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.
This year we had the great fortune to hunt the opening day of the Texas dove season.
Here in Colorado the drought is in full bloom and heat records seem to be set daily. It has been a tough summer for the birds. Dove hunting in Colorado is rarely spectacular but this year our one day dove hunt was notably slow. My guess is that there were about half the birds as compared to the year before. No one took a limit but of course the hunters the day before were limited out and done by 9:30am, we were told. Maybe so as that was opening day.
Even though the hunting was poor, we had a great time. The birds arrived in ones and twos all morning, the weather was perfect and this was Tex’s first hunt. Tex had two Labs and another GSP to hunt and play with. There is no doubt that he had a terrific time and was exhausted at the end of the morning.
This year it was a perfectly comfortable morning for the opening of dove season in northern Colorado. The day heated up fast but remained pleasant and bug-free if you stayed in the shade. We topped out in the mid-90s, which is hot for us but pretty nice compared to our sweaty friends in states south of us who hunted in 100+ degrees. Hope they kept their dogs watered.
In Colorado there is a reliable and unfortunate pattern to the dove migration around opening day. We see dove everywhere all summer long – perched on wires, cooing on roof tops, swooping from tree to tree and pooping on my truck – but sometime a week or so before 9/1 they disappear. This is usually attributed to a late August cold snap but this year it was hot up to the 1st and yet their pattern of disappearance still held true. I had not seen a dove for a week when we headed out on Thursday morning. We hunted with the nice folks at Longmeadow. They have about 4,000 acres and have built a really nice event center about an hour and a half northeast of Denver.
Though the number of birds were greatly diminished from a week or two ago, there were still plenty around for us to get our limit, which we did before lunch. It was not what you would call solid white hot action but there were times when we had more birds coming in than we could handle. It was a great start to the bird hunting season.
My hunting buddy enjoying a morning of truancy.
“Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air . . . ”