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Question by redfishunter. Uploaded on February 13, 2013
My grandfather was a huge quail hunter. Every serious sportsman of the time hunted quail. Then they all disappeared, for reasons we've been arguing about for years. I know people who quail hunt today. But its pen raised birds, or they pay someone to hunt (likely still pen raised birds).
My grandad also always had a few quail dogs, and from what his old hunting buddies have told me, they were always the best around. Today, I use dogs to hunt ducks, deer, rabbits, squirrels, hogs, and raccoons. But I don't know anyone that I have hunted with that has quail dogs. Just seems unfortunate that what was once a hunting culture has all but disappeared.
All but. Last night, the wife gave me her blessing to get a quail dog. Good day gentlemen!!
Sure would be good to see wild quail make a comeback. I get tired of watching cable tv. shows of quail hunts, and planted birds. Some of the shows are flat out embarrassing. The dog points in some heavy cover. They'll have 2-3 guys kicking around trying to get it up, and then when it does it flies no higher than a cottontail rabbit, and goes for about 25 ft. I sure wouldn't supply my dogs for the hunt.
I haven't hunted quail in the south. But, when I was young, we did have a fairly good population of wild quail here in PA. (1950s) I had a mixed breed bird dog that was good on quail. I know many biologists blame the demise on clean farming practices. But, I feel it has a lot to do with predators.
A Brittany would be a very good quail dog, select a quality breeder of field dogs.
Many years ago in western KY. Great experience. English Setters, good dogs. Almost no wild quail where I live now. A quail call is a rare thing. It does take me to a different time and place when I do hear it.
PAShooter...When you don't have good cover due to clean farming practices you will have a predator problem. Makes bird hunting very easy for predators.
The last time I hunted truly wild quail was around '99 or 2000. Since then the population has been on a steady decline. I will see a wild covey every now and then but I guess I feel to sorry for them to hunt them. Saying that, I now have two GSP/English Setter crosses that will turn a year old at the end of the month. We have been working them on some pen raised birds. Like others have said after working with them makes me miss wild birds all the more. The biggest problems I see today is predators. Everything from bobcats, hawks, to coons destroy quail populations. And it seems like the predators numbers are fast increasing.
Sounds great, Refisher. I believe any upland pointing breed will do fine as a "quail dog." I am extremely happy with my 1.5 year old French Brittany (no longer called "spaniels" because they're actually pointing setter not flushing spaniel). One could easily double as a waterfowl retriever down in your country too. They are a great size for around the house and in the car. Tons of personality and great with kids. I also hear the Llewellin setter (a variety of English setter) is a great dog too. The hair issues are certainly less (but only a little less) with Brittany than the larger setters. Of course, don't even think about Irish setter. They have been ruined by show ring breeding. I am not a big fan of GSP and GWHP or English pointer. Too wound up for my liking. And I want my dogs in the house not stuffed in a kennel all the time. I have heard good things about Italian Spinone but have never seen one, let alone seen one in action. They are a fairly large and somewhat hairy dog with large webbed feet. One would easily work ducks as well as point uplands. They apparently have a great disposition as they are sometimes used for seeing eye dogs. That would seem to say a lot.
There still is an ongoing heated debate about the role expanding turkey population might be playing in the reduction of quail. There sure seems to be some credibility to that theory given what the folks around Yosemite are seeing. Valley quail have dropped dramatically since the turkeys have invaded that area.
OHH - I need to do some research on the breed. I am thinking an english pointer, a GSP, or a brittany. This will be a dog that stays in the kennel almost all of the time unless it is hunting or training. I am also hoping that it can double as a running companion for my wife. It needs to be a close working dog that can handle the Mississippi heat. One that would serve as a duck dog in a pinch would be nice, but I already have one of those that I am hoping to get about four more seasons out of.
Clinchnot, I agree that loss of habitat is a huge problem. But, our family farm should be a quail's dream. We have plenty of cover, good food and water, and we try to control the predators. Yet each year there is fewer and fewer quail on our property.
Redfishunter, if you want a fun high energy dog than the GSP is for you. They are a very loyal and owner pleasing dog. Just give them plenty of work or they will find trouble to get into. I grew up with English pointers as well. They are great companions as well as hunters. We killed hundreds of wild birds over the pair we had in the '90's. Can't go wrong with either. I never have owned a Brittany but I could see one in my future.
Thanks Joe, and is it possible to hunt quail with just one dog? I've almost got my hunting buddy talked into getting one also. And in your experience do you think my wife could use an english pointer as a running companion and still be a good quail dog?
