Friday, October 26, 2012

Dry Years Equals No Big Coveys

The last few years, I guess I've been spoiled.  Coveys of 50 to 100 quail were common for me even though most people were reporting little to no birds seen.  I guess I just knew where the birds were and others did not.  This year I wonder- if I'm not running into the numbers I'm used to, what are others seeing?  Maybe nothing. 

Morning Hunt

Today I decided to hit "The G" a little secret spot that seems only a few know about.  When I reached the area I noticed a pickup truck with two dog kennels in the bed parked near the area.  So I decided not to enter the area and hunt another.  I left for CBF.  When I first was introduced to this area, it was a gold mine.  I once saw a covey of several hundred quail here.  That of course was one of those glorious el nino years.  Since then as the wet years have become fewer and fewer, the birds are harder to find.  That being said the birds are still there, you just need to work for them. 

After gearing up and heading to the field, Kaiser was getting birdy.  Within the first 5 minutes a covey of 12 flushed not too far from where we parked.  I managed to make a shot but had no luck.  I saw them running and we went after them.  We chased them, flushing out the singles but were unable to connect with any.  We worked the field aggressively for several hours.  No other birds were found.  So we circled our way back to the truck.  A pair of valley quail flushed I took the one closest to my left and shot.  I saw the bird glide down into ground.  I called the dog and made chase.  I believe I hit him but it was not solid hit.  I must have only nicked him with on pellet.  The dry air made scenting difficult for Kaiser and we did not find him.  It must have took off running.  He headed to the Rover and headed into town for lunch as my Engel fridge was placed on a higher setting and froze our sandwiches.

Evening Hunt

 
After a horrible Mexican lunch, we headed back to The G.  The parked pickup was no longer there but I wondered if he had blown up all the coveys already.  There was only one way to find out.  We geared up and headed out.  After about a half mile we busted a few singles.  My father managed to connect with one and called us over to help find the bird.  We moved on and a group of four flushed wild.  I managed to hit the right to left crosser at about 30 yards.  Kaiser made the retrieve.  This time it was a male valley.  Continuing on for another quarter of a mile, a cottontail burst out of the sage brush, spooking the hell out of me and I took him with a shot from the modified barrel.  Rabbits are always a fun target, not to mention great eating.  Some of my upland buddies balk at the fact I shoot rabbits but I don't care.  They of course are Lab owners but I have a versatile for a reason.

We moved on finding sporadic birds and rabbits but we were unable to connect with anymore.  Conditions are dry and scenting is difficult for the dog.  While Kaiser was on birds, he managed no points he did have a few unconfident points (one where he points but rather than being stiff as a board, he was wagging his tail).  The birds were flushing wild and all my shoots were over 30 yards.  For this early in the season that is odd.  The birds we took were young and not mature holdovers but they are already wise enough to get out of town.  It appears it's going to be a tough season.
Looks like this guy is feeding on seeds and greens.
 

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