarterbacks are having, statistically, great years.  More importantly they are winning games.  Must see TV for the football junkies.

A great weekend for meaningful games.  Don’t miss them!

The Outdoor Quarterback

The Selection Committee Got It Right

Get ready for the best semifinals in the playoff era!

I know there has been a lot of conversation regarding the College Selection Committee and their recent picks of the top four teams playing for the national championship.  But this time I believe they got it right.  I know that Ohio State and USC might disagree, but if you were to ask a knowledgeable college football fan, leaving their bias out of it, who are the four best teams this year, it would be difficult not to choose Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia and Alabama.  Take away their conference affiliation, wouldn’t these be the four teams you would select?   They would be my choices.

I know that many fans don’t think it is right that one conference should be allowed more than one team in the playoffs.  But that is not what this is about.  It is about identifying the four best teams and finding out, on the field, who is the best team in the country.

My prediction is these four teams will provide the most exciting and entertaining semifinal games ever played during the playoff era.  That is how closely they are matched.  No matter who wins the semifinals, the national championship game should be outstanding.

I also think this is a great opportunity for USC and Ohio State to prove they too were worthy of consideration for one of the top four spots.  My advice to them would be, don’t lay an egg in this game.  Obviously USC’s loss to ND and Ohio States loss to Iowa were major factors in not be selected as one of the final four teams.  Prove them wrong.

New Years Bowl games are now back to where they should be, can’t wait.

The Outdoor Quarterback

Don’t Leave Your Stand or Blind to Early

Late in the rut, big bucks are still moving, so don’t leave your stand or blind too soon.

This deer season I have seen and heard about hunters staying in their stands or blinds only until about 10:30 A.M. then getting down thinking the morning hunt was done.  Not so fast my hunting friends.  With the full moon we are experiencing, I have seen rutting bucks either chasing does or checking scrapes at times well after 10:30 A.M.

When you have changes in the weather and fast moving fronts, warm or cold, you are going to see a lot more animal movement.  My suggestion is, if you must get down or out, do it quickly and don’t take long, then get right back in the stand or blind.  Lately we have been seeing some big buck activity around noon.  Even with the unseasonable weather and changing

temperatures, we have seen some of our bigger bucks out and about at times when most hunters are eating lunch or taking naps.  These bucks were on their feet tending a doe, scent trailing or just roaming.  Don’t make the mistake of getting out of your blind or stand too soon.

The longer you sit the better your odds are of taking a good deer, especially this time of the year.  So bring an extra pad!

It has been several years ago, but I was hunting in central Kansas with several buddies who all stopped around 10 AM.  I looked at the solar table which said straight up noon was the major movement time.  I grabbed my bow and got back in the stand and at 12:20 stuck a 150 inch nine point.  Lucky, maybe, but I knew I couldn’t shoot anything laying on the couch and with the rut being in full swing, I liked my odds.

Bring your lunch, extra water and a pee bottle.  You never know what might walk by!

The Outdoor Quarterback