Quail hunting is a demanding sport and to succeed at a high level requires excellent vision, acute hearing, cardiovascular fitness, orthopedic health, quick reflexes, knowledge of your quarry and intense concentration. What other sport requires this many attributes? Hunting with your dog adds scenting and ground coverage beyond your capabilities!
Think “EVERY GUN IS LOADED” & NEVER point it in the direction of another person or dog.
Always carry more shells than you think you will need.
Hunt after rainy weather; the second day and a rising barometer are best . Know which of your sites are “water proof” (free of muddy roads).
Hunt a figure of 8 (each on separate loops) with your partner when scouting a new area (most efficient way to cover more ground).
Always look for patterns of bird distribution and habitat (may vary with time of season, time of day, and weather). Note that some areas may always be better at a certain time of day.
Check for foot prints (“chicken ranch sign”) in washes and dusty areas and fresh diggings under trees. Then hunt in concentric circles. They are there somewhere.
Hunt with the wind in your face as much as possible.
Always watch the dog when in the field (for a point or an inadvertent flush).
After flushing a covey and marking the birds down, be prepared for the “short bird” while approaching. When hunting Scalies, look for both the “short bird” and the “long bird.” There may also be a “late riser” at the original covey flush site.
After flushing a covey and marking them down, hunt “the band or zone” horizontally (criss-cross and let your dog work slowly — the “vacuum cleaner”). The zone is approximately 20 yards wide & 40 yards long.
Walk to the point briskly and keep your eyes up on arriving (don’t look for the bird). This will save you a split second.
Trust your dog if he/she is staunch (even if a rabbit breaks, a tweeter flies or you can’t flush the bird). Leave yourself a “shooting lane” when approaching a point.
If a bird flushes between you and your partner and your shooting lane is blocked, holler “yours.” Otherwise, neither of you may shoot, as you are assuming he will shoot and he is assuming you will.
When you or your dog points or flushes a single bird (no covey), hunt in concentric circles for at least 50 yards. The covey may be “salt & peppered” in the vicinity. Newsflash: quail are gregarious and finding a true single is rare.
Always count to ten before breaking your gun, if you have only fired one shot.
After shooting at and apparently missing a bird, continue to watch its flight path as long as possible; It may drop at a greater distance.
If you have downed a bird and cannot find it even with your dog on the ground, search the upper part of the brush (where your dog may not scent it).
Never shoot more than four birds from a covey on a given hunt or more than a third of the covey over the season. Don’t shoot small coveys. Limit your limit!
Stop and twang one of the strands of barbed wire before crossing a fence; be prepared for a flush.
*Hunt the “Golden Hour”
Hunt with the sun to your back at day’s end (they invariably fly into the sun).
Do not rehunt the same area the next day. Generally, allow at least three days for it to rest.
Pick up shells in the field. They are a blight on the environment, a threat to cattle, and it lets others know where birds are...and against the law in Arizona to leave them! (littering!)
It goes without saying, that a dog is an integral member of the team. They will expose you to more opportunities, eliminate bird losses and provide unforgettable moments in the field.
Cornerstone of hunter ethics: never return to a friend’s “honey hole” unless he is with you or has given you permission.
At the vehicle your gun is the last item out on leaving for the field and the first item in on returning.
Make certain your gun is unloaded before putting it in the vehicle (double check).
Always break your gun when near the vehicle or when searching for a downed bird.
When crossing a fence, lay your gun on the ground, then go through or under the fence.