So before I forget in the chaos that is duck hunting season (and deer - my husband got his buck this morning! yay!), I really need to share how our first 2011 quail hunting trip went! We typically go across to duck camp the first weekend in October, or shortly after that first weekend depending on what shifts my husband is working. This year was no different, we went late in the week the week after quail hunting opened, and just for one night.
Our purpose in going across to duck camp before duck hunting opens is twofold. One, we set up camp before the rest of the family descends for duck hunting on opening weekend for duck & geese later in the month, and two, we get to quail hunt! I really enjoy going across that first weekend, it gets me back in the camping & hunting swing of things, and I get to relax and enjoy family time with just my husband and Little M (and our pack of dogs of course!) before the rest of his family comes and the camp gets really busy and crazy with many family members, kids, dogs, campers, tents, etc, etc!
Our camping weekend this year was shorter than some, since we are currently working completely different days. While I am easily able to take days off, I was saving time for later in the month (now!) when our friends are visiting to deer & duck hunt, so I just took the friday off. We went across on the Thursday, and the excitement started even before we got all of the way in the dirt road into camp.
It was getting near dark, but still within shooting hours, and as we drove up beside long lake, suddenly my husband slammed the brakes on the truck. I wasn't really paying attention to the road, I was still trying to peer down at the lake and see where the ducks were and how many there were. I realized that there was only one reason we would be stopped THAT quickly, and tried to figure out where he had seen them. The quail, that is!
He hopped out and loaded his shotgun up. I said I would wait this one out, so I went back to lower the tailgate and keep the dogs quiet while he hunted (we release them after the shooting if we are close to the truck). He started walking up the hill beside the road, and all of a sudden quail just started getting up everywhere! He got a couple shots off, and then I decided that I needed in on the action too. If I could get a bird down, it would be my first quail ever!
My husband encouraged me to hurry up as I carefully loaded shells into my gun (borrowed these last 3 falls from his little sister who is off at college in Hawaii). I looked around for quail, but didn't see any. We snuck along the hillside, and some more got up in front of us. I didn't get a shot off, still being too slow and hesitant for these fast flying quail, but he pointed one out that had perched on a big rock partway up the slope. I took aim and pulled the trigger. Nothing. Oops! Better take that safety off. Again, sighted down the barrel to the little quail sitting looking around on the rock. Bang!
And the quail fell down into the srubs and grass below. My husband moved off and got one of his own, and chased the quail for a bit, while I went back and got the two Griffons out of their crates in the back of the truck. Lily, my hunting dog, came with me while Remi headed after my husband.
Lily and I moved in to where I shot my bird. Lily sniffed around, and around, and around, and finally found my bird. I had to act quickly, because once she found it she got it into her mouth, and it was such a small little bird that it just started getting gulped back into her throat! Silly girl, so I grabbed a leg that was sticking out near her teeth and told her to give it, and pulled it out.
My first quail! My husband retrieved his from Remi and we loaded back into the truck to get in to camp and set up camp before it got completely dark.
The next morning we got up and took our time getting ready to head back out and do the rounds looking for more quail. We had several spots where we were going to park the truck and do short hikes around in the fields to look for quail and hungarian partridge. We saw lots of other wildlife - a coyote on the side of the road, hawks migrating through, flocks of sandhill cranes, V's of Canada geese, and assorted duck species, but no quail.
Finally we saw a quail on the edge of the road! We parked the truck and hopped out. We got out into the field, and my husband started moving towards where he had spotted the quail, standing on the lookout beside a large thicket of wild rose bushes. All of a sudden, quail just started pelting out of the thicket, one after another! I got off several shots, but they were at a bad angle moving from right to left in front of me, so I wasn't able to compensate for their speed. I was getting a bit frustrated as I could see my husband dropping bird after bird.
Then a couple got up out of the thicket and flew pretty much straight away from me. Ahah! I shot, and one fell! My first quail out of the air! Hurray! Pretty soon after that there were no more birds in the thicket to scare, so we got the dogs out of the truck and started moving around with them to retrieve the birds we had shot. All told that day we got 10 quail! Not bad for a day's hunting :)
We're off again this weekend to duck camp, and after last weekend (duck opening weekend) where I shot my first duck in the air, I'm eager to keep practicing my shooting skills. With our friends here who love a good sneak in to hard to access jump holes as much as we do, hopefully I will have more chances to get up close and personal with some ducks! Have a great weekend everyone!