Bourjaily: Which Bird Would You Shoot First?

Quail

This covey has just taken wing – the tail-end bird is still tucking his landing gear away. Which one to shoot first?

The hunter in the picture has chosen his intended victim wisely. Bird number three is the highest and most obvious, but number one is the better call. It’s not only in front of, but lower than the two behind it. When the first bird folds, our hunter will have two birds right where he wants them, above the bead and easy to see, while the lower birds will be “lost” behind his gun. Bird number two seems the obvious candidate for the second shot. It’s beginning to bank left, closer to the hunter in the picture. He should shoot his double, then reload quickly. Sometimes six birds only represent the first wave of a multi-stage covey flush.

The other reason not to shoot the obvious “candy bird” is that everyone else shoots at it, too. If you look closely you’ll see a wad above bird six, and pellets in the air to the right of it, showing up as white dots. Shooter two (off-camera) has picked bird number three, and it looks as if he missed. Best thing for him to do is stick with the bird he’s shooting at until it goes down.