Quail hunts exhilarating

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Dennis L. Clay

This has been a fine and productive hunting season. Time spent with new and old hunting buddies is always precious. Notching a tag or dropping a bird is not necessary for a successful hunt, but taking game animals and birds is a valuable addition to any hunting season.

A doe, taken with a second deer tag, was the beginning. A cow elk, downed at the first part of November was a great addition. Two turkeys taken during the early fall season and another taken during the late fall season added to the bounty. The turkey hunts opened the door to quail hunts.

My hunting buddy, Rudy Lopez, and I acquired permission to hunt a certain property while looking for wild turkeys.

“They walk by the house every morning and head up the hill,” the landowner said. “Then they come back the same way every evening.”

My last turkey tag was notched on this property, but Rudy was still looking for his bird. We backed into a small road and watched a flock of turkey on the other side of the road, a property we did not have permission to hunt.

This flock worked its way from left to right and they were counted. There were 150, plus or minus a couple.

Rudy pointed out another flock, moving from right to left, and they were counted, too. There were 150, plus or minus a couple. The two flocks merged, making a large group of over 300.

Just then we noticed a battered pickup traveling the road, but it slowed and stopped directly in front of us.

“Rather inconsiderate of him to stop right in front of us,” Rudy said.

“Hey,” I said, “he may be the landowner.”

“You guys hunting turkey?” the man said. “If you are, go get them.”

It was the landowner and we then had permission to hunt both sides of the road.

We were also hunting pheasant, quail, Huns and chukar. Wearing hunter orange is required when hunting these birds.

Another pickup stopped by our position. They were Lincoln County road workers.

“Do you always hunt turkey in orange?” one asked.

Hunting the other birds was explained and they understood. They then pointed out some quail just 30 yards away.

The hunt started and a covey and the birds would fly 50 yards and land. We would jump them again and shots were fired. We walked the entire area a couple of times, with a lot of shots fired and had five birds in hand.

Three pheasants landed about 100 yards from us, one was a rooster. Our path was directed to the spot. No birds. I walked a few yards to the right and a beautiful rooster jumped within 10 feet of me. Three shots were fired and the bird flew away.

It has been years since a pheasant has been in my sights. It was a spectacular event, even if the bird didn’t drop.

Bill Witt and I decided to take on the upland birds last Monday, as the season continues through Jan. 18. Quail was to be our main quarry. We were not disappointed.

Snow was our friend on this day. It was much easier to see the birds on the backdrop of snow.

The field we were hunting was a weed patch, neglected for a year or two of weed control. The quail loved this field, as it was full of food, because of all the seeds.

Walking the field was difficult, because of the proximity of one tumbleweed to the next. Plus there was an abundance of other weeds as well.

There were even more birds in this field on this day. We jumped covey after covey and the birds didn’t fly far, even after we dropped one or two.

This pursuit continued until the birds were widely scattered. Bill and I then drove a couple of miles up the road, checking fields we had permission to hunt. We found lots of birds, but they were more difficult to hunt in the other fields.

A trip back to the original field found the birds had regrouped and another hike was appropriate. This routine continued for a couple more hours, with lots of shots fired and our shooting betting better. At 2:30 we headed home with a limit of 10 birds each.

My favorite shotgun on this hunt was a Remington 11-87 Sportsman semi-auto in 20 gauge. Quail also dropped to the Taurus Circuit Judge in .410 and the 12 gauge Benelli pump as well.

It is extremely lucky to experience such a hunt, where there is enough birds to allow three shotguns to be used with success. There is only one thing to do after such a hunt, with more birds available and the season ongoing: go get another limit.

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