Pointing Dogs and Mearns’ Quail

What a difference a year makes. Our Mearns’ quail population seems to be doing much better than last year. I had been hearing this from a few hunters and yesterday I was able to go experience it for myself. In the hottest part of the summer, we were blessed with some really good monsoon rains and that really helps Mearns’ quail during a critical time of the year.

Gene and I met up early yesterday. He had his brittany BeBe and I brought Chase. Last year Chase was all about birds but he lacked the mindset to stop and point for very long. This year he is a different dog. At three years old he is really coming along nicely.

Not 100 yards into the first canyon Chase went on point. I walked up not really sure if he was serious and almost fell backwards when the hillside exploded with Mearns’.

I missed two shots at one flying straight away. The dog and I were way too excited after this but thats why we do it right? If it were boring we wouldnt get up at crazy hours and drive forever on these marathon day trips. I yelled with excitement and Gene calmly told me to go find singles. We calmed down, Chase had another beautiful point and I again missed the bird….

The next canyon was a different story. Chase and I slowed down and worked our way up the bottom. A small group of Mearns’ flushed up a few yards on the hill in front of us and I thought game on. We carefully moved into position. Chase pointed and I walked in for the flush. I got a double, threw another shell in and dropped a third bird that flushed after the fact. While Chase was retrieving one of the fist two birds I heard a loud swooshing sound over my shoulder and glanced up just in time to see a red-tailed hawk dive in and pick up the third bird I shot. You dont see that every day and I was instantly grateful I’d not slept in that morning. After the second retrieve Chase went on point again and I had a third bird to hand.

We continued our march up the canyon, Chase’s good dog work was rewarded with four more birds to finish up the limit. I counted the one the hawk got as I had bagged it even if I was not going to be able to enjoy it for dinner myself.

With my limit done I walked back to meet up with Gene who had worked a different canyon. On my way down I caught a glimpse of a Coues deer doe with her white tail held high sneaking away at about 50 yards. Then this guy stopped just long enough for a quick shot.

I was on cloud nine and Gene was really excited about my success. He is a great hunting partner. We snapped a pic of my birds and then I cleaned them while Gene cooked up some lunch. He never disappoints.

We finished the day walking a final canyon. I was just there to help, having limited already. Bebe went on a hard point and Gene flushed up a big covey. He shot a double and we hiked back to the truck.

Mearns’ country in special. The yellow hills dotted with large oak trees feel warm and inviting under soft winter light. At first glance they look barren but when you put boots and dogs on the ground and keep your eyes peeled, what you see can amaze you.

Categories: Arizona, Backcountry, Birds, Hunting, Upland, Upland Game