Archive for the ‘Quail’ Category

The best advice you’ve ever received

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Make the earn it.

Make them earn it.

“Never give away a bowl of dog food.”

That’s what a grizzled old trainer said, almost off-hand, decades ago. Being a bit slow on the uptake, I asked what he’d meant with that tossed-away comment. His explanation drove home the best bit of advice I’ve ever been given: dogs expect something for everything they do … or don’t do.

Your hunting partner is learning all the time. If their DNA contains anything, it holds the chromosome for cause and effect. Deep in their canine genetic legacy is an innate ability to tie actions with consequences. Scramble more aggressively, get more mother’s milk. Run faster and catch more dinner. Fight hardest, and earn the chance to reproduce.

These fundamentals guide a dog’s entire existence. If he gets nothing for his efforts, he’s probably not going to do it again. If he does, he’ll repeat the behavior. When he does it for food or praise, a bird or even your companionship, it becomes a training strategy.  That observation still guides my training today.

Have you been enlightened?What was that advice?

Who shared their wisdom with you, and why? Most importantly, what did you do with that hard-won knowledge?

(Scott’s TV show is Wingshooting USA. His new book is What the Dogs Taught Me. Learn more here.)

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Ditch parrot, mudbat & X&*%$! bobwhite

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Anyone else call this a hunkie?

Anyone else call this a hunkie?

Every region has it’s quirky names for critters. Time to compile the ultimate list of those we shoot at as they fly away. What do they call a ringneck pheasant in Montana? Is a timberdoodle in Vermont a bogsucker in New Brunswick? And what the heck is a mudbat? Offer up your upland and waterfowl colloquialisms in the comment section … and if you can’t come up with a “real” one, feel free to make one up.

I’ll start:

Woodcock: mudbat, bogsucker, timberdoodle
Pheasant: ditch parrot
Merganser: flying liver
Up yours!: (anything we miss)

Your turn!

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What’s bad about a good preserve hunt?

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Okay, we’ve all been on a BAD lodge/preserve hunt: Dogs that won’t hold or retrieve, pool table smooth “cover,” birds that couldn’t fly themselves out of a paper bag.

But what’s wrong with a GOOD preserve hunt? It offers much to the dog owning hunter: more plentiful birds, convenient location, a chance at that rare commodity camaraderie, and at least a taste of the natural world, even if it’s been crafted by the hands of man.

And that’s not even weighing the value of your time, driving hours (or days) to knock on locked doors and not get permission to hunt non-existent wild birds on beat-up property that was hunted by every third cousin of the landowner’s last weekend. So “paying” for birds becomes moot, unless the value of your time is zero dollars.

I just had a pretty good preserve hunt. My friend Rob and I enjoyed every minute of it, from the dog work, to the weather, to the unlittered fields we had all to ourselves. And while a true wild bird hunt offers a philosophical and possibly emotional charge I won’t get at the local lodge, it was better than nothing. Way better. And according to Buddy, pretty darn gratifying.

Caveat: don’t get on my case about the nightmares that occur at many preserves. I already know, and have lived through, them. That’s not my purpose here (maybe in another post). But consider:

Fly anglers are pretty much over the planted trout issue, except in the rarest of cases. Many of our best “wild” trout streams were barren until someone put fish in them. Even put-and-take fisheries redeem themselves with most anglers if the fish “act wild.” Clipped fins, brookies in the West, McCloud River rainbows in New Zealand … who cares as long as the package is good?

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West Tennessee Quail Culture

Monday, June 16th, 2014

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Quail Forever Farm Bill Biologist Brittney Viers with cooperating landowners Judy and Brian Robbins. Instead of continuing to plant a worn out farm they inherited, Judy and Brian worked with Quail Forever and other partners to restore their land for quail and other wildlife.

The quail culture of West Tennessee runs deep and wide.

I visited the Mid-South and Kentucky Lakes Quail Forever chapters just before the holidays. It was a very encouraging trip that began with visiting farmer Vince Arnold near Paris. He recently put in a buffer strip on a creek because it was eroding badly, but also because he wants his son Casey, who he brought out to meet me, to experience wildlife and hunting.

I next attended the annual gathering of the area Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Jackson, where I spoke about the Paris landowner, thanking the NRCS for its help in bringing hope to area quail and quail hunters. My host, QF Farm Bill biologist Britteny Viers, then showed me another, much larger quail habitat project on land owned by Judy Robbins.

“The land when I inherited it was being worked to death. I didn’t want to do that anymore,” Robbins said. She fondly recalls her grandmother, the land’s prior owner, sitting on the front porch of the farm house whistling to the quail.

The next day Walker Morris, co-founder and former president of the Mid-South Chapter, and Andy Edwards, QF regional representative, toured the famous Ames Plantation, which annually hosts the National Championship for Bird Dogs on its over 18,000 acres southeast of Memphis. Shadow Oak Bo won the 2013 competition here, the first English setter to do so since 1970.

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Farmer Vince Arnold, son Casey and wife April worked with Quail Forever to buffer a field-side stream to protect water quality and provide quail habitat.

