Sunday, June 05, 2011

quail around the new digs

So, this move has brought us down into quail territory, lower & hotter than Albuquerque with more grassland and more birds.The little bit of driving around we've done, I've seen a lot of country that looks to me like it ought to be really good for blue quail (provided it ever rains).

We did get out a bit during the last season, scouting some nearby BLM and Open Gate lands. Our first foray, we found tracks near a windmill and then bumped the covey, which outsmarted & outran us pretty quickly.

Life & work intervened and it wasn't until the very end of the season that we found ourselves out again. We hit the area around that windmill again, working through a fair amount of pretty big mesquite, when Booker the Chessie disappeared and didn't respond to calls. He turned up sixty yards away having cornered a big porcupine in a mesquite bush and unsure what to do with it.

Books managed to get too close, though:

This required getting back to the truck and breaking out a pair of pliers. The quills in his chest were barely into the skin, but a couple of those in his chin were deep enough to hurt quite a bit when I pulled them out. Books didn't offer to bite, he just tried to keep me from getting at the deep ones. After a careful check to make sure we got them all and that none of the quills had broken off, a big drink of water and we were off to see if we couldn't find some other birds.

Some miles of driving and a couple of big loops walking and all we'd found were more tracks, a sunning badger, and a few antelope. We were headed back toward pavement when a covey of fifteen or so birds flushed across the road and hit the ground running. As I pulled up, jumped out, and started jogging up on the birds it occurred to me that I was all alone. Booker and A are both neophytes to the ways of blue quail and didn't fully appreciate the need to get on the birds and get the covey broken up so we could hunt singles before they all ran into the next county. I might have been a bit short in my explanation and A wasn't really aware that it's ok to run with a loaded shotgun, at least when you're trying to get a bunch of scurrying blue quail to flush. We did get them up though, and, between that flush and catching up to a couple of singles, we managed to scratch down a couple of birds and get Booker a couple of retrieves. One of those retrieves involved a leap over a prickly pear followed by a running snatch on a bird that wasn't quite dead yet. Not stylish, but exciting. The rest of the covey just melted away and disappeared, as blues are so very good at.

You can see the reason for the name "scaled quail":

On the rest of the way out we came across another covey, this one classic late season- small and wise to the ways of the world. They flushed a hundred yards from the truck, hit the ground running, split up and then flushed wild again. Good seed stock.

Here's hoping for a little rain so we have some birds for Books to learn on.


Crazy Uncle Larry said...

My dog quilled herself and skunked herself in a 24 hour period last fall. It's amazing how calm they are about it. Dig the blog, can't wait to see more of New Mexico's birdlands.

Matt said...

Porkies were pretty common in CO where I grew up. Most dogs figured it out after a single encounter, but some...
Skunkswere the other nemesis of inquisitive dogs.
Two posts in less than 10 months, things are looking up.

mdmnm said...

A skunk and a porky in 24 hours is a pretty rough run! Hope you do enjoy future posts.

Yeah, I used to see quite a few porcupines up in the timber, but mostly in trees. Down here in the brush they're right at dog level, unfortunately. I think Books just leaned in for a sniff and got whacked by a tail, which is why he was barely quilled in the chest but dinged worse on the chin.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Glad to see further adventures of Booker.

When you squeeze porcupine quills with pliers, air pressure actually pushes out the barbs even more. The trick is to cut the ends off of deeply embedded quills before pulling (said my dad, the forest ranger).

mdmnm said...

Thanks for the info! That was my first experience with removing porcupine quills and, fortunately, these were not too deep. It probably would have been a lot easier on Booker if I'd known your dad's information and used his technique!

Do you have the copy of Gray's where Ed Engle immortalized your dad's deer hunting wisdom?