We went hunting in Central Nebraska this past weekend. The original plan was to hunt pheasant but there were no pheasant, so it was decided that we would hunt quail instead. Pheasant are not an especially hardy bird at the best of circumstances and with the severe drought have not fared well at all. Now since it was determined that quail was the only option to hunt I decided to forgo carrying a shotgun and carry a camera instead. I am not fast enough to shoot quail. On the occasions we have flushed a covey of quail in past hunting trips, I was always startled at the delicate fluttering of birds and as soon as I realized that I could shoot at them, the birds were way out of gun range. So I figured I would stand a better chance of getting some shots of the dogs and Mitch with my camera than hitting a quail with my gun.
Saturday was cold and cloudy, with temperatures in the forties with a mild breeze, making day seem pretty raw. The dogs headed out with Charlie ranging a bit too far in front as always. We have to call him back often otherwise he’ll flush a bird three counties away. AJ wandered a lot slower and more methodically this year, his age showing. Orso as usual headed off lumbering along just happy to be out with everybody bumping into the closest body to wherever he ended up in the field. Charlie was the first to flush a bird and Mitch actually shot it. I was shocked. I didn’t really think that any birds would get shot the entire weekend. Charlie fetched the bird up with Orso sniffing away at this new creature. He has shown no interest in pheasants at all. But this new one smelled pretty good to him.
Orso started off and actually put head down and used his nose to search for a likely scent. This was a bird he liked and wanted to find. Who knew? Orso wandered farther into the field head down, stopped for a brief moment then lunged forward catching a bird in his mouth before it could fly. He came trotting up to Mitch with the bird in his mouth, its’ little white head poking out to the side. He did this not once but three times. Orso had great success at quail hunting. He only needed us to carry the birds after he caught them.
Maybe there is hope for him yet.