Gambling on Gambel’s

The footprint of my quarry...

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.

A workingman's gun...

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.

A brief pause...

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.

Standard on any bird chase...

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.

The path...

6 Responses to “Gambling on Gambel’s”

  1. Bill

    Sounds like a good break from that fly fishing addiction that a lot of us seem to have. Nice to see you got into some birds, I hope to do some small game hunting myself shortly. I liked the quote too, very nice post!

  2. bsmith835

    Thank you Bill. I do enjoy how close to town you can go and still get into some birds. I am not as good a shot as I should be, but it’s nice to wander around a different part of Arizona. Good luck to you as you chase small game. Thanks again.


  3. Casey

    Excellent post! Don’t mind if I peruse your site a bit? My wife has family in the Phoenix area and we have been talking about relocating down that way – I’m for the Flagstaff area, though. I think we’re getting tired of the snow…and she has a wicked bad case of rhuematory arthritis, so…

    Anyway – I’m off to look around and thanks!

  4. bsmith835

    Thanks Casey. Glad you found your way to my site. Phoenix is a great area. The summer sucks but from October to May life is great. The fishing and hunting here isn’t bad either. After growing up in PA and NY, I’m just glad to never have to scrape another ice covered windshield again. Next time you’re out this way, definitely shoot me a call and I’d be happy to show you around. Thanks again for stopping in.


  5. daybookexchange

    Quail hunting isn’t really an option here, but by the looks and sounds of things… can make for a fantastic excuse to get out in the desert for a nice walk and some peace. Thats why I enjoy hunting rabbits. A good walk out in paddocks or bush soon makes you forget the daily grind.

  6. bsmith835


    Sounds exactly like quail hunting. Not that I need a good reason to walking around but it is always nice to feel the kick of the old shotgun and smell the gunpowder. I think we’re on the same track.



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