Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Quail Hunt


Size ten boot tracks were starting to stretch longer as we made our way through the yucca and cholla that rooted tough in the high plains of eastern Colorado. The unseasonably good weather had spread the birds out, expanding our search for coveys’ of scaled quail from typical to unknown, encompassing a backyard that endlessly blends earth to sky, and land to man.

White and brown flashes played in the distance, as the three dogs bounced their way through the hard landscape chasing scent. Happy tongues flew like flags from the sides of their mouths, indicating that their purpose in life was out here, connected to the birds in which our guns hoped to track. And it is through this purpose that they push both man and bird, pushing man to a point, and bird to the illusion of safety in native grasses and cactus.

The small Brittany broke down the east side of the slope, leaving the Pointer and Shorthair up top. She nosed down the hill, only to be lost to the height of a three foot cholla. Watching the far side of the plant for her to reappear, our footsteps quickened as we got into position to see her lowered shoulders and eyes locked on a small yucca thirty yards ahead. I came in below, walking directly towards her nose, watching for a sign. Gary stayed higher to my left, walking straight to her point, gun sliding into position. As she leaned closer, I leveled my shotgun. And as her right shoulder started to shake, two quail broke hard, flying directly over her head. Two quail lucky to miss her teeth as she went airborne for the frightened birds. Crack. The echo of the shot could be heard as the second bird fell lifeless to the ground.

“Nice shot,” I yelled up to Gary.  He smiled.

The end of our day came into view, as I realized the weight of the unspent shotgun shells that were at home in the front two pockets of my vest. The miles we put under our boots hadn’t been counted, but creeping pains indicated a healthy day in the field. And as we jumped the last fence of the day, a tired dog stopped thirty yards from the truck, satisfied with the days hunt, not wanting to leave her home.

39 comments:

  1. Good looking pup. Brittany's were always my fathers favorite bird dog.

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    1. I used to hunt mostly behind Setters and Brittanys back in ND. I had a ton of fun hunting behind this one yesterday (as well as the Shorthair and Pointer that were in the field as well). I just wish my bulldogs could do half the things that a good bird dog can do...

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  2. she's a beauty! obviously does a good job, too!

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    1. She is a beauty indeed..wish I could claim her as my own...ha!

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  3. I have always thought Bird dogs were an awesome specimen of dog. So smart they seem almost human. Great story and post. Tight Lines.

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    1. Trout- There is something really special about watching a bird dog work. They are awesome creatures...it's just too bad I let them down with my poor shooting.

      Cheers!

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  4. Thanks for taking us along. Beautifully done.

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    1. Mike- Thanks! It was a good day to be outside.

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  5. I have yet to try the Blues yet, it sure read like a great time. My setters are envious.

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    1. It is a fantastic time. Came home with some birds, and tired legs. It was a blast!

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  6. Very nicely done. I love spaniels, they are at home no matter where they are.

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    1. Howard- Thanks! Spaniels are great dogs...great in the field and comfortable on the couch.

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  7. Sounds like a beautiful day in the field. Well written Sanders.

    Ben

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    1. Ben- Thanks. It was a great day for sure.

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  8. Unlike fishing, you have some great built in company

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    1. Blake- It is fun watching those dogs work. Friends, birds, and dogs...pretty good day!

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  9. Nice day. Locking on a covey will raise the pulse. I gave up on birding east CO plains. Without a dog it's just a walk in the field.

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    1. Rider- I too have had a lot of nice walks on the plains...fun to have some dogs make it a little more eventful. Fun seeing those birds flush...

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  10. great post sanders! a good bird hunt behind a good dog is a good day

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    1. Travis- Thanks! It was a good day for sure...the dogs we hunted behind were pretty special.

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  11. Brit's, I've had the pleasure of owning three of them in my life.
    There are no greater friends one can have.

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    1. Brk Trt- I used to hunt behind my friends two Brit's back in Minnesota. They are awesome dogs, couldn't imagine better friends.

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  12. Dogs are a mans best friend. Seems like it was a great day to be in the field weather there where birds or not. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Brian- Watching the dogs work is something that never gets old. Worth every step of the hike...Now if I could just get my bulldogs in the field...

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  13. Glad to see you fishermen come over to the dark side every now and then. I've always thought I'd do more fishing if my dogs were part of the equation. Unfortunately they're more interested in swimming, which doesn't exactly increase your odds in a nice still pool.

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    1. Mark- I like the dark side...I need to get out there more often. I'm with you on the fishing dog thing. My bulldogs can't swim, so they need life jackets...I'll just equate them to tubers floating down the river. Maybe I need a more athletic dog...

      Well behaved hunting dogs like my friend's we hunted behind the other day might be the ticket.

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    2. Believe me, it's every bit as addictive as fishing. And not a whole lot cheaper.

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    3. There is no doubt that bird hunting is a hell of a lot of fun

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  14. Sanders
    This post has brought back so many fond memories for me. I use to be an avid quail hunter until all the land around here got leased by deer clubs. I finally sold my two pointer dogs and started devoting all my attention to fishing. My bird hunting adventures ended some 20 years ago. The Brittney you are hunting with is one of the classiest bird dogs ever. They will go where no other bird dog will and never quit. Thanks for sharing this post with a past bird hunter.

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    1. Bill- Glad to that you enjoyed the post. Too bad about the land being leased to all those deer camps...it's hard enough to find good land to hunt as it is. Love those Brittanies.

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  15. Had a great time Sean! Thanks for getting up at dark-thirty to make the journey. You definitely drew the short straw on travel for the day. Scaled quail are a character defining pursuit, a battle of will, commitment and stamina. I'm happy you were up the task and that we were able to scratch down a few birds. You should have enough feathers to fill your caddis box for quite a while to come. I look forward to putting them to the test on the Arkansas this spring.

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    1. Gary- Thanks again! It was so much fun to be out with you guys. Those quail were tough, but that's just the fun part of the deal. The feathers are getting ready to be put to use...I can see the caddis fly now.

      Cheers

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  16. Nice Post it's been far to long since I've hunted for birds.

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    1. Kevin- Thanks. It had been a while for me as well...my shooting was humbling proof.

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  17. Great post. You are so good at both being concise and descriptive. Something I struggle with. I laughed at your description of the dogs. Perfect.

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    1. d nash- Thanks. I appreciate the compliment. If only my wife thought the same thing...ha!

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    2. ha. I hear that. I have a tendancy to be tangential and ramble when talking to my wife. I'm amazed she can stand listening to me :)

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