A friend of mine in Osage County has restored the woodlands on his property and converted about 40 acres of fescue to one of the most diverse stands of native wildflowers and grasses that I have ever seen. The quail, turkeys and other wildlife have definitely responded. this landowner burns at least 1/2 of his farm each year, but the burns are in scattered patches and never has an entire field been burned.
He invited me and my sons down this weekend to "thin out the quail". We decided to hunt Saturday morning for a couple of hours before the boys headed back north for home before the approaching snowstorm hit Missouri.
With about an inch remaining after the last snow we were hoping the birds would be limiting their movement and sticking to the brushy cover. However, once we got into the largest of the fields on the farm, we discovered quail footprints leading out into the heart of the field, most likely searching for native wildflower and weed seed. We were also amazed at the amount of songbirds in the field, most likely also after some of the plentiful seed. Rabbit tracks were plentiful throughout the field.
We found the tracks of at least two coveys, but only found one covey of at least 15 birds after about 20 minutes. They flushed wild, well ahead of the dogs, but we were able to see approximately where they landed. We spent the next hour hunting the singles.
We came in downwind of where the birds flew back into the cover, to give the dogs the best chance of scenting the singles. Andrew's Draathar "Chief" locked up on point along an edgefeathered fenceline. Bird flushed, Tony shot and the bird went down.
I am not sure why we were shooting so well, but a total of three shots were fired and a total of three birds fell. All three birds were found by the dogs after they went down. Only one bird held for a point, which is why I love close working dogs, we were able to keep the dogs within a few yards of us and not a bird flushed out of gun range. Each of the dogs got in on a retrieve, so they were excited and in full hunt mode.
It was getting time for the boys to hit the road, so we didn't attempt to hunt the other fields on the farm. But the 90 minute hunt that morning was another for the family hunt memory book.