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

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

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

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

Quarterback Roulette!

Pick a quarterback any quarterback! It’s time to play quarterback roulette.

You know that teams are in trouble when they switch quarterbacks every other week, or trade for one in the middle of the season.  In the case of the Browns, they totally screwed up a potential trade for the Bengals backup A.J. McCarron.  How does that happen in today’s world of technology?

I somewhat understand the Broncos making a change at quarterback, but I was at the Chiefs game against the Broncos and most of the offensive miscues were not all Trevor Siemians doing.  He had several passes dropped, one for a easy touchdown.  He did have a couple of unadvised throws, one particularly.  Quarterback training 101 and an absolute no no is, don’t throw back across the middle of the field late!  Very bad things usually happen, and it did.  Now the Brock Osweiler experiment begins.

Next, the 49ers have traded for the Patriots backup quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, which I think is a great move.  The only problem is he won’t have the supporting cast that he did in New England.  Even if they would have traded for Tom Brady they still would have a difficult time being competitive.  You need a good offensive line, an effective running game and an above average receiving core.  If they don’t improve in all of those areas, Jimmy may wish he was still the backup with the Patriots.

Let me get this correct, the Patriots trade Garoppolo and then sign Brian Hoyer, the quarterback that Garoppolo replaced at the 49ers. Interesting!  I am not sure I have seen this much activity around potential starting quarterbacks, this late in the season, ever.  I understand injuries will cause general mangers to find replacements. That’s not the case in these quarterback changes.

The current carousel of quarterback is difficult for everyone: the players, the teams, the coaching staffs and most of all the fans.  I have been in this position as a player myself.  Everyone thinks the backup quarterback is the answer. Not true.  A supporting cast of good players is a must.  It really helps if you add a few great players to the lineup as well.

Good luck to all of them!

The Outdoor Quarterback

Tight Ends Are Key To Today’s NFL Offenses

NFL teams are building their offenses around tight ends.

In the past you could count the number of really good tight ends on one hand.  Today every team has at least one outstanding tight end.  Today the Chiefs have three.  Many other teams have figured this out and are adding tight ends to their rosters every year.

Here are the names of just 10 tight ends who are having significant impact on each of their teams offenses; Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed, Travis Kelce, Greg Olsen, he is injured and his back-up Ed Dickson, is playing great, Tyler Eifert, Jimmy Graham, Kyle Rudolf, Eelanie Walker, Zach Ertz and Jack Doyle.  I haven’t even mentioned a first ballot Hall of Famer, Antonio Gates, who just broke Tony Gonzalez’s touchdown receptions by a TE.  The majority of these TE’s are big time receivers, not just blocking TE’s.  They can run and are huge targets.  In 2016 the Chief’s TE Travis Kelce led all receivers, both tight ends and wide receivers, with yards gained after the catch.

I remember back in the late 60’s and early 70’s the Chiefs had a TE who was 6’10”, Morris Stroud.  You talk about a target!  How would a 6′ strong safety defend him, they couldn’t.  Now days most of these TE’s are 6’5″ to 6’7″ tall and weighing from 245 to 265 lbs.  As a matter of fact several of the TE’s today are coming from college basketball programs, like Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez.  One of the current TE’s for the chiefs, Demetrius Harris, played college basketball and not football.

Just to show you what type of premium NFL teams are putting on TE’s, the 19th player selected in the 2017 NFL draft, by Tampa Bay, was Alabama’s TE, O.J. Howard.

If you play fantasy football don’t leave any of these TE’s of off your starting lineup.  My starting TE is someone I haven’t even mentioned, Martellus Bennet, TE for the Green Bay Packers.

The Outdoor Quartback

October Bass Fishing, Don’t Miss The Opportunity

October is still a good time to catch trophy Bass!

At lot of bass anglers, including myself, have a tendency to put away their rod and reels and pick up their bows, shotguns or firearms for more traditional fall activities.  There is a feeding frenzy that bass go through in October before the waters get to cold.  This is an opportunity to get in on some incredible fishing.

For those of you who live in the south where your waters don’t change temperatures dramatically, like those of us in the Mid West, keep on fishing.  But for us Mid Westerners, this is it!  I have personally caught two of my biggest bass in mid October, both where in the 8 plus pound range.  I have never been much of a spinner bait fan, more of a plastic bait guy like worms, crawdads and lizards, crank baits and top water plugs.  But both of those two October fish were caught with a chartreuse and white two bladed willow leaf spinner bait.  Now I am a bit of a convert and never leave home without at least two of those baits in my tackle box.

I primarily fish out of a two man bass buggy type boat.  The main reason is that we fish a lot of farm ponds, two to 30 acre size ponds, instead of large lakes.  I really enjoy catching fish and well stocked and older farm ponds are an excellent place to catch a bunch of fish, and big ones.  The early fall is a perfect time to fish these smaller bodies of water because they normally turn colder much quicker than large bodies of water, like lakes or reservoirs, that are considerably deeper.

Take advantage of these final weeks of October while water temperatures are still good and the October Bass Feeding Frenzy is on.

The Outdoor Quarterback

Are The Kansas City Chiefs That Good?

It’s okay if you want to jump on the Kansas City Chiefs ban wagon, they are for real!

