What do you think this means?
I was beginning to wonder how the long, wet spring had affected hatch rates on our local valley quail population. For weeks, I’d been woken up by their calls, from every direction around the house, and watched pairs coming for the water in our backyard. But no chicks.
Here’s where it gets eerie: our monthly gabfest of guys was that night, and I was marinating some valley quail breasts taken from that dark corner of the U.S. I can’t tell you more about. Buddy’s turn to run, so the gate opens, he lights out, and … vanishes!
As I get clear of civilization, the telltale pitt-pitt of a panicked covey breaks the silence. Rounding a corner, there’s Buddy locked solid and a quail cock doing the distraction thing – three-foot flights that drive a pointing dog crazy. Then, the best thing that happened to me all day: a covey flush of tiny, feathered bumblebees – chicks not a few days old, all scattering to tree limbs, sage brush and the far horizon.
Buddy still locked, looking to me for direction.
Praise, heeling away, and a great run for us both. And then …
Driving to the barbecue with my marinated quail (see below), the black pavement of my country road is suddenly striped with an animated line of more chicks, mom riding point and dad riding drag.
It’s gonna be a great quail season.
Do you seek meaning in the little things? What’s your season looking like?
My go-to game bird marinade:
- Some red wine.
- Some Italian salad dressing (no parmesan cheese)
- Some Grey Poupon mustard
Mix them all in a Zip-Loc bag. Soak birds or bird pieces for a couple hours. Throw ‘em on a hot grill until rare.
Serve with your favorite beverage and good friends, and bring enough to share with non-hunters.