Kirk Deeter’s blog on smallmouth as the ultimate fly rod fish got to thinking about birds, specifically, what’s the ultimate game bird for an upland gundog? Unlike flyfishing, the world of bird hunting has no equivalent to the primacy of the fly angler’s trout. In fact, we’re a pretty fractured bunch. I suppose that in terms of sheer numbers and participation, pheasants come closest to being the most ubiquitous species, but by no means are pheasants the “face” of upland hunting like trout is so dominantly the face of flyfishing. So maybe the analogy doesn’t hold, but I’m going to try, anyway.

What’s your personal ultimate gamebird for your dog? This isn’t a bucket list question of what you’d like to hunt, but rather what bird you think represents the best, most rewarding challenge to you and your dog’s hunting style. And for many of us it probably will be pheasants. And that’s cool. I absolutely love hunting pheasants, the wily, frustrating bastards, but as a pointing dog owner I don’t think (and I’m sure this will touch off some debate here…) pheasants are the ultimate gamebird for a dog like my setter.

Only one bird occupies that spot for me, and it’s the bobwhite quail. I could wax poetic about how the bob is the bird closest to my heart, the bird I grew up hunting, etc, etc. ad nauseum, but the truth is, I think for me the bobwhite quail is the best compliment for the abilities and characteristics of the dog I own.

Now that’s not to say I’m not going to try my damndest to knock it off the perch. I’ve got sharptails, sage grouse, huns and mountain grouse on tap for this fall, and desert quail if I can swing it, any of which may usurp king Bob’s position, but right now ‘ol Colinus Virginianus is it for me.

But what about you? High desert chukars? Deep woods ruffs? Woodcock? What bird best compliments your dog?