Tag Archives: Scaled Quail

Tracking Quail in Colorado

Gary, Yonder and our QuailThe flu hit me for the 4th December in a row. My son Jesse caught the virus first, followed by me, then my oldest son Ty. The symptoms include severe bronchial congestion, a mucus-filled nose and a high fever for multiple days. Ultimately, bed rest was the only antidote. My fever broke on Sunday afternoon, which gave me hope for a Monday hunt with my friend, Gary Ruppel. A week prior, we planned a quail hunt on Bob’s ranch, and I wanted to make it happen.

I needed the alarm to get me going at 4:30 am. A Mucinex pill as well as a few puffs from my Ventolin inhaler, had my lungs feeling manageable. We had some wet snow fall overnight, and that had turned the roads icy. I took my time on the drive to Gary’s house. An additional 90 minutes had us pulling into Wild Horse around 8 am.

During my big game hunts at the ranch over the fall, I witnessed 4 separate coveys of scaled quail on the land. The numbers in each covey are impressive; holding greater than 30 birds per family group. Moving into the property, I directed Gary to the cottonwood trees that are situated southwest of headquarters. We parked the truck and let Gary’s English Pointers out. Captain, Ashley and Yonder began to work out about 100 yards, then angle back into the stiff northwest wind. They cover a lot of ground in a very short period of time. As we neared a fallen tree, a large covey suddenly scattered in all different directions. The majority of the birds headed to the southwest so we took the dogs in that direction. Our collective pressure forced some the quail into, and around a lone cottonwood tree. Captain locked up on point when the bird’s sent became strongest. One quail jumped from a branch and flew with speed to the east. Just before he was out of range, I sent a single shot from my Weatherby 28 gauge in his direction. The scalie tumbled to the ground. Gary’s dogs were able to quickly locate the injured bird, allowing us to continue to hunt.

We jumped into the truck and headed back to headquarters. There is a lot of structure around the periphery of the compound, and quail were holding up in the thick cover. We decided to leave the dogs in the truck, and see if we could move the covey on our own. We walked to the most obvious spot: a large set of long, metal poles piled about three feet high.   As we approached the stack of iron, the quail started to emerge from their hiding spot. When we got to about 20 yards, they exploded in multiple directions. I missed on my first two easy shots, but managed to connect on the final bird. We let the dogs out so they could do their job. Captain, Ashley and Yonder got on the birds quickly, pointing and pinning the evading quail. It did not take us long to take one half a dozen birds.

We drove to the pasture just across the highway. Just past the gate there is a water tank, and most of the bulls were drinking from it. A windmill marks an area where I had witnessed a covey sheltered amongst a set of cement cylinders. Still 100 yards from the windmill, we stopped the truck to scout the area. Almost as soon as we had stopped the truck, a large covey began teaming out of their concrete protection. We watched them fly southwest, and land over the adjoining hill. We decided to get the dogs out and pursue them. As we crested the hill, Captain, Ashley and Yonder went on point, but the covey flushed wild. They moved north toward the dry creek, and touched down near some abandoned cars. Realizing the quail were taking shelter amongst the broken down automobiles, we headed in that direction. As we approached the vehicles, the dogs locked up quickly, and the action was immediate. Birds started soaring in all directions. I did not shoot as I hoped there were hidden birds that had yet to take flight. Many of the quail had landed in the field just off the creek. We called the dogs over, and directed them to hunt west; into the prevailing wind. Gary and I walked about 20 yards apart, waiting for signs that the quail were present. Similar to a flushing pheasant, individual scalies took flight when they felt pressure caused by our pursuit. Gary and I took these single birds when the shots presented themselves. We hunted our way back to the truck, but only witnessed a few additional quail taking flight too far from the barrels of our shotguns.

I will leave the Cage Ranch quail alone until next hunting season. Hopefully, we will enjoy additional moisture in Colorado that will sustain healthy broods next year.

