Saturday, December 17, 2011

Introduction to the lifetime sport!

Rhys and me.

It was a pleasure to be able to introduce a new hunter to the sport.  Rhys, my prospective son-in-law,  a native of Wales, has been very interested in shooting sports and hunting in general.  He is an archer and competes in Archery for the University of Florida.  A natural extension of that is a progression to shotguns, pistols and rifles.  One day, he asked if I would show him how to shoot a shotgun.  Things progressed and I found him a good buy on a Browning Citori Upland Special 20 ga. He was thrilled, and started shooting trap and skeet down at college. 

Last month, I was drawn by lottery to hunt at DiLane plantation in eastern Georgia.  This is an 8000+ ac. Quail Plantation managed by the state of Georgia for quail habitat.  It seemed like a perfect time to introduce Rhys the fine art of quail hunting in Georgia. 

We arrived at the check-in station around 7 a.m. and picked up our permission form and eased out to where we decided to put out.  It took a little time to get the dogs and gear and guns ready to go, but after a few minutes we gathered to discuss the plan.  We talked about shooting safety, especially over the dogs and around other people, how to move over the ground, approaching pointing dogs, gun safety and a lot of small stuff that makes hunting a lot more fun. This wasn’t the first time we’d talked about this stuff, but it was a perfect time to refresh the information. 
Ace Pointed

It was about 40 degrees under clear skies and promised to warm up to about 70 degrees in the afternoon.  We put the dogs out a started around some perfect habitat.  The dogs worked great and before long we settled in to a routine.  We heard some shooting a few hundred yards away, across a small tree stand and marked that covey off our list as we moved in to a pecan grove.  After about an hour of working around some brushy fields, we again heard more shooting in a different area, but still about 300 yards way- another covey off the list!   We eased in to a pecan grove and worked through that in to some tall pines.  Suddenly, I heard the familiar wurr of wings and an exclamation from Rhys! Simultaneously, I looked through the pines a saw Ace on point ahead of me.  Rhys was to my right and Ace was pointed ahead of me.  I worked the area in front of Ace with no success, turned him loose, and went over to Rhys to find out what happened.  It seems Rhys stepped right in to the covey!  Birds went up all around him!  They flushed directly to and over our third man on the hunt, Glen.  Rhys wisely chose not to shoot.  He did mark the birds down and we eased on over to that area only to discover the birds had flown on to adjoining private land!  Those little buzz bombs knew exactly what they were doing- no doubt. With that little bit of excitement behind us, we moved on to a different area. 

Looking for the covey
The day warmed up and we swapped out dogs to keep them fresh as we moved around the area.  Unfortunately, ALL the area looked good with good food, cover and water- great habitat for the quail.  We heard more shooting around the area and we worked the edges of fields and through the tall pine stands, etc.  The dogs did a wonderful job!  It was a good time for them, too.  Unfortunately, we never did get a shot at the wild birds, but the benefits of this hunt were not in the killed birds.  Rhys got a chance to see how the overall hunt works, habitat, working closely with dogs and other hunters.  We had a great lunch in the field, cooked by Glen.  And, we had hours of talking about hunting in general and bird hunting in particular. 
Chow time in the field!

I always maintain I’ve never had a bad day in the field, and this one was no exception.  We had good dog work, we saw some birds and Rhys had a covey rise right under his feet(!), we ate in the field and talked hunting all day long.  It doesn’t get any better than that! 

I thanked the GA DNR for the opportunity to hunt, via the feedback form, and I’d like to thank for sponsoring Rhys on this hunt.  The future of our sport hinges on bringing new “blood” in.  Take some time and take a young person hunting!
Long Day in the field