Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What Does Quail Mean Anyway?

If you asked me what quail means, I would say hunting with my Dad, watching the dog work or waiting for my son and daughter to hit their first bird on a covey rise.  Twenty some odd years ago, someone might have said “the vice-president” when asked what quail means.  What do our youth today say?
Don McKenzie makes the point that kids today do not even know what quail are, not to mention what it means.  Not even kids in a hunter education class.  To help reverse this trend as well as the trend of less habitat for quail, go to Things Today's Kids May Never Know About and read his story.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

First Steps

Most of us remember our first time shooting, for me it was at a clay pigeon with my Dad’s Browning over/under.  Most of us don’t remember our first steps as a baby, but the parents remember it.  I remember my Daughter’s first step.  It caught us off guard, but there she was coming down the hall.  We launched for our camera.  Why do parents always want a picture and a video?  The memory is etched in my mind.

A few weeks ago, Sydnie took her first step with a shotgun.  It’s proud moment for a parent, but just as a baby’s first step, it was an awkward moment for her.  She shot twice at a target and the first time nearly knocked her backwards.  By the second shot, she was steady, held the gun tight to her shoulder and hit the target at 30 yards. 

Of course we don’t expect a 9 month old baby to take off running a mile.  I shouldn’t expect my daughter to hit tough shots now.  Instead, it’s all about safety and learning to shoot.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Bird in the Ravine is Worth Two in the Bush

Quail Season is here in Georgia and things have changed around Johnny's hunting camp.  Two years ago, we were all sitting in deer stands every morning and every evening.  Johnny's son kept that vigil this year, but no one else ventured out of camp with a rifle.  There are coveys around and that's the focus now.

Sydnie and Rube

Some of you may remember that I planted a Dove Field over the summer and that it didn't produce as much as I hoped.  I spent much of the First Dove Season hunting a friend's field and skipped the second season.  Anyway, what the field didn't do for the Doves, it did for the Quail.  This was the area where we found birds over the long Thanksgiving Weekend.  And what a sight to see Johnny's young Brittney working and pointing.

Sydnie and a Brittany Ready to Hunt
The first time we found this covey, it was in an eight year old clear cut heading up to the field.  I was on the road and the Brittany came running down without a care, when it suddenly stopped, turned, locked, and sprinted in the woods with purpose.  Johnny and George headed into the clear cut, but the birds scattered.  Johnny's dad, Rube, did shoot one that made it up to the field, but it landed in the woods and we couldn't find it.  Oh well.

That afternoon, Johnny and I headed back up to the field to see if the covey had regrouped.  The Brittany again was birdy in the field, but headed in the woods at the edge.  As we approached the woods, PURRRRROUGH, a covey rose from under our feet!  Caught off guard we rose and I downed a bird that fell in about the same bush as the bird that morning.  And again, after searching and searching, we had no luck at finding the bird.  Oh Well.

The field gave us another chance the next day.  When we got to the field in the afternoon, the Brittany looked birdy as soon as we got there.  He found a bird at the lower corner and Johnny called that it was a single.  The dog held the point perfectly giving us time to set up.  I stepped in, and the whole covey rose with a surprise to us all.  I was somehow able to hit one, but again it landed in the woods.

As we stepped into the woods, we met a sheer cliff going into a ravine about 25 feet deep.  And at the bottom was the quail.  Johnny’s Brittany was more interested in the single birds in the woods, so a long walk to the bottom of the ravine and back up was the only way to retrieve.  But we at least had a quail in the bag.

A Craw full of Sesame

Cleaning this bird showed a craw full of the Sesame I had planted for doves.   Johnny added four others to the meal that night of fried Quail.  The best things about these quail hunts: watching the dog work, getting a shock at a covey rising at my feet, a craw full of Sesame, my daughter refusing to let someone else carry her heavy gun, and listening to Johnny and his dad argue over the value of the dog.