Year of the Quail

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AS I’VE WRITTEN HERE previously, there is a positive relationship between rainfall and quail hunting in Texas. Yes, there are habitat issues that can be blamed for their extinction in many areas east of IH-35; but on the quail factory ranches of west and south Texas, lack of birds in certain years just ain’t that hard to figure out. We can postulate about parasites and we can speculate about predation until we’re blue in the face, but at the end of the day it just needs to rain.

Last season we saw the beginnings of a quail rebound when ample rains during the prior summer lifted us from the deathtrap of a seven-year “drought of record”. Everyone agreed that timely rains again in 2015 might kick off another quail boom.

Two wet years back to back in Texas? Pffft, that’ll never happen…

But it did. And it came in the form of El Nino. And if I was in the market for a new birddog, right now, that’s exactly what I’d name him.

The quail season that ended on February 27, 2016 was one for the record books. Unfortunately, I wasn’t on the shotgun end of very many hunts, this season, but I did get to photograph some good ones. Two that stand out were private shoots that I did for groups who own leases around Hebbronville. I’m not going to quote numbers of coveys pointed on those hunts, because it really doesn’t matter and many of you would call BS. Suffice to say, though, lots of birds were killed and the dogs were really tired. As were the hunters.

Could next year be even better? Well, it’s raining right now in Texas and has been for the past five days. Here’s hoping.

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Moms, dads, and young’uns gather for their annual South Texas quail hunt

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Stylish

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Head-high to a hoss in Hebbronville

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Giddy-yup

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 Sliding in for the flush

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 The MVP on any wild quail hunt

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Orange gloves on horseback are easier to spot than short dogs in tall weeds

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Nothing pen-raised here

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Pick me?

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Whiff-o-goodness

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Field brunch

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Gearing up in the Rolling Plains

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Lunch break in Ballinger

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Panhandlers

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Pushing a road covey in South Texas

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Best seat in the house

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Bobs on the wing

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Attaboy, Trip

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Hey, over here….

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Special delivery

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Working singles

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Chow time for the chain gang

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