A smile, an ear and manners.

That is what my hunting partners and I brought to Kansas several years ago. We’ve been bringing back wild turkeys ever since.

You see, my friends and I hunt private farmland in Kansas because that’s what is most abundant. A few years ago we didn’t know Adam down there. Now we know Matt, Steve, Frank and Cork. Others too. All allow us to prowl their pastures, woodlands and field edges. It’s pretty cool.

It’s pretty cool because civility — not calling ability — is the root of our hunting success. We came. We listened. We learned. And in doing so we opened doors that allowed our blinds, chairs and decoys to follow.

It is trendy to bang the drum for public lands, and that’s a good thing. Still, now is time to listen to America’s farmers, too. They have stories to tell, and they’re worth hearing.

My hunting partners and I hear many insightful tales during an evening wild game feast we host for the farmers on whose land we trod. Hunting partner Gary brings hand-picked wild rice. Rad brings his homemade wine, beer, pie and canned veggies. Greg and Pete bring smoked turkey, goose and other tasty vittles. I bring pheasant and homemade applesauce. It’s all good. In fact, it’s great. Breaking bread with the locals is a highlight of our trip.

Like many, I maintain a list of gear necessary for turkey camp. I have yet to put “be a good listener” on the roster, but it belongs on the top.