View Full Version : Second Day of Quail Season...

10-17-2011, 1:15 PM
The day of the opener was a long day for me. The NAS Lemoore Air Show was going on and my girlfriend wanted to go. She had to work that morning so she went to work. While she was at work, I ran down to the river in an attempt to "possibly" jump shoot a duck or 2 (I'm in Kings County...its cool). She left work an hour early, came home, then off to the air show we went. That evening the neighbor boy, Brennan, came over bragging about the 9 Valley Quail he'd gotten in a short period of time. I called total BS on him but he had the birds to back him up. We made plans to go out the next morning...

The following morning we (Brennan, my friend Ryan, and I) left the house about 0500 hours. After a stop at the gas station for coffee and a top off, we drove the 45 minutes to get to where we were going (North of Coalinga). We got there at daybreak and started our hunt. After about an hour of walking (over road, up hills, down hills) and only flushing one covey of roughly 5 quail, we made the walk back to the truck. Once back at the truck we looked at the area we were in (via smartphones and google maps) and started driving elsewhere to look for birds. We came upon another spot, which looked promising, but after spending another hour there decided we were going to go find a new place to look.

Our new direction took us to Curry Mountain BLM area. It is sad to say, but I will probably not be going back there. It is nearly a vertical climb, and I didn't see any birds. I did hear them across the valley, but again, it is posted tighter than a ticks taint. After this small venture we headed to the Coalinga Mineral Springs. There is a sign there that appears to say NO HUNTING, NO SHOOTING, but it is so full of bullet and pellet holes, when combined with the fading metal, is nearly illegible. On the way out of the Mineral Springs we did get 1 quail. It was downed when it flew in front of a 2010 Chevy Silverado. There were approximately 8 others in that covey, with one whom Darwin gave an award to.

After stopping at Subway for lunch, we decided we would return to the area at which we began our day. After driving many dirt roads for over two hours, we finally got a glimmer of hope on our way back to the main highway. We saw a good dozen or so quail running down a dirt road, adjacent to the one on which we were traveling, in the opposite direction. We got to the next intersection and turned down the road on which we spotted quail. We parked the truck, loaded up, and off we went.

We walked roughly 15 yards when a small group, 6 or so, jumped up in front of us. Brennan and Ryan both emptied their guns while I did not take a shot (I didn't take a shot because I was shooting Improved Cylinder and they were shooting Modified Cylinders). Brennan missed his shot and Ryan dropped one bird with his first shot. Ryan didn't mark his bird after his shot and continued with his second and third shots. After the shooting ceased Ryan began to look for his bird. Brennan and I helped him look for about 5 minutes before I used the occassion as a teaching opportunity. I explained to Ryan (whom is self-admittingly a terrible shot) about marking and selecting his shots. When you shoot a bird, stop shooting. Walk to where it is, then continue shooting. You use less shells and bag more birds this way was the basis of the lecture.

After a few more minutes, Brennan and I continued up the valley, leaving Ryan to find his bird. Brennan and I spot a single quail perched atop a large piece of brush. Brennan started getting excited and wanted to shoot that quail from where he was. He definitely had enough gun to do so, but would have no angle for follow up shots, if necessary. I told him to stay put while I gained an angle of attack that would accentuate what he was going to accomplish.

While I maneuvered around, I saw there were LOTS more quail in that brush. Once I was in position I gave the signal to fire. Brennan fired and a covey, and I swear I am NOT making this up) of 80-100 birds jumped up out of the brush. We both unloaded our guns, both dropping 3 birds. We reloaded while walking up to pick up our birds (all conveniently dropped within 10 feet of one another). Brennan had slung his gun over his shoulder so he had no chance at what happened next. A smaller group (from the same covey) ran, then flushed in front of me. At the break point where their feet left the ground, I let loose 1 1/8 oz of 7.5 lead shot, traveling at 1375 feet per second, resulting in a drop of 4 birds. I wish I were making this up, but somebody else was there and watched it happen.

After we picked up the birds, Ryan caught up. He had been behind for some time now and returned empty handed. I asked if he learned something. He told me "Yeah...these bushes are thick" and followed that he should be more selective of his shots and take his time.

The three of us continued up the draw that the covey had flown into. I watch Ryan as he continued to miss shots, but could see he was trying to be more selective of them. Ryan was soon out of shells and began "borrowing" shells from Brennan and me (we all brought 1 box from the truck). We wanted him to have a good time and feel like he contributed to the slaughter of which I will post a picture of later. After the borrowing and running out of shells, we stopped and counted the number of birds we had in the bag. With 1 that Ryan had shot, we had 19 total birds, including the 1 hit by the truck. Had we brought more shells with us on our walk, we would've continued up the valley another few hundred yards, which we will speculate would've ended in 3 limits of quail.

We went back to the truck and headed home. While Ryan transferred his stuff from my truck to his, Brennan and I discussed letting him have some of the quail. I chose 2 roosters from the bunch to freeze whole for the taxidermist because all the hens we shot looked pretty beat up. I got a plastic grocery sack from the house and put 8 birds into it. This is what we sent Ryan home with. I gave my elderly neighbors 4 birds and cleaned/froze the remainder.

It was a day which started grim, but ended up good. I was able to mentor to a person in my age group about being a good steward of the land (picking up hulls), give some advice on wingshooting, and spend the day with friends.

I'll post a picture later of the birds all laid out. I hope you enjoyed the write up.