Saturday was the opener for both pheasant and quail here in Colorado so I gave Goliath the day off and headed out with some good friends of mine to see what we could scare up. We hit the road about quarter to 5 and got to my friends property right about 7. There was a big group of hunters pushing the field right next to his property and we hoped they were pushing birds into our field.
Guns at ready, we headed out along a low row of trees. We could hear birds cackling in just about every direction but we made our first pass with nothing to show for it. We paused briefly at the tree line that marked the edge of his property to plan the next pass and then I took one more step toward a small clump of bushes and suddenly there was a flurry of wings. "Quail!" I shouted, and fired a shot, bringing down my first bobwhite ever. I was too focused on the bird that dropped and whiffed my second barrel but my companions managed to bring down two more. We certainly weren't expecting that but it was a great way to start the morning!
We pushed the edge of the property without seeing anything but heard occasional cackles below us so we turned that way. We set up to push a small area of thicker cover and flushed a hen pheasant, our first look at a pheasant for the day, so we were encouraged. We sent a couple of the guys to the other end of some thicker cover to try another push and they flushed a rooster. Both were using shotguns more designed for self-defense then hunting though and their effective range was probably less than 20 feet. That rooster got away scott free.
The whole group made it back near the road with no more flushes. We decided to move back toward the other end of the field when suddenly we hit the motherload! First one rooster got up, then a few hens, and then like popcorn birds were coming up all around us! Unfortunately I was at the far end of that cover and the birds were angling away from me. I took a few shots but the nothing fell. The group had managed only one rooster but we sure had fun shooting at them all!
We reloaded and regrouped before finishing off that patch and right at the end one more rooster flushed. Two of us shot and the rooster dropped. Our second for the day!
We headed in the direction that the large group had flown and pressured a couple more into the air. Lucky for them none of us are very good shots! One daring rooster flew down the entire line offering each one of us a broadside shot at 20 yards and STILL got away!
Before we knew it we were back at the corner where we'd originally flushed the quail and from another small patch of cover a single flushed. No one took a shot at that one but one friend said, "If there's one theres gotta be more!" and went off kicking the brush. Sure enough another small covey busted and I swung around and fired dropping my second bobwhite of the day!
By that time we'd marched quite a bit and headed back to the truck for some brunch. After some great food at a tiny cafe we headed back to the field. 4 hens greeted us by flushing right as we pulled up! We pushed the opposite end of the field and got a few more flushes. I dropped another rooster and despite our best efforts for 30~45 minutes we couldn't find him. I really wish we'd had a dog with us as I hate losing birds! Very disappointing.
A long walk and only one more flush later and the group was pretty much spent. I could hunt all day but getting up at 4 in the morning was pretty taxing for the majority of our party. We did try and push one small pivot corner on our way home but it was pretty obvious our group's heart wasn't in it so we called it a day and headed home.
Fortunately, one of the guys I was out with is my hawking buddy and we decided we had enough daylight left to try for a bunny! His bird was kind of a butthead but put in a couple good chases before finally tying one up against a fence. So we ended the day with 4 quail, 2 pheasants, and a bunny in the bag.
Not a bad day of small gaming!!
On Friday I leave to Kansas for another weekend of gunning for pheasants. On Sunday the North American Falconer's Association annual national meet begins in Kansas as well so I will spend Sunday through Wednesday hawking before returning home for Thanksgiving day, filling up on turkey, and then leaving on Friday for a late season elk hunt.
Life is good.
(Many, many, many, thanks to my wife for putting up with these adventures! I love you honey!)