With a busy weekend ahead and one more week of school before Christmas break, I opted to stay in town and see how the desert looked. I had not been after quail since opening weekend and as I entered the dry wash and rumbled my way to the spot, I pondered how broken up many of the coveys would be. The season has been open for going on three months and often at this point many of the birds are so skittish it can be difficult to get into range. As I parked the truck and and gulped down the last of my coffee, I could not hear a single bird calling. With this less than advantageous start, I began slowly picking my way through cat-claw and palo verde trees, and as the sun began to peak over the hills, the birds slowly started to wake up. Even though I located many different coveys, the birds were definitely on edge and I had to take great care in moving slowly and quietly in order to begin closing the gap.
The morning ended with several birds in the game bag and more than a few miles put on the boots. It was pleasant wandering through a familiar area and checking on the usual spots. There was a considerable amount of water in the several springs that I checked and there were plenty of birds in the desert.
Even though fly fishing has quickly taken over my life and thoughts, chasing quail around the desert is very rewarding. Without a bird dog, my mornings usually consist of locating a vocal covey, stalking in to an acceptable distance, and then letting it rip. After breaking up a covey, I visually follow their flight path and make haste to catch up. After one or two times of this, the birds tend to get real quiet and during these brief intermissions, I enjoy the moment and usually have a seat in the shade while the quail catch their breath. The desert can be extremely beautiful during these restful moments.
This serenity is generally forgotten as I mistakenly blunder my way through a patch of jumping cactus, hence the reason I carry tweezers in my bird vest.
I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who once said, “A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.” Now, in no way do I consider myself exceptionally strong and I do like a good football game, but I think Jefferson was definitely on to something.