I keep getting emails and text messages asking me, “are the Chiefs really that good”?  The simple answer is yes!  My next comment is, and that’s without All-Pro Safety, Eric Berry, starting running back Spencer Ware and our center Mitch Morse.  Eric Berry and Spencer Ware are out for the year, which are both tremendous losses to the Chiefs.  Mitch Morse has a foot injury and should be back soon.  Fortunately we replaced Spencer Ware with, right now, the best running back in the NFL; Kareem Hunt.  It is difficult to loose a player like Eric Berry and expect the defense to play at a high level, but they are picking up the slack very well.

They have already played on the biggest stages starting the 2017 season.  The opening game on Thursday night against the defending Super Bowl Champions, the New England Patriots and on Monday Night Football against the Redskins, a really good team.  They are the only 4-0 team in the NFL, which no one predicted.  How is this possible, several of my non believers have asked!

For the first time, in a very long time, the Chiefs have more offensive weapons at their disposal than at any time I can remember, dating back to 1975.  Alex Smith, the quarterback, is playing exceptionally well, making all the plays and keeping drives alive with his legs as well as his arm.  The Chiefs have four other players that opposing teams have to account for on every offensive play, Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and in my opinion the sleeper, Chris Conley, a 6’3″ 205 pound wide receiver who has tremendous speed, 4.35 in the forty.  Defensive coordinators are literally spending sleepless nights trying to figure out a scheme to stop them.  A luxury for the Chiefs.

Offense can’t win games by themselves.  The Chiefs defense has done a very good job of stopping the run, a weakness of the 2016 defense.  With the loss of Berry at safety, the Chiefs secondary has had to step up their play and have responded very well.  Still one of the top defensive teams in creating turnovers, which is a key statistic the offense loves to see.  What is more impressive is who they have played against, Tom Brady, Carson Wentz, Philip Rivers and Kirk Cousins.  Four of the top ten quarterbacks in the league.

Let’s not forget the Chiefs may have the most effective punter, Dustin Colquitt, in the NFL.

It’s the Okay the jump on the Chiefs Ban Wagon!

The Outdoor Quarterback

Try The Katy Trail

The Katy Trial offers more than just a place to bike or hike, it has great history!

Years ago, nearly twenty, my oldest daughter told me she wanted to run a marathon!  Knowing her she needed someone to train with to keep her focused and challenged.  So I said if you are serious I will train with you and we will run one together.  Our simple goal was to run the marathon without stopping or walking.  We had no specific time we were shooting for, just run the entire marathon.  Next we had to select a place to run.  My vote was to run the flattest marathon we could identify.  Hello Chicago!

At the time my daughter was a student at the University of Missouri.  We agreed to do our short runs and training during the week and I would travel to Columbia every other weekend to do our long runs.  That is when I was introduced to the Katy Trail.  It was a great place to run, nice and flat for us novice runners, but had exceptional views with many historical places.

The park is the largest unbroken rail trail corridor in the country, stretching nearly 240 miles across most of central Missouri. The history of the route can be traced back to the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad (a.k.a., the Katy, or the MKT), and the corridor was part of its main line to St. Louis.

I have a double major from Utah State in History and Geography.  Training on the Katy Trail was more than just a place to run for me.  It was a living historical site that dated back to 1865.  Several locations we ran were along the Missouri River.  Some of the areas were historical sites where Lewis and Clark stopped and camped during the expedition.

Today the Katy Trial is an excellent place to walk, run or ride your bike.  I highly recommend to all outdoor enthusiast.  You should plan a trip to visit the historical Katy Trial.

The Outdoor Quarterback

Chiefs Ruin Patriots Championship Flag Ceremony

The Boston Tea Party replayed as the Chiefs spoils the Patriots celebration.

Make no mistake the Patriots and Tom Brady had a bad night against the Kansas City Chiefs.  Or was it that quarterback, Alex Smith and rookie running back Kareem Hunt both had great nights.  The Chiefs defense played really well most of the game.  They still have that bend but don’t break defensive philosophy, which works most of the time, but against a QB like Brady, normally he is going to get you if you keep giving him opportunities.  The Chiefs defense did a great job on two fourth down attempts by the Patriots, one of the many keys to their victory.

It was pretty obvious that the Chiefs needed to put pressure on Tom Brady, make him move in and out of the pocket, in other words, make him uncomfortable.  They did that in the second half which was the turning point for the defense.

The Chiefs offense was playing well from the start of the game.  Rookie running back Kareem Hunt played more like seasoned veteran than a rookie.  Now he will be a marked man!  He will also be on everyone’s fantasy team!

As a former quarterback I can tell you that Alex Smith’s performance was incredible.  80% completion, you can’t do that just playing catch on the sidelines.  368 passing yards and 4 touchdown passes, two of them over 75 yards.  But it was the situation he was playing in, Thursday night, first game of the 2017 regular season, the only NFL game for the nation to watch, against the defending Super Bowl Champs and Tom Brady!  I would say he handled the pressure way beyond expectations.

One of the better team efforts I have seen from the Chiefs in several years.  Like Alex Smith, “it is one of sixteen”.  I am sure what coach Reed said was, great win, now let this one go, learn from the good and bad, then move on to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Outdoor Quarterback