Quail Hunting Fixes
for human consumption.
A dog’s tendency to bite into game is often magnified by hunters who attempt to forcefully pull game out of their dogs’ mouths. Tugging encourages a dog to clamp down harder.
If a dog refuses to give up a bird, place your hand along the skin that joins hind leg to side and pull up while at the same time saying "drop." The sensation will cause the dog to reflexively open its mouth. With stubborn dogs I have had to lift their hind feet off the ground before getting them to drop the quarry into my hand, but I never tugged, regardless of how stubborn they were.
Playing fetch games using a frozen quail is a good way to practice this release system. The bird gets slimy and dirty after a couple of retrieves, but it is good training. A frozen bird further discourages a dog from clamping down.
It also pays to feed a dog an hour or so before a hunt. This reduces a dog’s feeding instincts, which makes it less prone to bite into birds. If a dog doesn’t want to eat, drizzling honey or maple syrup over its food is often all the encouragement that’s needed.
Force-breaking a dog to retrieve also solves hard-mouth problems. A good description of this method can be found in Bill Tarrant’s book, Best Way To Train Your Gun Dog - The Delmar Smith Method.
Wing Shooting Problems
Why do you miss when you shoot at quail? You can come up with plenty of technical excuses for your shots straying, such as the fit of shotgun to shooter, mounting of shotgun to shoulder and cheek, stance, swing and lead. However, most quail hunters miss their birds for two basic reasons.
One is a lack of shooting practice. Your mother may have told you to practice the piano when you were a kid. If you didn’t, you probably didn’t develop into much of a pianist. The same principle goes with wingshooting. You have to practice to gain proficiency.
Most of us, even if we gave our best efforts, would never make the Olympic shooting team. That level of shooting requires superior talent, hand-eye coordination and reflexes, but most of us can become solid wing shots through regular practice.
I’m not a great shooter, but I usually connect with quail because I work at it. After quail season I shoot a little hand trap - maybe a box or two