Bobwhite Quail on the Rebound

The bobwhite quail, for reasons we can finally begin to understand, are making a comeback.


| September/October 2016



Group of quails by water

Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus), five at waterhole.

Photo by Michael Francis Photography

Bobwhite quail numbers remain down, but programs to rebuild populations are being aggressively developed. Many don’t remember the good old days of quail hunting. Here is a brief excerpt from my 1989 journal:

Snow crunched underfoot as the pointer ran through a huge cornfield. Suddenly the muscular dog came to a complete stop, hesitated, and then froze in a deliberate point. Ted Hatfield moved slowly towards the pointer, carefully selecting each of his steps amid thick corn stubble.

A shiver flushed through the dog’s body. No doubt about it, pointing quail or pheasant is what this dog was born to do. Hatfield slowly moves closer. Anticipation of a covey rise grew with each step – for both hunter and dog.

Hatfield finally reached the statuelike pointer who was intensely starring at the quail. Another step and the world blew up in his face.

"BRRRRRRRRR!”

About 20 sets of thundering wings from corn stubble mixed with laid-over weeds brought us to attention as our guns raised. Hatfield twisted right, correcting his lead on a bobwhite quail before squeezing the trigger. His 20-gauge double barrel shotgun made a fine explosion as a quail folded in midair. He quickly lined up another bird to complete a bobwhite quail double. Heavy winter air held the excellent smell of burnt gunpowder longer than usual – a smell for which bird hunters live.





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