We later toured the 30,000 square foot National Bird Dog Museum in nearby Grand Junction, which includes an amazing collection of bird dog lore that any bird dog owner should see. One display, a Remington Model 17 20 ga. pump, was donated by local Julian Fleming who bagged 8,000 wild quail with the piece between 1955-1980!

After indulging in the local quail culture, we finally got to hunt them up at the nearby Wolf River Wildlife Management Area.  Walker’s two setters “Zip” and “Bonnie” put us on some birds too and there was shooting. The woods of west Tennessee are gorgeous, with over 20 varieties of oak. The uplands grow very tall and stately with hickories, persimmon, yellow poplar, shortleaf pine, America beech and eastern red cedar. The interspersed wetlands include the iconic bald cypress, hackberry, sugarberry and water tupelo gum. The uplands are carefully stewarded, planted with native grasses, forbs and regularly burned to keep out the trees and invasives.

The next day we hunted 30 acres owned and expertly managed by Quail Forever member Mike Hansbrough, NRCS area biologist. We also put up a covey here on that beautiful, diverse habitat….and got some shooting. Viers, a wildlife biologist with a masters in forestry, also took up the chase for her first wild quail. At day’s end, we hit a well managed, 528-acre CRP SAFE (State Acres For wildlife Enhancement) project in Fayette County.

As our day closed out with the Mid-South Chapter volunteers at a great Memphis BBQ joint, thunder, lightning and heavy rain descended. The next morning in heavy rain, we fled north to Minnesota through ice and snow, grateful for our new Tennessee friends, adventures and memories they so kindly gave us.

Check out the details of this intriguing adventure in an upcoming issue of Quail Forever Journal. If you’re not a member yet, join. You’ll love our magazine and feel good about giving back to the birds.

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Are you a “slob hunter?”

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Your mother doesn’t live here. Clean up after yourself.

Way back in the deepest recess of your formerly-adolescent mind, you heard that cliché in reference to your bedroom. Below the Farrah Fawcett poster, amongst the model cars (or maybe an X Box) was your dirty laundry. Or a pizza box, unfinished homework, candy wrappers or more likely all of the above.

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But today it’s your spent shotgun shells on the ground.

Just like dirty socks in as a kid, you left them where they fell. Just a couple, forgotten in the excitement of a covey flush … or a double on jinking bobwhites (yes!).

No big deal. Until the birders visit next spring and surmise that all hunters are slobs. Or the local PETA chapter on their summer solstice drumming-and-sweat-lodge outing. Then, those empty hulls are just garbage.
Trash. And hunters are too, damned by the bright, shiny evidence shouting to the world that we are all gun-toting yahoos without regard for anyone or anything else, including our environment. Our coverts.

Those empties are no longer plastic and brass. They are an embarrassment to sportsmen – a condemnation of every one of us, a glinting example of our carelessness and disregard for others.

I’m reminded of a sign I saw above a locker-room door years ago: Our reputation depends on you, me, and us.
How about a more selfish reason: piles of shucked ammo show me where your honey hole is. And another: common courtesy. You wouldn’t be invited to his next barbecue if you dumped crap in your neighbor’s yard. Why dump it in our collective yard? Fellow hunters are your neighbors on public lands.

We have enough challenges: to the Second Amendment, finding ammo, continued access to public land, dogs that forget their training. And while we can’t sway rabid anti-hunters, we have plenty of chances to keep the non-hunting public on our side. The ones who vote, and stand up at public meetings. The folks who write letters to the editor and testify at game and fish department hearings.

So pick up your trash and someone else’s. Because if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Your choice.

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Find your way back from that hunt

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

While a GPS can be a lifesaver, map and compass skills will bail you out when batteries, weather, memory and wits fail. At a minimum, you should know how to find a “catchline” that will lead you back to a known location.

Study, then bring along a copy of a map of the area you will hunt. Make note of a stream, road, ridgeline or other long, relatively straight feature in relation to where you park or make camp. That’s your catchline. You will hunt away from that location, and as long as you know which direction you went in relation to the catchline, you’re home free.

It's simple, with a "catchline"

It’s simple, with a “catchline”

Example: I’m camped along a river that runs north-south. I hunt away from camp to the east. When I want to head back, I simply walk west until I reach the river. Camp is either left or right along my catchline. If I’m really smart, I’ve overshot camp on purpose (say, to the north) so I know to walk south when I hit the stream.

(Creator/host of the TV show Wingshooting USA, Scott’s new book What the Dogs Taught Me is available here.)

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Dog of the Day: “Ruby”

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Ruby

Given her choice in gauge, Ruby here looks like she is going to be a proper pointing dog.

Ruby is a French Brittany owned by Joey Clark.

Also known as the “French Brittany,” the Epagneul Breton originated in the central region of Brittany in France. It is one of the oldest spaniel-type dogs and the smallest of the pointing breeds. Its body is compact, often described as “cobby” or square. The coat is slightly wavy with feathering on the legs.  Acceptable colors are white and orange, white and black, white and liver, and tricolored.

