Scaled Quail. My unicorn. The ghost that eludes me.
I’ve had some suspected run-ins with them in the past but I (or the dogs) had never been able to get any of them pinned down. They always seemed to quietly excuse themselves from a good dog’s point. Leaving nothing but broken dreams and tracks in the sand. I never saw or heard them flush. They just vanished. They are known for making men and dogs crazy.
This time, they pulled the same ol’ dirty trick. Two dogs on point, quail tracks everywhere but no birds to flush. They had vanished. Again. Dogs relocated and then moved on, but we kept returning back to the scene and hunting in every direction from that point until we finally pushed them to a point where they were forced to fly. Too many tracks going in every direction to know which way they went. Several more points and relocations ensued. I wasn’t actually expecting the flush because I didn’t know the birds were there. Hide seemed confused as well. However, I did make the mental note that if we did have birds in front of us, this would be their exit. The cover went from sparse grass on a sand dune to a broad stretch of dense but fairway slick, native grasses, thanks to the cows that grazed this pasture during summer.
The unmistakable roaring of wings came from my right. I spun around and began to mount even before I saw them. I picked out one bird and grassed it. The second wave rocketed up at the shot. I picked one, swung, and let the second load of 6’s fly. Too slow.
I still wasn’t sure if I had just shot my first cottontop. Everything was rushed and I didn’t know if it was Bobs or Blues. Hide decided that he was going to retrieve this time. That’s a change of pace! And it usually results in a bird with far fewer feathers by the time I get my hands on it. The one time I don’t want him to retrieve! He scooped it up and brought me our bird. A retrieve even a lab guy would be happy with. Not a feather out of place. I had my first blue!
Scaled quail, aka: Blues, Scalies, Cottontops…runnin’ little devils!
I always wanted to get a few blues mounted, as they really are a gorgeous bird, but these are headed to the freezer. I guess we will have to chase them next year.