Out doing some recon in the truck at my usual spot, staying well below the County line so as not to be rousted by my buddy the Sheriff again.
I'm going back and forth on little access roads and cuts in the pan looking for little grey chickens coming off roost and going for food or water.
Skip ahead to...putting down a little road, idling really, when same starts to turn to sugar sand.
I hardly noticed 'till it was too late and thankfully it had rained a few days ago so there was some traction. I kept my tires in the track, locked it in 2nd gear (2WD, auto trans
) and was now committed to wherever this thing was going.
Well, it started to berm up good on each side and a 1/4 mile ahead I could see an elevated road crossing with an armco barrier.
I'm no longer looking for birds rather, a way out of this mess as it looks like I'm going to be stuck but good. At least it will be close to a road when I pay 150$ to get winched out.
I'm pretty screwed when....at the end of this thing there are quail running across this cut turned ravine and, rabbits, tweety's etc.
Oh this is just great. I'm going to be stuck 6' below the road bed, in a wash full of sugar sand with game running across my hood using it for a stepping stone.
I've got around 150' left of this mess 'till I'm out of real eastate and calling a wrecker. Thankfully another person as "bright" as me saw fit to travel this route once before and hooked a hard left in desperation into the berm and, knocked some of it down and left a nice track. I gassed it, crossed it up and literally launched out of this wash onto a flat into waist high cover and, QUAIL so I killed the engine immediately.
I'm in the northeast portion of an open field with a road 50' to the east and a residence on the other side of saiid road, a residence to the north 200' away and, it's wide open to the south and west.
And quail feeding like nothing happened all around me.
Okaaaay.....now what. I'm too close to homes to shoot. I don't want the bids to bolt and head back across the road or wash onto private property.
There's 10-15 of them just pecking around making little quail noises. Really neat actually as I've never been this close to them seeing them feeding and carrying on like I'm not even there, even after crashing their party in a flying, black 4500 lb. monster.
So I sit there in my truck, watching, giggling inside and waiting. And I wait....I'm waiting for them to mosey on a little away from the road and the properties so I can flank them from the wash and bust them into a southerly direction. They take they're sweet time and finally blend in to the brush. So I fire up the truck, pull it off the field and onto the northerly road's shoulder and park it. I'm going over a plan in my head and marking where I need to be to shoot safely and not disturb the heck out of everyone on Sunday morning at 10:00 AM. I grab my Benelli, hop into the wash and start my stalk, hit my mark and come up out of the wash.
They are tucked into the thick stuff now and running like crazy all over the place- I think one ran into my leg!
Finally a few flush and head straight back over the wash to private property. I aint fast enough and have no shot. Two more come up and I miss a perfect double crossing left.
I'm too slow and didn't lead them enough.
The northern neighbor, where the quail are trying to go, comes outside to tell me his property lines and I thank him and go back to my hunt. I get two more to come up, same as before, a clean miss- that's four I should have had in the bag!
I was a little rattled about the neighbor watching me.
I'm also trying to keep them corralled on the northern fringe of this field but it's like herding cats and it aint working!
But, no excuses. Just lame, clean misses. I'm choking big time and they are slipping away. 4 more came up and took off north way in front of me, no shot....
Then, IT happened.
A massive covey rise 40 yards or so in front of on the northern fringe of this field. It was HUGE. I kinda stood there frozen and dumbfounded. I've never, ever seen anything close to this big. I could have sent some shots into the group and maybe knocked a few down but, that aint ethical, it was heavy cover etc. etc. and the grey cloud all landed across the wash onto the north side, private property. I had no clue they were there. I was preoccupied with the 10 or 15 birds that were driving me nuts.
Wow. Just incredible. Nature blew my litttle mind.
I turned around to see the neighbor waving his arms I think and, gesturing something I can't exactly make out. I figure I might be on a property line so I unload and schlep back over to my truck. Hop in then flip a "U" and go over and talk to the neighbor. I apologized for the noise and semi-proximity. He said the noise was not a problem, he didn't hear squat and I wasn't too close for comfort. He was just signaling his property line to me and for me to stay on my side of the wash etc. Ah, okidoki.
I had a permission slip on me (always do) and almost asked for a leg-up on his land but there were kids playing and horses and stuff so...pass. He did comment on the rise and asked how'd I do? "Oh I scored big time alright..." And.... we both laughed at my empty bag.
We shot the cheese for a few after that and he was a really nice gent. I've never felt comfy hunting a couple of hundred yards from a residence, even though it's legal. Probably never will. That's just me. He had no issues so I'm glad for that. It kinda screwed with me as I was a little distracted with a super small window to shoot in but the misses were all me. I could have had four, two doubles but, I missed- badly. "Bird-fever" struck and struck hard.
The desert is greening up nicely and if the rains keep up we'll see some good numbers next year for sure. 3 more weeks and the season is up and the lil' ghost's 'll get some rest.
And so do I.
After I wear the finish off my new Benelli practicing with it at the SC's course. No more missed doubles!