When hard work is rewarded, Mearns’ Quail

“Here they come!!” From across the small canyon I both saw and heard them. Gene’s dog Scooter had locked up seconds earlier and as the covey rose magic filled that canyon.

Rewind a few hours. Gene and I met up in Tucson, in the dark. My friend Mike had given me some suggestions on a new spot to try for Mearns’ Quail. It’s an area not usually known for them but on a down year like this we are willing to try anything. When we arrived we were pleased by what the terrain looked liked. This was definitely Mearns country.

The dogs got to work searching the canyon.

We climbed slowly letting the dogs noses lead us. It was just too perfect not to find birds. Gene worked one side and I worked the other. Near the top Gene’s dog locked up and within a few seconds there were 14 or so black and tan bombers flying every direction. Gene wasn’t in position for a shot but I got lucky and had two fly right at me. The Citori barked once, missing the fast flying bird. The second shot was true and my first Mearns’ was down. I’ve worked really hard, driven hundreds of miles, hiked many canyons, and finally connected with this beautiful male.

Pursuing specific game or fish that are rare or elusive makes the success that much sweeter. I could have went home right then and felt totally fulfilled. We continued hunting though and in the next canyon Gene found another covey and scratched down a pretty female.

We called it a morning and headed to the truck for lunch. Gene outdid himself whipping up Coues deer steaks and two salads.

After the needed break we finished up the day pushing some low valleys. We found more birds.

It was a perfect day. That first big covey coming up out of the yellow gold grass is something i’ll never forget. The Sky Island mountain ranges of Southern Arizona are special. Their elevation allows these special birds and many other species survive in an otherwise arid and formidable place. Gene and I will be back.

Categories: Arizona, Backcountry, Cooking, Coues Deer, Game Meat, Hunting, Mearn's Quail, Sleep When Youre Dead, Upland, Upland Game