High Desert Quail Hunt – Opening Weekend

Well, technically not the weekend for us.  We hunted Friday and Saturday.  I’m not going to say exactly where, but it was high desert… well kinda middle high desert.  It was high enough both mornings I considered grabbing my jacket out of the Jeep.

We didn’t see a ton of birds, but we saw them in a lot of places.  We found lots of covey’s, but most were 8-15 birds.  The biggest coveys we saw were maybe only a little over 30 birds.  My partner said it was like they hadn’t grouped up yet, but it felt to me more like somebody had already been hunting them before the season.  We didn’t see a single big covey of quail.  When we would bust them I’d found myself walking up pairs, and that’s usually when I got my shots.  When I’d flush a pair.  On the second morning when we would bust a covey I found myself walking up singles in new places we hadn’t hunted the day before.  It felt to me like we were hunting birds that had been hunted for weeks already.

There were not a lot of tracks on the trails either.  There were an average of 6-8 sets of wheel tracks including ours on the main “roads” and on some of the more difficult trails there were only one or two.  Of the others out there atleast two were just pre-scouting for deer season.  We spotted them glassing in a few places.  One other pair of hunters we talked with were having about the same luck as us.  A few birds here and there.

It wasn’t like we spent all our time in the Jeep crawling up and down washed out roads or running wash bottoms either.  My partner has an app on his phone that tracks steps.  He said he put in about 22000 steps on day one.  I might have walked a little further.  I was trying to swing wide and catch birds he flushed to the side instead of dead ahead.  Given it was broken terrain they were probably on average a shorter step than around a city park.  If you figure only a 2-1/2 foot average step that’s still over 10 miles of walking up and flushing birds.  It was probably a bit more than that.  On day two we didn’t work that hard and called it early, but we still walked a bit and bagged a few more birds.

We saw lots of critters.  Plenty of deer.  (We only saw one buck.)  A gazillion little desert chipmunks.  A couple brown squirrels.  Coyotes.  Lots and lots of rabbits.  A couple variety of owls, and a fair number of slow elk.  The rabbits didn’t act like they had been hunted.  About half of them ran into the shade of a bush and just sat there.  I could have pistol hunted them with success.

Our shooting was decent.  I took a few shots hoping for the magic BB, but overall I took shots I thought I could hit.  If I count shots I legitimately saw more than a couple feathers fly off I probably hit 80-90% of my shots.  If I only count shots where I recovered my bird it was still about 60% success rate.  My partner dropped a few more birds, but he also burned more ammo, and he was running a fairly hot home load of #6 pellets.  I was using Rio Texas Game Loads pushing #7.5 shot.  The Texas Game Load is not as hot as the old Remington Nitro Express loads were back in the day, but its a little heavier and a little faster than the average dove load.  They did a decent job with a modified choke out of the Remington 870 I bought from Mike Scherz not long after he first opened Gila River Gun Works back in the early 90s.   I haven’t used that gun in many years, but it still shoots good.   My first couple shots on day one (with kills) was using my old Winchester 1200, but I could only find the improved choke for it.  I quickly changed to my backup gun (the 870), because I figured I was going to need a tighter choke.  I’m going to need to chase down some more chokes for that Winchester.  I really like the way to feels when I have to carry it a long way.

The Jeep did good too.  It slow walked every place I needed to slow walk it.  The limited slip worked great.   The one hole I tried to walk where the bumper hit the other side I was able to back right out of just fine.  I was able to wheel hang it on catty corner wheels when I needed to.  Gotta love that limited slip differential.  It just kept going. In fact that hole I mentioned.  I just took it at an angle and floated a couple wheels as I went over it.  That Jeep has stock tires and suspension too.  The only “off road” mod is the front bumper.  It might give marginally more front clearance coming out of a hole or up out of a wash bottom.

To finish up Patti and I had a nice dinner of roasted quail and sweet corn last night.

I went to bed early and slept until almost the regular time I get up the last couple nights.  I haven’t hunted that hard in a very long time.  Today is the first day I might stay up to my regular bed time.

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