Quail Stories


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July 18, 2007, 02:29 PM
Quail was the first game I hunted as a kid. My dad, my grandpa, and their friend, James, used to hunt together a lot. By the time I was old enough to go my grandpa's last hunting dog had died. He was old enough that he didn't want to train a new puppy and my dad didn't really have the time to put into training one so we hunted without a dog. The three of them had permission to hunt lots of places in addition to our farms. Most of the places had old pasture with grass one foot to 18 inches high and scattered small clumps of mesquite trees and scattered old junk, usually old broken down farm implements. Most of the coveys stayed around the trees or junk piles and the method used was to walk them up, shoot, then watch where the rest of the covey flew.

When I was maybe 8 they started letting me go along. At first my jobs were:

1. Stay in the line, which means to stay with the other hunters instead of getting out in front or too far behind. Dick Cheney's hunting buddy apparently didn't know about this rule.

2. Spot the downed birds and help look for them.

3. Watch where the rest of the covey went after the shooting stopped.

That is a lot of responsibility for an 8 year old.

I was 8 or 9 when we were out and somebody knocked down a bird. We spotted it down and went to get it. It was down but not out and I ended up catching it on the ground. I picked it up and asked my dad "What do I do now?" He replied "Pull it's head off." So I held it in my right hand and grabbed it's head in my left and started pulling, and pulling, and pulling. The bird started flapping. I thought to myself "This is harder to do than I thought it would be." Finally the head came off. I was surprised at how tight I had to hold it to keep it from getting away. It finally quit flapping and my dad said "Put it in your game bag." I stuck it in the pouch of Grandpa's old gamebag that I was wearing. Today the child psychologists would probably have fits of apoplexy just thinking up new mental and emotional problems this would cause kids. It never bothered me.

Later I got my first shotgun for Christmas. I think I was 14. It was a 12ga. SxS. I remember the first time I took it hunting and walking up to the first bunch of trees and the covey coming out. I picked out a bird, fired, missed, picked out another, fired, and connected. I remember yelling "I got it! I got it!"

One time we walked up among several mesquite trees and as we approached the covey came up and I fired and Grandpa fired. I looked over at my dad and there he was, standing by a tree with his gun mounted pointing almost straight up into the tree over him. One bird had flown out, circled back, and landed in the tree maybe 6 or 8 feet over my dad's head, too close to shoot with a shotgun. Dad stood there waiting for several seconds and finally the quail flew and Dad got him.

My dad told me one story about hunting on an old abandoned railroad track. He said three of them were walking up the tracks, one on the left, one in the center and one on the right. Suddenly, a single quail comes from the left. All three of them fired at it and all three missed. The now panicked quail hit the top strand of a barbed wire fence on the right side of the tracks and killed itself. I've always wondered who got to put that bird in their pouch.

Once we were hunting and had just shot at a covey rise. After we picked up the downed birds we always stomped around the area to find that one last bird that didn't go with the rest. This time my dad found it. Dad brought his gun up and fired and the quail exploded. Not just hit hard, but more like when someone smokes a skeet target. Picture a three foot diameter ball of feathers and stuff. We looked and all we ever found was the head and one foot. The shell was a factory load and the empty looked just like the others we were using. Dad didn't notice any difference in recoil. We concluded something had kept the shot from spreading and he centered the bird with the entire load of shot. Did I mention that my dad was an amazing wing shot when he was younger? Maybe a slug was loaded into the shell but that seems unlikely since the empty hull looked just like the rest.

My dad told me that when he was a teenager he went hunting with Grandpa in the pasture of the farm. On the side of one hill about 200 yards from the house a bird got up and someone shot it. Just as they reloaded a couple more got up. Then another one, then three more, and so on. Each time they would get their double guns reloaded another bird or two would take off. He said when the birds finally quit coming up from that spot they had 21 down on the ground.

One last quail story. My grandpa always kept a .22 and a shotgun in his car. My dad told me when he was a boy that Grandpa pulled off the road onto the private road to the farm and saw a covey of quail sitting under a tree maybe 10 or 15 feet from the road. Grandpa stopped, got out and grabbed his .22. He shot the first quail. A perfect shot that dropped the bird in place without any movement. So he shot another. Same thing. The he shot a third. This time he didn't hit it perfectly and it started flapping and scared the rest away. Three birds with three shots from a .22 is a pretty good score.

Let's hear some more quail hunting stories.

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eliphalet
July 18, 2007, 08:36 PM
Ate lunch today on a bridge, over a creek, at the ranch where I was working and had a family of quail come up the dirt road behind us and stay some time. Dozen or more little ones, and in time they all laid down in the shade. Interesting to watch the mothers interaction with the young, it was fun to see.

Two Golden Eagles were soaring overhead where we could watch them too.

FLORES425
July 18, 2007, 11:13 PM
I was hunting quail in bad weather (20deg) with a buddy last season.We pushed up about a dozen quail in a small canyon. I shot two with one shot from my 12ga. My buddy was yellin "good shot boy". I grabbed the quail up and put one in the already full game bag and the other in my front jacket pocket. I meet my buddy at the top on the canyon rim to talk and enjoy the view. As we were talking we heard something moving in my pocket and the quail popped its head out and flew straight down the canyon again. We looked at eachother and died laughing. I quickly ran down the wounded bird. The next day at work everyone was talking about the quail that almost got away:)

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