For a Bird Dog person nothing beats seeing a dog on point especially if its yours.There is something mesmerizing about it,For few seconds seems everything freezes for a few seconds before the Covey flush,You seem to be in slow motion as you move past the dogs.It’s a beautiful thing.The back drops are not to shabby also, especially down here in the Arizona Desert.The Dogs obviously love its do the Hunters and regardless of the Breed there is something cool about watching a dog do what it has been bred to do.
I can’t think of a more picturesque place to hunt Quail than right here in Arizona.Luck Us !yThe landscapes are breathtaking and the Gambels,Mearns and Scaled Quail are pretty darn photogenic in their own right also.Right now there is snow up on the mountains and due to all the rain most of the little creeks are running.Longtime Arizona Quail Hunters say it reminds the of the winter conditions in the 80’s and 90’s well before the ‘big drought ” that has plagued the State for the last several years.With all the moisture we have been receiving comes a lot of optimism for ‘next season”.Will it be a banner year ? who knows but it certainly is shaping up to be a much added improvement for The Gambels and Scaled Quail.A lot of fingers are crossed.
With The Arizona Mearns Quail Season set to open on Friday December 6th we have a little excitement in the air here in beautiful downtown Patagonia AZ A.K.A.- Mearns Quail H.Q. of the World.The word on the street is Mearns #’s are spotty at best.For those looking for the ultimate shoot’em up Hunt this won’t be it.Birds will be hard earned.
Crush pointing Mearns Quail
On that note here are a few things to consider which will enhance Your Arizona Mearns Quail Hunting experience.
Don’t be an Asshole
By hunting ontop of other hunters.If someone is in “your spot” leave and find a new spot.Most Hunters I know roll with the first one there gets the right of way.Sometimes things happen namely running into other Hunters and their dogs, the unwritten rule is to turn around or head off in another direction and avoid contact.
Pick Up Your Shells
For whatever reason some of us out there feel that shotgun shells don’t count as litter, therefore it’s Ok to leave them scattered all over the countryside.Well here in the Grand Canyon State leaving your shotgun shells on the ground is littering and you could be fined for it.It also makes the rest of us (hunters ) look bad to the non -hunting public.
Pick Up Garbage
If you really want to impress the Quail Gods via good “karma ” pick up garbage as you walk along.This also includes the shells that some dickhead left on the ground.
Leave Gates how you found them
This is ranching country so there are Cows that sometimes think the grass is greener in the next pasture.But thats up to the Rancher to decide not Hunters or Cows for that matter.Leaving gates open when they should be closed is a big no no.
Skirt Around Cows.
As the season progresses a lot of the Cows will be “Calfing” Its best to stay away from them so you don’t piss off Mother Cows.Move around them, also don’t let your Dogs chase Cows.
Enjoy Your time here.
Mearns Country is a very remarkable place that a lot of Folks don’t ever get the chance to see.Enjoy the views and the people that call this amazing area home.
Support Southern Arizona Quail Forever.
S.A.Q.F. has been going hard to help Quail and Quail Hunters.If you are not member maybe you should join ? or throw them a few bucks for the good things they do to help you have a better Experience.Click Here.
Be an Ethical Hunter
There is a lot of folks preaching hunting ethics,however they vary.Simply obey the law by adhering to bag and possession limits, shooting times etc.The Arizona Game and Fish Department is the go to source for all that info via The State of Arizona Hunting Regulations.
Mearns Quail Hunting is tight and fast shooting requiring open choked guns
With the variety of Quail we have and the different habitats that they are found in I.M.H.O. requires different chokes to meet the challenge of Hunting Quail in Arizona.A tightly choked gun might be ok for Scaled and to some extent Gambels Quail but could be a disadvantage hunting Mearns Quail.
Mearns Quail Hunting
Mearns Quail hunting is usually in tight cover where the birds have a tendency to fly behind trees quickly which requires a more open choked gun.For Arizona Mearns Quail hunting I like a gun that is choked Cylinder and Skeet,and shoot 7.5 shot out of the first barrel and sometimes a #7 shot out of the second.The first shot is open and although the 2nd barrel is also open its still a little tighter than the first shot as generally the 2nd shot is a little longer therefore I want a tighter pattern -but not by much !
My designated Mearns Guns are ether 16 gauge or 20 gauge SxS’s and all weigh less than 6 lbs.
