Hunting Mountain Quail in the Hoodoos.

Mustangs Rule

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Hunting Mountain Quail in the Hoodoos.



One summer, then the next summer about 45 years ago, I visited some friends in British Columbia, Canada. They were all very active outdoors men and women. We hiked glaciers, mountains, kayaked rivers. I did not stay for hunting season,,,wished I had. They hunted elk deer, moose and grouse.



One area up there was this weird, spooky, landscape,,,eroded down to these fins and narrow ridges. They were officially called the “Hoodoos”.



Years later I was living in a remote area of California. Hard to call any place there truly remote with 39,000,000 people.



Anyway, there were a whole series of very dry eroded big sandy canyons. They reminded me of those eroded areas in British Columbia so I called these dry canyons, “The Hoodoos” and the name stuck.



It was one of my regular areas to hunt and get a few mountain quail. There were lots of Pinyon Pine trees and the pinyon pine nuts were a favored food of Mountain Quail. Pinyon pine nuts are so sweet. Not at all pitchy like the ones bought in stores. These birds were so sweet too.



In a sporting goods store in the nearest big city, they had lots of game animals mounted. The mountain quail they had mounted there seemed simply enormous compared to the ones I was taking.



I asked about that and the old timers said that they were simply too over-hunted to get big, just like fish in a stream or deer. The old store owner said that not only were they much bigger back then but there were so many more of them



These Hoodoos looked like a sandy wasteland and had become a favorite area for off road vehicles. Without stressing or stretching you imagination too much you can image what the entire area came to look like.



Eventually the environmentalists prevailed and the Hoodoos were mostly designated as wilderness, the trash was cleaned up, vehicle caused erosion was mitigated and after the word got out that heavy fines were being levied for off road vehicle violations, “ The Hoodoos” were left in peace.



I was upset about not being able to use my Toyota Land Cruiser there myself,,,and I felt that designating such a place as wilderness was a waste, a trick,,,what good would it do, the place had been so beat up.



I stayed away from there for several years, then one day I drove to the wilderness boundary and grumbled as I was hiking up a wash that I and everybody else used to drive on.



By a little spring in the sand I saw lots tracks of mountain quail,,,the tracks seemed really big. I lost them quickly on dry ground but took a sagebrush covered ridge up to a small grove of Pinyon Pine trees dropping nuts. This grove which overlooked the spring, was once a place where off roaders camped, drank beer, shot up their cans,,,and bottles and often let their city dogs run around.



On the way up to the pinyon grove, real close to me, like virgin birds, I flushed two mountain quail,,,,in that first micro-second somethings seemed wrong,,,,they seemed too big,,,were they chuckars ????but chuckars were not here.



I was carrying a side by side Ithaca SKB in 20 gauge. Truth be known I am a very poor wing shot. I make up for that shooting deficit with a rifle, but with a shotgun I am always amazed when a bird falls out of the sky.



Much to my total surprise I did a double, the first of my life, a hard double too, as one flushed forward and at my first shot a holder flushed behind me.



I was amazed, at my shooting and at how huge these mountain quail were. More hunting trips there later,,,,walking past where I and every body else once drove, showed that there were now plenty of huge mountain quail where once there were just a few small ones.



MR
 
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