If you are like me, the past couple of weeks have been dreadful. I am sad. I am mad. And I am feeling a little empty inside. Sunday, January 29th, 2017 marked the final day of upland season here in California. My thoughts are dwelling on the fact that I did not get to hunt as much as I really wanted to this season. I am also a bit perturbed at those birds I missed with my poor marksmanship (when I actually saw birds). What would I not give for one more autumn day in the field chasing wild quail? A chance to redeem myself?
Alas. Fall is over. Winter is in full swing. Winter is death. The end of all things. The ender of seasons. The boots and vest are packed away. The guns have already been cleaned and oiled. The light is getting dimmer. Darkness…
But there is promise of light!
Over the past few weeks, California has seen a decent amount of rain, even snow in some areas. Along with California, other western states have seen record rainfall! We have had so much rain in California that some sources are stating that we are no longer in drought! Rain does wonders! With the rain comes promise of life… and promise of great quail seasons for western states in 2017-2018!
I was out on the final day of upland season and there were a ton of green weeds sprouting up. These weeds can be essential for winter survival for quail. If this rain continues, winter temps remain mild, we could have a good batch of birds headed into the breeding season. It looks like the perfect combination for a great season! Cross your fingers! Say your prayers!
I ended my season chasing after a large winter covey of quail. My short, stumpy legs did their best to catch up with the singles breaking off from the main covey. Up and down the steep terrain. Huffing and puffing. Wishing I would have refrained from eating that whole 1-pound burrito that morning. It was either my crappy aim or the bent sight on my Ithaca 37 (I discovered this after my hunt) that prevented me from ending the season with a heavy vest. Seeing 5o plus birds in a covey and missing every bird I saw was a humbling experience.
Beaten. Tired. Forsaken. With trembling legs on the side of a hill, I cursed and shook my fist like some villain in a movie. The sun made its descent behind the mountains. No more chances. My face was frozen in a scowl. About hundred yards out I saw a pair of Valley Quail rocket out from brush into the ravine below. I threw the old 37 across my shoulder. My face melted into a smile. I would not trade this in for anything.
Sitting here, two weeks later, I am still missing days like that. Time to pull those guns out of the closet. Wipe off the excess oil. Time to hit the range. See you in October.
Happy Hunting and God Bless!