Crush Points a Covey of Scaled Quail
Of course I could and sometimes do use the same guns for Gambels and Scaled Quail Hunting which generally takes place in more open country but I prefer or I am more confident with a tighter choked gun plus its a good reason to justify purchasing more shotguns.
One of My go to Scaled Quail Guns a 12 gauge (or Bore) Sidelock
For Scaled and Gambels Quail the guns I have 2 12 Gauge SxS’s that are both choked Skeet and Light Modified.My “Travel Gun” is a little AYA 20 Gauge that I had choke tubes installed I use the same choke configuration in this gun.Although some may think that a 12 Gauge is overkill however both guns weigh under 6.5 lbs and pattern well when shooting 1 1/16 oz loads.Both Scaled Quail and Gambels Quail are extremely tough birds and I find shooting a 12 Gauge flat out drops and kills them, probably because of the larger shot pattern.So its a confidence thing based around my shitty shooting skills and I want don’t want to be burning up precious dog energy looking for cripples.
Arizona Scaled Quail
The Loads I use for Arizona Quail Hunting are 7.5 and 7 for Mearns.For Scaled and Gambels Quail I shoot a #7 followed by a #6.Out of a 16 Gauge gun the loads are 1 oz, for the 12 Gauge guns they are 1oz -1 1/16 oz and out of my 20 Gauge im shooting 7/8th oz loads.This choke and shot configuration seems to work great for me and the guns I’m shooting.Give it a go see how it works for you.
It’s good to be home in Arizona.With that comes a lot of preparation for the up and coming season which equates to driving around the S.E. Corner of the State and doing ‘Taste Tests” better known as Scouting which entails running dogs and seeing what is out there.
Sunny pointing Scaled Quail
Other areas of the State might be better off for Gambels Quail however the claim to fame to this area is the 3 Species that we can hunt which are Mearns,Gambels and Scaled Quail.
Due to really shitty scenting conditions,It’s been day to day,I’m encouraged on the “good “days when we find them however some days its a lot of walking or armed hiking chasing Birds that easily disappear.My observation is we a getting or harvesting young of the year Birds which is always a good sign.Its been hot and dry therefore when we get some rain this week conditions will drastically improve.
Young of the Year Scaled Quail
Mearns Quail Diggings
Kate is backed by Belle and Crush as BooBoo gets ready to go in to flush
With all the choices in shotguns that are out there it seems the guns that really draw the ultimate in “sexy’ comments are side by sides shotguns.A few reasons for this are they are the original game guns as SxS’s and have been around a lot longer than any other model of shot gun except maybe the single shot.
That ads an element of tradition for those partaking in a sport that is steeped in.A lot of Doubleguns that are out there and being used by hunters come from an era when shotgun manufacturing was done by hand, with very little machining so there is a high degree of craftsmanship which is easily displayed on older guns regardless of price.Weight is another issue, for the most part a lot of SxS’s weigh less than their modern counterparts(Auto’s,Pumps and O/U’s )making then easier to carry and faster to shoulder while in the field.
Price wise you can spend a small fortune or not.Have look around on the Interweb there are plenty of decent guns out there for under $3K.
A fun way to make excuses to yourself for purchasing old or new SxS Shotguns is to pick a manufacture or a country of origin.My early endeavors where focused on British guns.Afterall The U.K. is the birth place of all things shotguns so I ran with that, and after buying and selling a few I comfortable in owning two British 16 gauge guns and one 12 Bore.
With the exception of the 12 (an E Greeley and Son circa 1910) which cost $3500 the other guns where purchased for around $2500.
A budding collector can go on a early American Shotgun theme,chasing the old Parkers,Fox’s and Ithica’s or choose to collect guns from other countries such as Spain,Italy,Belgium and Germany.
All are great guns and well worth the chase.For those that are looking for affordable new Shotguns check out the Turkish built guns brought in by CZ USA
You don’t have to break the bank when you are looking to buy a SxS but you may have to justify your purchase to the higher authority.A few ways you can do this are by explaining that it is an apprciating investment,a bolder move would be to explain that you need that gun for certain style of hunting because your existing guns do not have the right chokes.A shotgun sludge fund is also another great way to save and get a new to you gun inside the house, providing that no one knows how many guns you currently own.Have fun with it and enjoy!