Last weekend was the first weekend of quail season in New Mexico. A and I got out and checked for a couple of coveys we'd seen earlier in the year. We didn't find those birds, but drove and walked and, eventually, put up 4 coveys. One of those was only a few birds and got a pass, but the others were decent coveys of a dozen or more.
We lost the better part of one covey after they flushed, then ran, peeling out of the group until you're left chasing 1 or 2 birds (a desert quail specialty). After that we swung back through the area where they had first broken up hoping to find some singles or the rest of the covey. A pair got up and I dropped one a ways out. Booker had it marked and started a nice retrieve, then, on his way back, kicked up another couple of birds only ten yards away. Thinking we had a bird in hand, I shot one of those as well. Unfortunately, finding the bird is more fun than bringing it all the way back to hand, and Books dropped his bird to go find the new one. The bird dropped wasn't dead yet, and when we went to pick it up had left only a few saliva gummed feathers behind and was never to be found. Not a great performance in any aspect. On the other hand, it was the first day of the season.
Most interesting part of all this?
Blues and bobwhites, living together. Well, at least in proximity.
In celebration of running into some wild bobwhites, we fried our birds and ate them with cream gravy, rice, sauteed greens, black eyed peas and cornbread.
Here's to hoping we can find a few more this weekend. While far from a good year for quail, at least there are a few birds out there.
In a decent quail year, if one was willing to drive a couple hundred miles in a day and had just a little bit of luck, I think you could manage a 4 species, all NM quail slam with bobwhites, blues, Gambel's, and Mearns. One of these days, I'd like to find out, just 'cause.
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