My Video of a December 2014 Quail Hunt on the Cage Ranch

Friends

I have known legendary gun dog trainer, Gary Ruppel, for almost four years.  My beloved birddog, Pride, comes from his kennel.  When my family was considering adopting Pride in 2010, it was Gary who interviewed us to make certain it was a good match. The man is confident, opinionated, talented, kind, and loyal.  It takes time to earn Gary’s trust and friendship.  It takes even more time to earn the opportunity to hunt with him.

In mid-December, Gary and I were chatting on the telephone about our recent adventures.  I told him that Pride (now 10) was starting to slow down, and he and I should try to get into the field before the 2013 season ends.  I had never hunted with Gary, and I felt that it was finally the right time.  I have evolved into a veteran wingshooter who respects the quarry, the land, and my fellow hunters.  Gary agreed to go, and he suggested we head out after Christmas. 

Our plan, on December 30th, would be to hunt scaled quail on both private and public land outside of Hugo, Colorado.  I had never encountered a covey of quail in numerous upland trips throughout Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas.  To that point, I was excited to pursue the unfamiliar game bird.  Pride would team with Gary’s two English Pointers, Captain and Ashley, who are quail hunting machines. 

During several big game hunts over the last couple of years on the Cage Ranch, I had observed multiple coveys of scalies moving about the property.  With permission from Bob, we started our morning patrolling the different pastures where we thought birds would hold up.  It would be important to locate the game before the day warmed, and diluted the scent of the small animals.  We walked several areas where the cover is thick, and paralleled a food source.  The dogs worked each section of land thoroughly, but never showed any signs of enthusiasm.  As we slowly drove the ranch, Gary would get out of the truck to inspect the one day old snow blanketing parts of the land.  He scouted for the distinctive tracks that would indicate the presence of quail.  

Driving west, we approached a group of cottonwoods adjacent to the road.  As we neared the trees, I pointed to a three grey birds scampering away from our truck.  Gary exclaimed “scalies” and told me to get out.  As I hurried across the road, I loaded my Beretta, and Gary let out the dogs.  The pointers instantly winded the birds and gave chase.  I scanned the earth beneath the trees when suddenly two horned owls took off from their positions in the branches.  The movement startled the camouflaged quail who soared from their concealed location.  I shouldered my shotgun and fired at a single speedy bird that toppled to the ground.  I looked to my right and observed Captain and Ashley on point about fifty yards to the west of the trees.  Gary told me to make my way to him, as the covey was on the move.  Several birds exploded from the knee-high grass, and Gary shot two with his 20 gauge Winchester.  I remained in my position as Gary brought the dogs around.  We estimated that there were over twenty quail in the covey, and some had already fled to our north.  Moving with purpose and determination, Captain and Ashely located additional birds.  One quail jetted from my right at about thirty yards, and I shot him dead.  My execution prompted a sincere congratulations from Gary.  Admittedly, that felt pretty good.  Before continuing our hunt, Gary asked how many birds we had taken.  We counted seven and decided to stop shooting.  Captain and Ashley were still in hot pursuit, so we lowered our shotguns and admired their elegant skills.  We tried a few other areas before heading back home just after lunch. 

As a passionate and improving hunter, I appreciate the time Gary spends teaching me the nuances of the sport.   The sage advice has, and continues to impact my success in the field.  I look forward to spending more time with my friend.

Reviews

Product

Review

Sport-DOG Upland Hunter 1875

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/unlucky-lucky/

HEVI-Shot   Pheasant

Number 4 shot is   overkill for quail.  Unfortunately, I   forgot to pack my number 6 shot.  Birds   went down, and went down hard.

Uplanders Warehouse

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/shot/

Hankook Dynapro ATM

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/shot/

SportDOG Nutrition

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/shot/

Beretta A400 XPLR Light, 12 gauge

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/my-2012-2013-season-ends/

Badlands Birdvest

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/my-2012-2013-season-ends/

Garmin Oregon 450T GPS

&

Hunting GPS Maps

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/bobs-day/

Ram 1500

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/bobs-day/

Cabela’s Active Lite Jacket

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/page/2/

Irish Setter Upland DSS King Toe Hunting Boots

See http://www.huntfishgolfwork.com/my-2012-2013-season-ends/

 

 

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