Here are a few pics from 2018.Once again I am grateful to be able to enjoy a variety of Landscapes while either Fly-Fishing or Bird Hunting.Bot hare fantastic sports that provide the participants a means of escape from the day to day grind.I sincerely hope you enjoy them and I wish you the best in 2019.Cheers !
Bird Hunting Zen
This Arizona Quail Season will go down as poor for Desert Quail (Gambels and Scaled ) and ok but spotty for Mearns Quail.This is due to poor winter rains which Gambels and to some extent Scaled Quail rely on.The Summer or Monsoon Rains where overall ok which translates into another year of The Mearns Quail .Decent in some places not so in others.But thats hunting.Perhaps a more realistic Mearns year than what we have experienced in seasons past.So what to do ?Get outside and play of course ! I can’t think of a better place to do that.Afterall Hunting is the excuse to get you out there so take it in Amigos.
With our Saskatchewan Bird Hunting Season over it’s time to post a few pics from there.We where kinda busy hence the delay.The beauty is in the moment and a pic is the next best thing to being there ! Enjoy !
About this time every year I post something about Huns.Usually its on a day off when I can kick back and reflect on the days that have slipped passed since arriving in Saskatchewan.
What excites me is watching the Dogs get their head back into the game… quickly.It sees the experienced dogs remember how to deal with Huns, running big then cautiously slowing down as soon as they catch scent, the less expereinced blow through the coveys a couple of times then figure out that Huns cannot be pushed.
The country is huge, subsequently some days are compared to “searching for a needle in a haystack” Pointing Dogs work best,flushers will get the job done especially on road Coveys.Hunters need to cover the miles sometimes for little or no reward.
Huns are notorious for screwing over Hunters.the last couple of days we watched dogs point and relocate for over 50 yards only for the birds to blow up behind the dog.On another find the birds ran and flushed 30 yards out from the dog making for some long 40 yard shots.Then there is the speed at which Hungarian Partridge fly which is right around 40 MPH,twice as fast as any quail.I never seen anyone “miss” because they did not lead the birds.
You need to put the time in to be rewarded with tight holding birds which does happen.
Ask any Hun enthusiast why he or she pursues these great game birds and chances are the answer is all of the above.Bottomline is they are an underrated Quarry that inhabits some pretty cool landscapes,most notably the Northern Plains.
Our Arizona Quail Season will go down in the History Books as tough but rewarding.When it ended I needed to get out of Dodge and chill out with just my four legged Amigos.I always had it in for the Trans Pecos area of West Texas,maybe it has something to do with watching “No Country For Oldmen” to many times or rumors of great Blue Quail Hunting …knowing what I know about myself (which is not much) it was a combo of the two. I made a call out to Ryan O’Shaughnessy owner of West Texas Quail Outfitters based out of Alpine Texas.Ryan was very gracious about sharing his intel and made the intro to Bill Miller owner of the Historic 30,000 acre CE Miller Ranch near Valentine Texas.
Bill’s Ranch had everything I was looking for,lots of room to maneuver along with enough Blue Quail to keep things interesting.For two days the dogs and I hit it as hard as we wanted,despite the 70+ degree temps we always found plenty of birds on our loops, classic “Cat and Mouse” Blue Quail Hunting with Covey’s ranging from 15 -50 Birds.It was a prefect way to shut down my Quail Season.At end of the two days that we hunted, dog’s pads where raw and they where tired,I’m still pulling cactus thorns out of my leg’s.Perfect.Until next season!
A lot of recent Mearns Quail Hunting Reports would make for good Country and Western Songs.Other reports are a lot more up beat.The reality is the Sonoran Desert is not an easy place to Bird Hunt,Conditions are tough on both Hunters and Dogs yet some folks dont get that.Most will admit that Opening day was tough,I was going into previously scouted Canyons only to have unproductive points… a humbling experience.then on the last loop of the day “Patch”had 3 covey finds in 45 minutes. . .go figure.
So what was going on ? How about hot dry weather coupled with lack of rain = piss poor scenting conditions.Some Say lack of Birds is to play but both realistically and biologically the birds are there,afterall the Monsoon rains came and went with normal to above normal amounts of percip.Maybe a bumper year never happened because the rains ended early ? who knows,the Jury is still out.Covey sizes generally seem healthy averaging 10 birds ,yet some folks feel they are light in numbers ?We are not dealing with tight holding Mearns Quail as stated in the brochure, instead they have traded in their Loafers for Running Shoes and are moving away from the threat via running,so perhaps hunters are getting up bits and pieces of coveys.
The recent rain helped out a lot with all the Mearns finding problems,which of course means dogs could now point then track or relocate to the running birds.The Hunting Pressure has also diminished as a lot of info out on the Interweb states that the hunting is tough.We like that.It keeps the Instant Gratification Hunters away leaving more space for the true “all about the experience”Hunters.Over the last few seasons Mearns Hunters have been spoiled,expectations have been set way to high and anyone that has hunted Mearns Quail long enough will tell that a 6-8 covey day is the norm,anything above that is a bonus.The lack of rain in future forecasts also means scenting conditions will return to tough.Steve Hopkins a long time Arizona Quail Hunting Guide stated that “if there is not frost on your windshield in the AM you are going to be working for them”, he’s right as the frost is an indicator of how much humidity is in the air.
Without going to off track a myth that is also floating out there in Cyber Land is that somehow “that hunting is an additive to negative Mearns Quail Reproduction” this myth is blown away by any Biologist.Better than that Born and Raised Patagonia Resident Bob Morrietta put it to me this way “If it rains we have birds,If it doesn’t we don’t know matter how many birds are harvested ” I’ll take Bob’s wisdom over anyone else’s any day of the week. Unlike some of the Mearns Experts that live elsewhere Bob is engaged in all things happening in Mearns Land via stringing fences,working cows and following his Shorthairs.He knows.Bob’s thoughts on this season are “the Mearns are out there,but maybe not as good as the last couple of years but its still pretty good.He’s Right.
So there you have it my bird hunting friends,the skinny on whats going on.Keep your fingers crossed for rain and cooler temps and in the meantime tighten up your boots, put on your big boy or girl underwear, enjoy yourself and savor the moment.