Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Random pictures of December in AZ and NM

Male and Female Mearn's Quail.  S. AZ

One mornings bounty.

Wally and Stormy

Me with a Scaled (Blue) Quail - SE NM

Perfect Blue Quail habitat

More Perfect Blue Quail Habitat

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Merry Christmas!

From my family to yours, I wish you a very blessed and merry Christmas.  Remember to take a part of the day and thank God for your blessings and for sending his Son, over 2000 years ago. He didn't come with armies, or fleets, or riding a big horse.  He was born in a cave, surrounded  by the lowest in society.  Take just a minute, before you head out to hunt, and thank Him for that.  Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Quail Valley, New Mexico

The caliche road was beating up my truck, jarring the dogs and rocking me to sleep. I didn't have any supplies, except some water and a few flour tortillas in the cooler (some planning!), so I knocked off about 1 and cracked an emergency MRE.  Some kind of chicken and noodle concoction. I split it with Shack, who did a good job today.  So, now I've got MRE's in my belly and the road rocking me to sleep, when I notice a tiny little two-track sneaking off to the right. I backed up to look at it and figured "what the heck, if I get stuck, I can grill Brittany until they find me" and started up the trail. Two-wheel drive turned to four-wheel drive turned to "uh oh" turned to OMG!  Up, up, around, up, 15 deg sideways, sand, up and more up. Finally, with a last dash to the top, I'm looking down a valley a mile long by half mile wide. It's torn up in sunflowers, daisy, ragweed, mesquite bushes and sand. I realize now, it's a place I've seen from the other end for many years and didn't know how to access. Hoopty Do, this boy's in Quail Valley!  Ruby and I covered half of it before the sun got too low and found 5 separate coveys of blues. They held for the point, which tells me no one's been here hunting.   We didn't hunt the singles, just kept on truckin'.  Ruby was awesome. The day was awesome.  Merry Christmas, my friends.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Bird Dog and Fly Fishing for Charity

This is a great calendar, available for purchase through our friends at Gun Dog Supply. All proceeds will go towards youth events at Pheasant Forever and Quail Forever. The photos are a result of a photo contest on the 'Bird Dogs and Fly Fishing' Facebook group. BDFF, as it is known, is a closed group of dedicated bird hunters and fly fisherman who share experiences, ideas, stories and wisdom.  We especially thank Steve Snell, of Gun Dog Supply, for his generous contribution in the making, printing of the calendar- at no cost to us or benefit to him- to support a worthy charity.  

This is a limited run of calendars. Order yours while they are available. I suspect they will sell out quickly and will be a prestigious addition to any bird hunter or fly fisherman's collection. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Fence

In Germany (“Between neighbor’s gardens a fence is good”), fences are a good thing. They keep cattle in and bad things out. Robert Frost's Poem "Mending Wall" ( really brought the old saying "Strong fences make good neighbors."   They define land ownership. They look good. I hate them. 

I have two nice scars on my right leg. One is a long and jagged on the inside of my knee - from Texas. My dog was on point and I needed to cross a barbed wire fence in a hurry. It was a new and substantial fence, and going over, I stumbled and felt some pain, but the fence let go, and I made it across in good order. I kicked up the covey and got a double, as I recall.  Do we ever "recall" anything else?  A few minutes later, my right boot got wet and squishy. "Odd!" I thought,"I haven't been through any creeks!"  A quick check revealed a nice gash about 3" long and, by now, 1/2" wide.  That night, I put some EMT Gel in the wound and wrapped it up. A couple of weeks later, I was good as new.  The second one is from Nebraska and a similar, though less gory, situation. 

Crossing a barbed wire fence is always problematic. Most can be stepped over by pushing down on the top wire. Failing that, rolling under the bottom wire may work. Or, stepping up the wire, near a post, like a ladder. All of these choices have their own special danger. Straddling barbed wire, while expedient, puts tender parts of male (and female) anatomy close to sharp metal spikes. Rolling under puts the bird hunter down in the dirt with sandspurs. And, climbing wire over a metal post just sounds dangerous. (It is, and I have another scar on my stomach to prove it!). 

This old fence has become part of the tree! Or, the other way around. 

My story continues in a remote part of Arizona, not far from the Mexico border, in the search for Mearn's Quail. My friend, Wally, and I were hunting a hilly, rock strewn area with grass and oaks. The preferred habitat of the Mearn's. My pager (Garmin Alpha) alerted me to my dog, Ruby, pointing a covey about 150 yds away, slightly to the left.  As luck would have it, just across a tight, new barbed wire fence.  Normally, I approach fences in a deliberate manner, searching for low spots, gates, broken top strands, etc. When a dog is pointed on the other side, my thought processes go from thoughtful and deliberate to "get your butt over there!"  I approached the fence, pushed down on the top wire, and swung my left foot over the top. At that point, my shoelace caught the wire as my boot crossed over. I was hung up half-way across!  Attempting to extricate myself, I pulled my boot back over hoping the shoelace would unhook.  (All the while, checking my Alpha to make sure Ruby was still pointed.) the shoelace was stuck fast, wrapped around the barbed wire strand. The situation was this:  I was standing on one leg, holding a shotgun in my left hand, barbed wire fence in my right hand, with my left leg affixed to the fence. And, I began to fall backwards.......  

There are many things a man in my situation could be thinking at this point. I, in my infinite wisdom, was thinking, "I hope Wally isn't seeing this!"  As I began to topple backwards, I raised my left hand to save my old Fox, and gripped the fence tighter with my right to perhaps slow or stop my slide to the rocks under my right foot. I'm still amazed at how fast a body can pick up speed (28 feet per second squared) and how quickly it can stop when it hits Arizona rock! Just as I hit with my vest supplies impacting my lower back, my left foot released and I was sprawled out on my back, left arm up (gun secured!), right hand still gripping the fence and stunned. I wanted to laugh, but it hurt.  Just then I heard the covey flush, and, louder yet, my hunting partner stay conspicuously silent. 

After I managed to cross the fence on the second attempt, we failed to find the birds,  And, much more to my chagrin, my fence crossing abilities were no longer a subject of speculation, but a matter of record. 

Dang, my back hurt. I hate fences.