Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Back in Business

After a rather lackluster bird season last year I've taken a major step toward a remedy.  I picked up this guy last week and I'm hanging my hopes on him for the fall.  He's 3 1/2 years old, one of the lightest colored Brittanys I've ever seen, gentle personality and aside from needing a little re-socializing he's a good fit in our house.  Not exactly an action shot but this is the only time he stops moving long enough to snap a picture.

Call me a glutton for the taking the hard way or a sucker for the less fortunate, either way he was far from a sure thing.  He'd gotten about a year of training before the trainer gave up on finding a home for him, parked him in a run and fed him and watered him.  I'm not sure he left that run for a year or so and I'm dead positive he'd never seen the inside of a truck or a house since he was whelped.  He spent the first hour of the ride home pinned against the window in the back corner of the truck, not entirely panicked but far from comfortable.  I had to carry him through the door into the house several times before he went willingly.  Stairs, dark rooms, even furniture were all new.  Imagine the thoughts in that head.

I took him over to Maurice's on Saturday morning and all the necessary parts were present.  There's stuff you can teach and stuff he has to be born with, and if he doesn't have the latter you're pretty much SOL.  Fortunately he wants to find birds and is captivated by one in flight.  He points too, meaning he can be taught.   Give him a couple of months of polishing and I'm feeling fairly good about the opener.  My wife seems to think he's a quick learner and from what I've seen so far I'd have to agree.

It's funny how things come into your life.  Back in the spring when I started thinking about this I never would have pictured a dog like him would be the outcome.  I suppose it all just has a way of working out.  We're calling him Wyatt.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Quail Economics

Last Sunday morning I was flipping through the latest issue of Garden & Gun and stumbled upon a piece on an interesting project in Alabama.  Some guys in one of the poorest sections of the state are doing their best to make lemonade out of the lemons they've been given, so to speak.  West of Selma is an area known as the Black Belt, called such due to the tint of the soil, and lacking any traditional economic development appeal certain locals have decided to pitch it as a sporting destination for, of all things, bobwhite quail.

It's compared to the Robert Trent Jones Trail of Golf and a little research reveals that they're not putting all of their eggs in the quail basket, which is probably a good hedge.  offers deer and turkey hunting along with freshwater (read BASS) fishing.  The quail hunting may in fact be an add-on, albeit an appropriate one.

By most counts, the sport of bobwhite hunting is headed more and more toward a preserve experience.  With wild birds getting harder to come by and a society moving ever faster toward instant gratification, preserves are the solution for the weekend warrior who wants to get in, maximize his quality time, and get on to the next diversion.  It's not for me; I'd rather walk all day and find one covey than spend three hours kick-starting birds.  But it may keep just enough people interested in the sport to give some of the efforts at restoring wild populations a chance to gain traction.

Call it what you want, but restoring wild populations is ultimately a numbers game scored in dollars and hands on deck.  A relatively small number of people with deep pockets and, as is often the case with deep pockets, strong political connections could provide the dollars.  Hands on deck, however, depends on people.  Lots of people.  And to get people interested you have to give them a taste of it.  It'll be interesting to see how The Quail Trail pans out and more interesting still to see if it spawns any enthusiasts, activists, or disciples.

By the way, for those of you unfamiliar with Garden & Gun it's worth a look.  There's also an article in this same issue about Nash Buckingham's legendary shotgun.