1st Annual Women' Gambel's Quail Group Hunt December 2021
"Here I am back from the First Women's Gambel's Quail Hunt organized by the Valley of the Sun Quail Forever chapter in Phoenix and I am still dreaming about it! What an awesome inspiring and educational event!
Together with several other ladies I got to spend two nights at the Horseshoe Ranch by Cordes Junction, AZ and got an immersion in the finesse of quailhunting with a dog. For the first time I experienced a hunt for wild birds with seasoned dogs and learn how you work together with them as a team. My mind is just blown, by how different this style of hunting is compared to going without a dog! It is easier as far as you can cover more terrain and do not have to pay such close attention to possible birds hiding close to you. But it is way more demanding when you have to pay constant attention to your hunting partner (=dog), his signals, his speed and distance and also his welfare.
We saw several coveys of quail and some ladies even managed to get some shots of. But the highlight was definitely watching our canine athletes cover mile after mile seemingly tirelessly led by their nose and their desire to find wild birds. And it is highly addictive, when you try to keep up with a four-legged tracking machine who can cover rocks, ditches and brush without hesitation while you are stumbling over every obstacle, weighed down by all your gear and carrying a shotgun. But all the effort is forgotten the moment you see the tell-tale sign of a dog on point and you now have to follow where their nose is showing you and you hear the typical "ppppfffrrrrr" noise of quail wings lifting out of the bushes!
On our first morning hunt our group (2 ladies, 2 mentors) covered a little over 2 miles...the two dogs however covered 13 and 14 miles respectively!!!! We learned a lot about their individual body language, the gear (vests, booties, GPS collars), the jargon (flagging, staying steady, running big) and about the human handicap of being just tooo slow. In the afternoon our group underwent a rigorous shotgun exercise, that challenged us to shoot under conditions simulated as if we were in the field. It was very difficult, but sooo effective and great fun to top it off (even for the spectators)!
The next morning we got to go out with another team of dogs to solidify our learning and get more exposure to experienced mentors and dogs. Over the course of the weekend, we had the opportunity to see 3 different versatile dog breeds in action, ask our mentors countless questions, covered miles and miles of gorgeous Arizona desert, sit around the campfire listening to stories and bragging tales and form old and new friendships. Many many ideas were exchanged and I am sure that this event will open more avenues for beginner female hunters in Arizona.
To top it off, the food was provided by the Phoenix chapter and members took turn cooking for us. Venison spaghetti, hamburger, bacon and egg and chorizo for breakfast, cake and sandwiches appeared magically from fridges and coolers and the hospitality shown by the organizers was phenomenal. The accommodations in a guesthouse on a former cattle ranch were simple and rustic, but super comfortable (warm showers in a hunting camp?!!). I cannot emphasize enough how grateful I am to the many mentors and organizers from the Phoenix chapter who all volunteered their time and dogs and equipment for us to have this incredible weekend.
I am so hopeful that this event will continue for many years to come and provide mentorship for new ladies hunters. Maybe next year my two dogs will be ready to participate...???? And Yuma Desert Doves Women on the Wing will definitely be a partner of this event (ladies, join us to be a part of this next year!)."
Thank you to Tanja Eiben for her story about our first event!