One Last Loop

taking it in

I guess it’s very apparent that my outdoor related activities are focused around Fly-Fishing and Bird Hunting.Of course there is a build up of anticipation which leads to the first day of ‘the season” which can be opening day or the day of arrival to a destination.As the season moves forward I get into the “groove” of picking my days of participating in that particular activity.As the season moves towards the finish line because of legal closer or time to go somewhere else I find myself wishing it would never end, at the same time knowing full well it has to. As the finish line draws close,I Fish or Hunt with a sense of urgency knowing full well I’m trying to make up for lost time.The season is going to be over before I know it and don’t want to be thinking to myself I wish I had hunted or fished more.

Betty

It hit like a hammer this year. I was faced with the fast approaching closure of the Arizona Quail Season,which ended Feb.10th.I had cleared my calendar for the final four days.Guide trips where contracted out so I could go for a selfish “walk” with just me and my dogs.I had to ‘power down” from the non stop “powering up” that goes with a busy Guide Season, I needed some space,which is something that Bird Hunting delivers.

Belle checking in

I met my buddy Chad at the Cafe,after a very quick breakfast we headed out to an area that potentially could deliver a slam of the three species of Arizona Quail.Upon our arrival the wind was blowing and the sky was cloudy, scattered showers came and went as we sat it out waiting for the squalls to pass.Our first loop was a bust,after ten minutes we turned back to our trucks,because the w rain was blowing side ways with the wind, making it hard for the dogs to scent and we were getting cold.Chad and I both thought about “calling it good” which still would have been okay as most Hunters look at canceling a day hunting in the Arizona Desert due to rain as a bonus for the following season.Instead we waited,hoping the Squall would pass which it did.

AZ Scenery

We struck out with the same dogs from our botched loop,2 Pointers a Britt and my Lab.Moving fast to cover the open ground then slowing down as we got into “birdy” or heavy cover so the dogs could work it effectively.There were no Bull Shit Prayers for limits and shooting straight, it was “Hail Mary’ all the way!.Getting at it before we got rained out.The dogs pointed, we shot our SxS’s,birds where retrieved our collective spirits where lifted,we even lucked out scoring one more covey heading back towards the trucks.

A Hen Mearns Quail

The rain started again and we waited.Both the rain and wind intensified but there was glimmers of hope to the south and north in the form of the front breaking up.We continued to wait.slowly we began to feel sorry for ourselves we commented on how Mother Nature was screwing us over but sure enough we caught a lucky break as the front blew over us and the wind died down.Millie,Belle and Betty where wired up with tracking and locate(beeper) collars and off we went for the final loop of the season.

Male Mearns Quail

We Struck out into some Gambels Habitat with high hopes of still achieving a slam,which was no bueno.The Dogs sensed the urgency as the two Pointers Belle and Millie made some big casts while Betty the Brittany cleaned up behind them.We started to get points on Mearns Quail,harvesting a bird here and there in different Canyon mouths.

Chad admiring a couple of Mearns Quail

We continued to weave in and out of side canyons,up and over the walls and dropping into the canyon bottoms.At times a dog or all the dogs would run out of sight up a feeder canyon while I watched the Garmin Astro hoping it would go into Point mode.It did.

Millie Pointing Mearns Quail on the last loop

We wanted to see and count Coveys and did not bother to chase singles,always moving forward after the rise and steering the dogs into likely Quail feeding areas.When the points came the dogs would stack up backing each other then after the Covey rise we would move forward searching for more Coveys.

Chad covers a “Betty” point as Belle and Millie back

We where into the final segment of our Loop,the vehicles where in sight and the dogs pointed again.This time the birds flushed together as a group instead of a popcorn rise which happens when they are spread out feeding.For Chad and I seeing that particular rise indicated that the Quail are either roosting or moving onto the roost for the evening.We called it “good”.Shutting down the final day after moving 8 coveys and witnessing some excellent dog work.A perfect ending to an excellent season.The rain was the bonus for things to come.

4 birds each out of 8 coveys

Author: Dave Brown

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