What started out as just another hunting trip for Calvin Robinson has turned into a 35-year passion for the avid outdoorsman.
Back in 1969, Bob Harrison took Robinson and his brothers Jack, Phillip, George (Dick), Freddie and fellow carpenter Jim Albert on a grouse hunting trip to the Halsey National Forest in Halsey, Neb.
Although they have driven on the same stretch of highway in five different decades, it has been a journey that almost didn't make it past the first weekend.
"After making the trip for the first time," Robinson said, "we said we'd never go back. But here we are still going. I'm not sure why. It's just one of those things that gets a hold of you."
leave Fridays and stop along the way for a good night sleep before finishing the stretch Saturday morning.
But with the better transportation systems, Robinson said the 500-plus mile (one-way) trip that takes them 60 miles north of North Platte, Neb., can be made in one long shot.
The entourage started out with the original seven, but has had as many as 10 grouse seekers at one time. Unlike Robinson and the rest of the gang, however, some of them never made it back.
This year Calvin, Freddie, Jack and Phillip will be making the trip, along with nephews Lester Hanson and Arthur Hanson and friends Duke Huffman and Terry Davis. Also getting in on the action will be their trusty canines Ruben and Ike.
With 35 years of grouse hunting in one place under his belt, Robinson is able to recall several memories he had from that time span.
He reminisced about one of the first hotels they stayed in on a regular basis. They dubbed it the "Jesse James Hotel" because it resembled a hotel of the old-West era.
The 67-year-old De Soto resident and retired carpenter said all seven hunters had their own bed in one big room, but they had to share the shower and bathroom.
Robinson had another flashback to the "Old West" in the early 1980s when he encountered an "ld-fashioned cattle drive.
Several men on horseback were moving the cattle from one field to another right down the middle of the road.
"There they were in full gear," Robinson remembered. "They had their hats on but tilted forward so the rain would run off, and slickers. If I hadn't been driving down the road -- I would have believed I was in the old West."
He also recalled the time he almost became a victim of the sometimes dangerous sandhills.
"I heard him (Hanson) shoot his gun," Robinson said. "Otherwise I'd still be out there. I didn't know my way out, but lucky for us he did."
Robinson also encountered rattlesnakes, antelope and mule deer, along with many windmills he saw along the way.
This year's hard, hot hunt is penciled in for Sept. 12 through 14, because they traditionally take the trip the weekend closest to Sept. 15.
Robinson enjoys other kinds of hunting as well. He started turkey hunting three years ago at Wilderness Park. He said his first turkey kill was in La Cygne.
Although the ultimate goal of a hunt is bagging the bird of choice, Robinson just enjoys the process of the hunt.
"When you walk into a flock, it can scare you," he said. "You don't hardly get a shot off then. But it's just a thrill trying to get them (grouse) up and get a shot at them."
Robinson said some of the meat that will be served at the Kaw Valley Sportsman Association's wild game dinner would come from the Nebraska hunt. Besides the grouse, pheasant, turkey, deer and duck will be served as well.