I've been struggling to find a way to cram a few more shells in my over-under shotgun.

I've thought about using some sort of clip, like those you'll find in a bolt-action shotgun.

And I've thought about drilling a couple nice big holes through the stock to the chamber of the shotgun. You know, shoot, break open the action and then the spring-loaded shells would pop right in, ready for a couple more shots.

But I can't figure out how to keep the firing pins from falling out when I drill the more than half-inch diameter holes through the stock.

You see, I've continued this pattern of seeing roosters in groups of four or more. Never just one or two, the ideal number for my two-shot firearm of choice.

No, they've been showing up in groups of four or five.

That's the dilemma.

Granted, it's a dilemma I like considering that over the years, the state's pheasant population had declined -- only to start climbing ever higher in each of the last three or four years.

This might, I hate to say it, be the year of the big kills.

The cover isn't as heavy as it's been in previous years. Even the fields of milo that pheasants could hide in and laugh at us all, are fewer and farther in between.

They've been replaced by corn fields, which, after harvesting, don't leave the amount of cover that pheasants can use to hide in. (Of course, when a pheasant can seemingly hide under a bent-over blade of grass, anything's possible.)

So I'm figuring that I'll be able to mosey out the door, shoo my resident deer herd to the side and walk out the back gate. For a change of pace, I suppose I could walk out the side gate.

Armed with my repeating over-and-under shotgun, I'll be able to step out, gun down my daily bag limit and head back in to warm up and watch a little something on the TV.

But then reality starts to set in.

As is always the case, once the season started, the birds refused to remain so tame.

They knew exactly when the season started, and how long it will last.

They know how to read and they'll see that pheasant season is already under way. They'll see that it's time to head for the heaviest cover they can find. And they'll know to flush far ahead, where the danger is at its least.

Oh sure, there are always some young -- and dumb but tasty -- birds for hunters to harvest.

The reality is also there that conditions are not ideal

Wheat fields in northwest Kansas are thin and as any pheasant hunter worth his salt should know that so goes the wheat, so goes the pheasant.

Dry weather is slowing the rate of growth for the area wheat crop. If good rains aren't received, there could be some cause for concern for fields as they come out of dormancy in the spring. That's when hens will take to the field to nest and raise new broods, the crop of next year's season.

To be sure, I don't know how it will turn out, but the stage has been set.

So hunters need to enjoy this year, as it could be the last of the best.

I know I'll enjoy my time outdoors. It's always the best.