Monday, February 20, 2017

Arizona Quail Wrap-Up 2017...Part 2

Here Annie's got 'em (Mearn's quail) as Maggie sticks a pretty back. Of all the many bird dogs I've blown a whistle over, even hunted behind, Mags is by far the most natural backer. Almost from the get go last spring when she really had know idea what the hell, she would back Annie's every stop...stop to pee, Mags backed; stop to poop, Mags backed; stop to look around, Mags backed...

This of course proved a good thing since once she put the two together, e.g. bird scent and Annie stopping...Well it wasn't long until she started finding and pointing her own birds with Annie now doing the backing. Of course too this sort of teamwork is what put birds on the ground and...Now I get to not only smell the birds I get to mouth (taste) 'em as well...Like HOW GOOD IS THAT!!!

From what I've seen Mags totally agrees. The bad news is she learned quickly that Annie does not give a hoot who fetches the bird so...Annie picks up the bird, in a flash Mags steals it...Fun stuff but... Not such a good thing especially when it's a pal's dog getting swindled...

Typical Mearn's quail hunting scene...oak, grass, steep, dog pointing up, hunter wheezing his best...

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Arizona Quail 2017 Wrap...Part 1

Following a white-knuckled couple hours of really icy roads and a near disastrous slide-off pulling off I-15 to get gas outside Idaho Falls the rest of the four-day drive to the Arizona desert proved uneventful...Whew!

With now about 20 desert quail seasons under our belts we pretty much fell into a routine. First camp is on public land in the Sonoran desert northeast of Tucson. And, as always, the first order of business is to police the site of unwanted, unsightly trash--murdered beer bottles and cans, perhaps an old TV, empty pistol and rifle cartridges and shotshells littering the ground and other assorted treasures left behind by thoughtless idiots too lazy to haul out what the bastards bring. And of course shoveling the ever present cow crap...

Anyway enough bawlin', that done we rig the dogs, Annie and Maggie, with bells and electric collars ( you know, just in case the puppies forget their manners), pull on our boots, shell vests, sticker proof (hopefully) brush pants or chaps, load the guns and take a hike. The first circle is a short jaunt around camp, how short depends on how much daylight. This time the sun is well settled on the tops of the Tortalitas. In other words if the dogs are going to hit paydirt will have to do so soon.

As if on cue, suddenly the bells stop ringing. And as we round a mesquite thicket we spy Annie locked tight with her understudy, Maggie, sticking a pretty back. I circle quickly, hoping to come in to the front but the covey busts before I can get there. Coming up in a typical Gambel's scatter, I have my choice of several birds buzzing off well in range, right to left. Easy pickings, naturally I miss both barrels. Blame it on the long drive, a too-tired ol' boy...cast the blame as you wish but...the good news we are HERE and the season doesn't end for about 8 weeks...like lots a time for redemption.

Stay Tuned For More...

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Protecting Sage Grouse Habitat Benefits People

Your intrepid reporter with Annie the Wirehair doin' what we love best...huntin' sage chickens.
"One of the strongest points sportsmen can make in arguing for regulations protecting fish and wildlife habitat is that when critters have healthy homes, so do humans.

"The latest example is science showing that preserving healthy sage brush habitat in the semi-arid west not only benefits wildlife like sage grouse and grazing acres for livestock, but it also improves late-season water availability for all living things, including people.

"That’s the take from a review of USDA research done by the Science for Solutions program, run by the Sage Grouse Initiative. That’s the coalition of private landowners, state and federal agencies, and conservation groups that has been opening eyes with their successful efforts to keep that species from the being listed as threatened or endangered.

"A key finding: a sagebrush-dominated watershed holds water in snow drifts an average of nine days longer than one dominated by juniper trees. And stopping the incursion of junipers is one of the SGI’s primary goals. Of course, it’s been the fashion in the last decade or so for some western politicians to sell the idea that any government regulation to protect fish and wildlife hurts landowners and other folks. So this report provides yet another handy reply to that specious argument.

"Another would be to suggest a reading of Tim Egan’s “The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl.” There is no better example of what can happen to entire landscapes when profit is the only consideration."

Courtesy Bob Marshall, Field and Stream Conservation Blog...

Stay tuned for more...