Back in 1999, my pals and I hired an Arizona quail guide to give bird hunting over pointing dogs a try. We found a guy named Bob Krogh out of Phoenix, an excellent guide and dog handler. Back then, he charged us $250 per day for the hunt. Man, I sure miss those days! We watched Bob work his excellent English Pointers and experienced the magic of these motivated, hard-driven dogs as they worked the land, sifting the air for scent and then transforming from a blur of energy into living statues. We would then witness the heart-pounding covey flush of little feathered rockets! It is hard to describe how intense and exhilarating it is. This hunt was a pivotal event for me. I have been enthusiastically pursuing wild birds ever since. It holds all the best elements of the sporting life – camaraderie, beautiful dogs, fine shotguns, and skills to be learned in awesome, wild places. On that hunt, I clearly remember thinking . . . “Man, THIS is what I want to do!! It is nice to find that in life.
An Arizona quail hunt over two decades ago.
Finally, after a 21-year wait, I had the great fortune to return to Arizona for a guided quail hunt with the wonderful gentlemen from Classic Bird Hunts. This Orvis endorsed outfit operates out of the Babacomari Ranch just southeast of Sonoita. This is a terrific hunt, in the most beautiful country, with great dogs, perfect accommodations and excellent guides. We really enjoyed this hunt partly because it is not elitist or opulent (but very nice!). You hunt hard every day because it is real bird hunting at the mercy of luck and Mother Nature. For sure, at the end of the hunting day you will savor getting out of your boots and the post-hunt cocktail! Learn more about them HERE.
A beautiful Mearns quail and the good old Armas Garbi 101 bird gun.
It felt good to cross this border with guns and dogs!
Quail guide Randy, with his pre-1900 16 gauge Parker bird gun.
Four great Brittanies ready to hunt.
You will cover some serious ground on this hunt.
Southern Arizona is a bird dog paradise! I was delighted with the absence of ground cactus that can be so terribly hard on the dogs. But it is very rocky which can warrant booting your puppy. These sweet Brittany pointers will win your heart!
Temps hit the low 70s on the hunt. It is critical to keep the dogs well watered.
Dusk at the ranch.
The historic Babacomari ranch has its roots in the Spanish land grants back in the 1500s. Click HERE to learn more about the ranch.
This is a modular bridge that was made by the Phoenix Bridge Company of Phoenixville, PA, back in the late 1800s. Still in service on the ranch, we drove our trucks over it several times during the hunt. It seemed sturdy but I guess that bridges always seem OK until they aren’t! They said it was designed by Mr. Eiffel of Eiffel tower fame and that this is the last one still in existence. Click HERE to read more about this bridge and the railroad that it supported.
A windmill from the early 1900s and a distant TARS blimp. This is a pretty dramatic example of the advancement in technology that occurred in the last 100 years.
This is a Tethered Aerostat Radar System or TARS. These stationary blimps keep watch on the southern U.S. border. Read about this HERE.
Beautiful southern Arizona grassland. This is not far from the U.S. / Mexico border.
Tex checks out a Cholla cactus.
A Mearns “bull” (male) quail.
AHHHHH – the stock tank refresher!
That is old Mexico behind these bird hunters.
“The Wall” . . . not what I would consider impenetrable but it is augmented by an electronic virtual wall.
Here is part of that virtual wall. Towers like this are seen every mile or so along the border and seem to be loaded with hi-tech optics. Notice the TARS blimp just above the hills.
A close up of the optics.
An old Live Oak
Beautiful country. The guide said that the Cochise stronghold is in these hills. Cochise was a principal war leader during the Apache Wars. He led an uprising against the U.S. government which began in 1861 and persisted until a peace treaty in 1872. Western history is part of the appeal of the area. We also checked out Tombstone but that is mostly a tourist destination.
No shortage of rugged beautiful scenery here.