Folks who know me will attest that quail hunting is one of several things that I get all yippy about. Unfortunately the 2009-10 Texas bird crop wasn’t much to yip for.

After two consecutive blistering summers there were scant few coveys and lots of bird dogs and hunters riding the bench. I actually went the entire season without firing a shot, but just before the final bell I did get to fire a few frames on one of the rare patches of Texas ground that held a huntable density of birds.

By nod from Joe Crafton and Bubba Wood with Park Cities Quail in Dallas, I tagged along on a two-day hunt to photograph a group of quail aficionados at Mesa Vista Ranch in the Texas Panhandle. Owner T. Boone Pickens had graciously donated the hunt to raise funds for the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch, and his guests were treated to a literal hunt of a lifetime. Through extensive water management and habitat improvement, Boone has transformed what was once a large piece of dusty cow country into one of the most productive quail factories in the Southwest. Rainfall goes a long way to fuel quail production, but during drought times Mesa Vista makes sure that the key components of water, forage, nesting, and screening cover are still abundantly intact.

In a year when quail slipped way down the priority list for most, Boone’s dogs got a workout, his guides stayed busy, his hunters found coveys, and a pile of money was raised for quail research. Winner winner, chicken dinner.

After the hunt, I poured a selection of the photos into a hardbound mini coffee table book and a slideshow CD for the attending hunters. Those items will also be used to jumpstart the bidding on the Mesa Vista 2011 hunt that will be auctioned off next week at the annual Park Cities Quail fundraiser. This was a rewarding project for all involved.

Click here to see these, and more shots from my quail and upland bird hunting archive.

Mesa Vista Ranch

Chest-high to a bird dog

Scatterguns and plum thickets

You can run, but you can’t hide

Skint back

Hunkered in a creekdraw

This season’s most valuable player

5 Responses to “Point!”

  1. Dan Terry says:

    Great shots, TB!

  2. Brandon Boehme says:

    Was glad to find that someone else out there shares my love for quail hunting. It was a horrible year (again), but we found enough coveys in Sweetwater and Estelline to keep us coming back. If it were not for the dog work, I would have given up on quail hunting a long time ago. This year was both heartbreaking (I lost my 5 yr old GSP to sudden kidney failure) and exciting (my new 8 month old GSP found her stride and ended the year on a high note – pointing, backing, and retrieving like a 3 yr old), but my worse day quail hunting is still better than my best day at the office. I now have 8 months to work with the newest recruit and keep the rest of my string in shape b/c next season is gonna be a good year for all of us quail lovers!

  3. Tosh Brown says:

    Good to hear from you BB. Pray that the rains keep falling and maybe we’ll be back in the birds next year.

  4. Kenny Smith says:

    Thanks, Tosh, for sharing your work, I always learn something. Excellent photography.

  5. Ed says:

    Wow, what an awesome closeup on that Beretta 20 ga. Great photographs as always.

    That redfish trip looked like a helluva good time too. I want to catch a redfish on a flyrod one day.

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