I’m blogging up here at our cruising altitude and thinking about what I enjoyed the most during our trip to Alabama. Besides the comraderie and fun of traveling with a good friend, I’d have to say that quail hunting tops my list. The trip was full of excellent most manly activities–we began with as fierce a football rivalry as exists anywhere in sports, then spent a day looking at vintage motorcycles and racing cars, then went out shooting sporting clays and deer hunting.
The same people at Great Southern Outdoors Wildlife Plantation kept the manly things coming by taking us on a quail hunt. Here the stars are the dogs…two English short-hair pointers and a hyperactive springer spaniel. Each has a job, and they did it flawlessly.
The guides obtain about 40 quails from a nearby quail farm and then put them into a pillowcase and spin them around. It makes the little birds a bit dizzy and then they place them in selected bushes throughout the course. The area has to be mowed a few times a year so that it’s walkable, yet has all sorts of bushes and places for the quail to hide out. The birds don’t fly away but burrow into hiding places. Then we begin walking, three abreast, holding our shotguns up all of the time.
Ahead of us, the pointers are furiously sniffing and running, and soon they are standing stock still, with their tails out and their noses pointed into a bush. The guide commands them to stay, and they do, as the hunters try and catch up to where they are. Then Josh releases his springer, and the fluffy dog runs right at the bush and roots out the bird. Quickly, it flies up and away, and depending on what direction he flies, that’s the hunter who gets the shot.
Having taken some shots earlier at the clay targets, I got comfortable with the gun, and I was able to bag a few of the birds as they flew. Then the springer sprints over and retrieves the bird. Wherever they land, the dog is sure to find it. She runs delightedly back to her master, and he pries the bird out of her mouth. Walking around in a big wide circle, watching for the point, and then getting that little rush when it’s your turn to shoot–it’s a terrific way to spend a few hours.