Where to hunt Quail
The “Gentleman Bob”, or bobwhite quail, is the classic quarry of American hunting, made famous by Robert Roark and other writers. Bobwhite quail inhabits most of the Eastern and South-Eastern states, and the Western hunters can pursue other species of quail, including California (or valley), mountain, blue, Gambel’s, and Montezuma quail. The American quail has family in Europe, too – a little bird with a somewhat humbler plumage, the common quail, which is also held in great esteem by bird dog lovers in countries like Spain, Italy, and the Balkans. Still another species of quail, harlequin quail, exists in South Africa, and is included in most South African small game packages.
Quail hunting offers start at about $200 a hunter a day. The most affordable options are usually to be found in Bulgaria, Romania, and other countries around the Balkans, where thousands of migratory European quail spend the winter. These hunts are often a great value, as they include the services of a guide with trained pointers and knowledge of terrain. The price may go up to roughly $800 a hunter a day for offers in well-stocked preserves in Spain, or the most prized bird hunting areas in the USA.
When to hunt Quail?
Quail season may start as early as August in countries like Belarus, and a devoted quail hunter may find an opportunity to chase their favorite birds all year round, in the Southern Hemisphere, or on stocked game farms and preserves. But the best time for quail hunting is late autumn and early winter.
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Quail hunting is about walking. It can be done without a dog, but goes way better with a good setter or pointer in front of you. Quail will be found on the intersection of food (fields and meadows) and cover (bush and scrub); standing food plots that provide both can be a honey hole. American quail tends to live in a family group, known as covey, that will typically rise to the wing all together. European quail is more individualistic: the birds in a flock will be pointed and flushed one by one. Small bore shotguns are ideal, but 12 gauges work well too with light Skeet loads. Quail is not a very difficult target – until excitement kicks in, that is.
Why hunt Quail?
Small, but dear, as a piece of gold – this Russian proverb describes quail to a T. To follow a steady pointer into the open fields, to see the dog hit the breaks in mid-gallop as the smell of that tiny bird reaches its nostrils, to walk or ride to the point, and to see the launch of that little feathered rocket is one of the purest forms of hunting excitement. “The little fellow doesn't weigh but about six ounces but every ounce of him is pure class.” – as Ruark wrote in “The Old Man and the Boy”. – “He's smart as a whip, and every time you go up against him you're proving something about yourself.”
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