Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quail Hunt 2010

One of the things I've wanted to do for the longest time was get into hunting and I started this year. I was able to get into the  butt end of dove season, but there wasn't a single dove in sight the two times I went out, so I waited eagerly for quail season to begin. Let me tell you, the 9 days it took for quail season to open seemed like FOREVER! But the day came and I joined my friend Jen in Yerington for what was supposed to be a morning quail hunt that turned into a two day adventure.

Yerington is a nice little farm town an hour and a half away from me. I love it out there and have no problems going out there because it's great! I left the house at 6:30 and got to Jen's around 8:15 because of a little bit of morning traffic. She just got back from taking her kids to school and we transferred the shotguns to her car and headed out to hunt. Our hopes were high. When we got out, we saw another truck of guys and they were going in a different direction. We made the mistake of not getting bug spray, of course we didn't know we needed any. After an hour or so of getting attacked by mosquitos and remembering the dozens of West Nile Virus warning signs we saw when we first came in, we left to get bug spray and returned.

Ready to hunt with my little partner, Lulu, the hunting pug or Bird Dog Lu. 

Upon our return, we tried another spot. First, I saw something big dart out a little ways away and said it's either a coyote or a deer. Not too much longer, we saw it was in fact a deer. A nice sized plump doe who had that "deer caught in headlights" look when it saw us and then boinked away into the distance. We kept thinking what a great thing it would be to have a deer tag there and then. We heard the distinct "ooo-hoo-hoo" sound of quail and followed it until we came across some. It started with one. It flew up out of the sage brush and I took a shot at it. Missed. My one shot resulted in a coven of at least 40 quail to fly up ahead of us. We followed them into some thick brush until we got to an irrigation ditch. In order to get to the quail, we would have to jump the ditch. This was a rather interesting task. We could easily step into the water and cross, or we could literally jump. Being women, we decided it would be best to not get our socks wet and walk around in sopping wet shoes, so we unloaded our shotguns and crossed. I jumped across first with Lulu in hand, then Jen passed me the shotguns and followed. We reloaded and headed back to our pursuit of quail. Apparently they wised up because they weren't coming out for anything. After about an hour or so of no quail, we decided to call it a day and go get some lunch.

The irrigation ditch we had to hop.

Following lunch, we returned to Jen's home and I spent a nice deal of time with her older kids who are home schooled playing Rock Band. This has inspired me to use some money and invest in an XBox for the sole purpose of getting Rock Band. I like the drums and singing. I can't do the guitar to save my life. I had the famous "chipotledillas" for dinner and they are super awesome. Although I don't eat spicy foods enough to remember the detrimental effects they have on me. Basically, my DrPepper plus the chipotledilla was the formula to create the gnarliest gas bubbles causing me such sever stomach pains, I was just doubled over for the evening. * Note: Despite gas, I will totally eat them again because they're that awesome because gas goes away. The memories of chipoltedillas last forever! The evening ended with me deciding to stay another night and Jesse was going to have a "guy night" with Charlie and go get dinner and hang out and have some quality father/son time. Which is completely hilarious to me that I'm out hunting with the girls and Jesse's home having dinner with Charlie. Hopefully when he's older, Charlie will be going on father/son hunting trips to learn man-stuff while I stay home and get dinner with the girls. Our night ended with watching the movie Serenity which is like a post-apocalyptic space western zombie movie. I know, right!? That is a lot to put into one movie, but it works! And I am definitely going to watch Firefly now, which was the TV series that existed before the movie which inspired it, so says Jen and her kids, all with wide eyes and enthusiasm; her oldest son in his Jayne Cobb hat. Love the nerd factor. They snagged me in on it!

So a few things that I did not mention were that Jen's husband was out trying to find chukar while we were out looking for quail. He gave us a hard time about not shooting any quail when we got back, in good humor of course. When he returned, he asked us where we found them, Jen drew a map, and he went out in search of them. I kept going on about how I'd be so mad if he got one because those were OUR quail. I was plotting revenge, luckily, he didn't get any quail either so it all worked out in the end.

Tuesday was the final day of our quail hunt. We went back out and they were further back. It was back across the irrigation ditch and walking around trying to find them. I stumbled upon them and took a few shots but no luck. Jen and I left for lunch, returning in separate cars so I could head home when she had to get her girls from school. We parked the cars and within less than 10 minutes of leaving the cars, one lone quail flew out of the sage brush. I took a shot at him and missed. He was still within my range and I took a second shot and he went down. It was quite possibly one of the most exciting things I've ever experienced. I told Jen she could take Lulu and look for more quail while I get my bird.

Lulu hears some quail.

But I didn't get the bird. Maybe it was stunned and came back to and ran off when it landed. Maybe I wasn't checking far enough out, or maybe I was checking too far out. Maybe it didn't help that every sage brush looked the same. Whatever the case was, I spent over 2 hours looking for a bird that was not there. I spent more time looking for the bird once it was down than I did when it was alive trying to find a bird to shoot. The most baffling part was that I could see my car the whole time and I was wondering what the heck happened to the bird. I kept searching for it long after Jen went to get the girls and finally I just gave up. I figured if its down, someone will be getting dinner tonight, just not me. And if it was stunned and walked away, I'll get him next time.

The bitter look of defeat. Not finding my quail and giving up.
Anyway, I learned a few things from this trip. First and foremost, hunting is a lot harder than shooting clays. It's hard to focus on a bird to shoot when there are more than one in front of you. It's hard to focus on something that blends in with the environment around it. Even if it does go down, it's hard to find something when it blends in with it's environment. However, I did learn that I can shoot a bird if presented with an opportunity to do so. Despite the fact my Remington 870 Wingmaster is a pre-1986 model with no choke and an 18"  barrel and people laugh when I tell them I'm using it for hunting, I learned that it is a pretty comfortable gun to have to haul around thick brush because of it's size. I also discovered that despite where I'm going, bug spray will be with me at all times. Lulu is great at flushing quail. I wish I had a hat with a camera on it. I had a lot of fun. While I love fishing, I love eating birds more and I am so all about hunting now and trying to plot out my next hunting trip. I'm thinking probably some weekend after Halloween.

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