The Epagneul Breton was first brought to North America in the 1930s and 1940s. Through selective breeding, the “American Brittany” evolved as a taller, faster, more strong-willed version of its ancestors, also eliminating the black color in the coat. Wishing to retain the original and unique characteristics of the breed, a group of Epagneul Breton breeders and owners formed the Club Epagneul Breton of the United States in 1997.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Rehan Nana, Quail Forever’s public relations specialist, at RNana@quailforever.org.

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Dog of the Day: “Cash”

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Cash_Howie_Swenson

Cash, Howie Swenson’s four-month-old French Brittany, is seen here retrieving his first Mearns quail.

“His training is going very well,” said Swenson of Tucson, “We’re both looking forward to the fall.”

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Rehan Nana, Quail Forever’s public relations specialist, at RNana@quailforever.org.

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Collegiate Chapter First to Donate to Florida and Georgia Quail Coalition Project

Friday, April 25th, 2014

 

UGAChapter

On the heels of Quail Forever’s announcement of support for the Florida & Georgia Quail Coalition, students from University of Georgia, who started a local Quail Forever collegiate chapter, stepped up to make the first financial donation to the project.

The Quail Forever UGA chapter made a $1,500 donation to further the coalition’s goal of helping bobwhite quail in Georgia through habitat improvements, in addition to a $2,500 pledge to their local shooting team’s MidwayUSA Foundation account to continue the shooting sports tradition.

“Quail Forever- UGA is excited and blessed for having the opportunity to positively influence the state of Georgia through quail habitat restoration and management in hopes of bringing quail back to a sustainable and huntable state,” said Jase Brooks, the chapter’s president, “Our focus and goal is to allow sportsmen in our community to have a lasting impression in the state; not only on the landscape, but also on our next generation of sportsmen and women. We, along with other chapters, in the state are pledging $2,500 to local youth shooting teams in hopes of establishing a firm foundation for the next generation. Reaching out and introducing our youth to shooting, hunting and the outdoors is the key to assuring that our heritage of hunting and enjoying the outdoors is preserved!” 

The newly-founded chapter is contributing funds raised at its recent “Sportsmen’s Night” fundraising event, held April 3 in Athens. There, attendees participated in raffles, a silent auction and door prizes, all while enjoying all you could eat wings and drinks. The event was a success and left people excited for the chapter’s upcoming fall banquet (details to be announced).

“Georgia’s history of quail hunting and the outdoors runs deep, so it is tremendous to see these undergraduates with the UGA Quail Forever chapter rallying to carry on the tradition,” says Talbot Parten, Quail Forever’s regional representative for Georgia and Florida. “I hope their actions inspire other community members to get involved with quail restoration and getting youth outdoors.”

“What’s also great to see is they understand and embrace the full scope of the partnership, donating their locally-raised funds not only to improve habitat, but also to get youth involved in the outdoors,” continued Parten. “The $2,500 donation will serve the team for years to come and help usher in the next generation of Georgia outdoorspeople.”

Funds from the $1,500 donation will be used specifically to make improvements on four of Georgia’s public land quail focal areas, including Silver Lake, El Model, Chickasawhatchee and River Creek, and to help fund practice for the shooting team through the purchase of shells, clays, etc.

The Georgia and Florida Quail Coalition is a partnership between Quail Forever, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Georgia Department of Natural Resources-Wildlife Resources Division and Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy.

All four organizations have signed a memorandum of agreement pledging that they will each provide mutually beneficial support to a project called the Florida/Georgia Quail Coalition, whose goal is to enhance, promote and conserve quality habitat for northern bobwhite and to promote and support youth shooting sports programs and education.

Quail Forever will provide one shared full-time position employee and one part-time position staff member. The organization also is charged with providing funding to establish, manage and monitor quail populations and habitat on public and private lands in Florida and Georgia, and to work with the Coalition to increase youth hunting opportunities on some of these lands once adequate bird populations and habitat have been restored.

Funding to support youth shooting sports programs and scholastic shooting teams in Florida and Georgia has been provided by Larry and Brenda Potterfield, founders and owners of MidwayUSA and the MidwayUSA Foundation. Shooting teams will also be able to establish endowments with the MidwayUSA Foundation to support long-term funding. Quail Forever will provide additional support for shooting programs and teams from local chapters involved in QF’s Forever Shooting Sports.

To increase and enhance quality quail habitat, money for projects will be spent on frequent small-scale prescribed burning, removing oak trees, roller-chopping dense palmettos and hardwood thickets and thinning rows of planted pine trees. The result of such management practices will create a forest and canopy that is more open, allowing sunlight to reach the forest floor, so that native grasses and weeds can grow, which provide quail food and cover from predators.

For more information on the Florida/Georgia Quail Coalition, please contact Talbott Parten at (229) 289-8199 or email Talbott.

 

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Dog of the Day: “Hunter”

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Hunter_Jeff_Braun

10 year old “Hunter” is shown here with a couple of Kentucky birds from a public Wildlife Management Area. Jeff Braun of Hawesville, KY is the gun toting part of the team.

Have your own bird dog photo you’d like to share? Email it to Rehan Nana, Quail Forever’s public relations specialist, at RNana@quailforever.org.

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