Photo By Jeff Dennis
A bobwhite quail in the hand is a tangible part of any preserve hunt
By: Jeff Dennis
Late season preserve quail hunting is a great way to finish off the upland season, hunting into February and March.
Hunting over pointing dogs is an important part of our hunting heritage, and the cold weather of winter aids their ability to locate quail and to work longer.
The topic of bobwhite quail recovery is important, but preserve hunting involves pen-raised birds that present a surefire chance of success.
Yet each outing is different, depending on how the birds hold, with good dog work always making the difference.
Dog handlers know that humidity levels can affect the canine’s olfactory abilities to find the quail, and preserve hunts give wingshooters new insight and appreciation for the dog’s work.
One day the dogs can act like a champion and lock up on point without fail, and another day a lack of wind can make it seem like they can’t smell a darn thing.
But this is simply a part of upland hunting, because hunters respect that the dogs are the only way to locate bobwhites hiding in the bushes.
Quail hunting is unique in that the start time of the hunt can be flexible in order to accommodate the weather.
For instance, duck hunting begins before dawn and if you are late, then the best hunting will pass you by.
Quail hunting is not subject to the control of sunrise, and while it is best for all parties to pursue gentleman Bob in the cold, a later start is a possibility.
For instance, if the temperature is below freezing at 9 a.m. but by 10 a.m. it will not be quite as bone chilling, then simply begin the hunt later.
Preserve hunts can be scheduled to accommodate time of day and to incorporate meals and lodging.
A 12-gauge shotgun is best for most wingshooting sports like dove hunting and duck hunting, and it is certainly the most popular gun for shooting skeet.
Quail hunting differs again from the rest because bobwhite quail are a small gamebird and the shooting range will be fairly close, so a lighter gauge shotgun is a better choice.
Whether shooting a side-by-side shotgun or an over and under shotgun, a double-barreled 20-gauge shotgun makes the most sense for hunting quail.
Improved cylinder choke tubes are a good option for shooting quail on the rise.
Regarding safety, hunters wear a blaze orange hat and vest for high visibility.
Walking behind the dogs through the woods calls for comfortable footwear.
Pants that offer a degree of toughness can shield your legs from any briars or vines that may grab your attention below the waist.
A shirt that does not bind your range of motion will improve your chances when turning to shoot a quail that is certain to fly an erratic path towards escape cover.
The tradition of scheduling a season ending quail preserve hunt gives you a good reason to get together with a favorite hunting buddy one last time.
Commercial operations can get booked up as the season dwindles, so make sure to book a hunt date in advance.
There is no way to tell how many times you will get to shoot your gun, but each opportunity is special, becoming a countdown to the end of the day.
Pausing in the woods and giving thanks for the day afield is always the right thing to do because eventually, you’ll be back at the truck tailgate saluting the end of another quail season.