And at my camp, we have a large pine plantation. It is several different sections of pine triees at different ages, with a fari bit of hardwoods mixed in We burned a large section several years ago, and will be burning a different section soon. I've always seen quail when turkey and deer hunting, but i the past couple of years I have seen more cubbies, and larger ones. I think the burning has helped.
Both the GSP and the English Pointer have lots of energy so I don't see any problem with them being running companions. Just be prepared for them to have to "inspect" everything. They are very curious dogs and to say they put their nose to work would be an understatement. Absolutely you can hunt quail with one dog. Many people prefer to hunt just them and the dog. I've always had a pair but I have hunted them seperately countless times. When times were good I would take one dog out in the morning. I'd grab a bite to eat and take the other out in the evening. That was back when the birds were plentiful and I was a few pounds lighter. we would cover a lot of ground in a day.
Try to control your predators if you have a decent quail population. Coons, opposums, bobcats, and hawks can all be devistating to a quail population. Coons and opposums are easy to trap. I guess we'll just have to live with the hawks.
Funny you should bring the jogging thing up, Redfish. The Italian Spinone is supposed to be ideal for that. They are also an active dog but one that paces itself at about the same as it's owner. More of a loper than ripping all over the place like many of the pointing breeds.
Sometimes one or two guys are better off hunting just one dog. Two dogs can lead to overzealous competition and pushing up the birds prematurely. Of course, the best trained dogs learn to respect another dog's point. But the best case scenario often takes a lot more time and effort to perfect. It has been a bit of a challenge for me to get my three dogs to hunt together in a coordinated fashion but I have lots of time to spend working out the wrinkles. Indeed, not much else to spend my time on. So it's not a big issue for me. If your friend does acquire his own dog, I would recommend that you take just one out at a time until they are well on the way. Then introduce them to tandem hunting and be patient. Also, be cautious about taking your lab out with the quail dog. Many of them, especially Brittanys, will defer to retrievers and don't learn to retrieve well on their own. I'm experiencing that right now. Also, of course, some pointing dogs will learn "bad habits" of bumping birds from flushers. However, I was quite surprised that my Britt has sorted out pointing on her own even though started behind the flushing two labs.
Try to pick up your pup in April or May and it should be mature enough to start working in the field by September. Don't expect a lot. However, you might be surprised what happens. My younger lab, Opal, was pretty much a pheasant flushing/pointing/retrieving machine at 3.5 months! And I was working her alone. Was living in Montana at the time while Pearl and family were still here in Canada.
Joe's advice about switching dogs at midday is excellent. I will do that quite a bit, especially now that Pearl is getting older. The pointers and setters generally expend a lot more energy working fields than flushing labs do so I can usually keep my two going throughout the day once they're in shape (and it's not too hot!).
A suggestion for many of you quail hunters to keep in mind is that hunting quail with dogs does not necessarily require shooting them. The dogs don't care if the birds don't fall. They enjoy the work. And if you don't shoot the birds, you don't have to clean them, and there's more left for next year.
OHH I'll have to research the Spinone as well. It appears I'd have to drive across the country to be able to get one, but that's ok.
Oh, and if you plan on switching dogs through the day, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A CRATE. More than one fella has returned to change shifts and found the upholstery, headliner, etc. demolished in the vehicle from the frustrated dog left behind.
My Britt breeder was in South Central N. Dakota and he ships the pups all over the country. Charges a $100 extra. Of course, he knows which airlines to avoid and won't allow any long layovers, etc. He has been doing it for years without a hitch. If you find a conscientious breeder (and who wants to buy from anyone else?) they will help with transporting or advise if it's not feasible. If you find anything in ND, Northern Michigan, MN, even Iowa I may be able to help you out. Remember, I am coming your way for turkey hunting in April/May and would be more than happy to escort a pup down for you. By the way, what weekend are you tied up with the bachelor's bash? I don't want to be coming down then, of course.
OHH I hate to be the bearer of bad news but after your last e-mail saying you didn't think you would be able to make it I planned a canoe trip, an island trip and the bachelor party and I don't have any vacation time left to take off for turkeys. I could still take you on a saturday and sunday, but that's a long way to travel for only two days.
It is still going to be a few months before I am ready to buy the dog. I have to get settled in a new house first. And would like to already have the kennel built and everything in place.
That's okay. A weekend would be fine if I can make it. With my daughter's condition I don't think I could stay too long anyway. If the weather goes sour we can always go to a high fence turkey ranch (must be a lot of them a few hours away in Texas?) and I can shoot one in a corral. :-) Oh, and make sure we get plenty of hunting for the boneless variety wild turkeys. If I'm going to travel all that way I want the best. Getting shots is pretty easy I hear ... usually kept in a bottle and only released after a fried catfish dinner.
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