Hunting For, and From, Memories

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Published on: Sep. 2, 2005

Last revision: Nov. 22, 2010

managed expressly for them, their home range can shrink to as little as 20 acres. It amazes me, though, how many times I find coveys within 100 yards of where I found them on previous hunts. They can be real “homebodies” if not disturbed too often.

Of course, you can’t count on finding a covey in the same patch of cover every time, but a memory of past covey locations helps you hunt more efficiently. Some hunters who repeatedly find coveys in the same locales even name them using convenient landmarks, such as the “old barn covey” or the “blackberry-hell covey.”

In addition to mentally filing away covey locations, it helps to remember where the birds go when flushed.

Failing to relocate the birds after a covey rise, I sometimes sit down and wait in the general vicinity to see whether the birds start calling. Not only do I get another chance at the birds that day, but next time I flush that covey, I’ll have a better idea of where to look for them.

I was surprised to learn that a covey I hunted in a bottom of the Missouri River was flying across a levee (after I lost sight of them) and landing in a band of cottonwoods along the river. Those birds passed over plenty of good brush and grass cover to get to those trees. I didn’t have much luck hitting them in the dense timber, but at least I could locate the flushed covey on future hunts.

If faced with a similar situation, you could alter your direction of approach to force the birds to flush to a different area, but there is no guarantee that the birds won’t defy your best efforts to push them somewhere they don’t want to go.

The circular, tail-to-tail, night-roosting pattern of quail produces another clue to areas used by coveys: piles of droppings. These often are found in good over such as weedy fields or in areas with shrubby cover (though usually not under a tree canopy).

Roost piles can be good places to hunt early or late in the day, when birds are near their roost site. Whether you find birds in the area or not, a fresh roost pile is proof positive that they are there somewhere. It always lightens my heavy gun a bit to see such a positive sign, especially after a lot of walking without other encouragement. I try to

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