I’ve bird hunted for almost a decade. I know it’s not that long for some of the “seasoned”,to put it nicely, hunters but it has been a journey turning into great passion. And for that I have to thank few folks at CZ-USA for introducing me to this wonderful way of spending time with a shotgun. Our first hunt together was for chukkars in Idaho’s Hell’s Canyon.
I’ve put many different species of upland birds in my vest over the years but the desert quail tops it every time. The birds are beautiful,fast,smart,tough and wise as we found out the last weekend of Arizona season.
The same crew from sage grouse hunt and Project Upland film in 2019 met up somewhere (wink,wink) in the desert within Arizona state lines.
This time we were after Gambel quail. Little faster, little smaller than Wyoming sage grouse but it would take no less effort to get on these birds.
Gambel quail can be found in most of the southwest but I only hunted them in Arizona and New Mexico. They are non migratory birds, very moisture dependent.
The right amount of moisture provides them with plentiful insects. Their main source of protein, crucial to the chicks survival.
Preferred mode of transportation is walking and running but once flushed they are explosive flyers, that’s an understatement, followed by glide into what they think is safe cover. If you pay attention you can mark where they land and try to flush again. I love the pursuit. Shooting one or two birds (on a good day) from a covey, watch the rest of them glide, and land, mark them and pursue again. I remember few years back we chased the same covey the whole afternoon in New Mexico and got many birds out of it.
Same thing this time around except they broke up into singles and doubles much quicker. Man it gives me thrill just writing about it.
Our guide was my dear friend and the best upland bird hunter I’ve ever hunted with. Brett Browning of Bella Rita Outfitters. Brett and I have hunted together almost seven years. We shot lot of quail together. Actually, correction here. Brett shot lot of quail and I watched him do it most of the time.
He is so good because he just loves to hunt quail. Not only he’s great shot but he never loses focus or determination until the dogs and guns are back in the truck. He is my mentor. I’ve learned so much from him and the odd times when I “beat him to the punch” meaning shooting a bird before him over one of his phenomenal dogs’ point is my highlight.
We are not competitive with each other, I can’t be he’s awesome. We are competitive with the birds. It has become personal long time ago.
This hunt was for another Project Upland film. We used CZ’s new Premier Redhead All Terrain 20 ga over /under. I really like this green shotgun for few reasons. It’s good looking gun with 30 inch barrels, ejectors and magnets to hold the shells in while walking with the gun open. Balance seem perfect. The movements of the gun is smoother due its longer barrels.
The only time I go with 28 inch barrel is in grouse woods. We had plenty of room to swing the “long barreled” gun, all the vegetation is low except one taller bush every few hundred yards. The plentiful cacti only reaches your thighs and that is a very good thing.
The Redhead Premier All Terrain also come with swivel studs for nice sling that could be useful on long walks between birds or long approach just to reach the hunting spot.
There is no secret to good quail hunt. Find public land, find quail habitat and walk,walk,walk. You will run into birds and kicked them up, your dogs will point birds and you’ll get to shoot plenty. I always find the few first quail difficult because they’re just different birds than grouse, hun, chukkar or pheasant. They’re extremely sporty.
When you add great friends, dogs and guns it is really hard to beat desert quail hunt.