For bird hunters who live in the northern half of the country, winter can be bleak. Winds howl, snow piles up and grouse, woodcock, quail and pheasant seasons (except on certain reservation lands in South Dakota) have closed. Hunting clubs, preserves and game farms are open but are still somewhat weather-dependent.
Some friends of ours leave their bird dogs at home and turn to ice fishing. Others hunker down and do their best to survive with mental capacity intact. There is another option, though.
Go south. Bird hunting seasons are still open in many southern states. Here’s just a sample.
• Arizona: Gambel’s, Mearn’s and scaled quail seasons open until February 9.
• Georgia: ruffed grouse and bobwhite quail seasons open until February 28.
• Kansas: bobwhite quail, pheasant & prairie chicken open until January 31.
• Louisiana: woodcock season open until January 31; bobwhite quail season open until February 28.
• North Carolina: woodcock season open until January 25.
• Oklahoma: bobwhite quail season open until February 15.
• Texas: bobwhite quail season open until February 23.
Jerry and I can vouch for hunting in most of these states but we retain a special feeling for quail hunting in the deserts of southern Arizona. The warm, sunny days are ideal for outdoor activities. Terrain can be a little tough, though, as cacti abound and the hillsides can be steep and filled with sharp rocks. But three native quail species, Mearn’s, Gambel’s and scaled, are striking to see, generally abundant enough and fun to hunt.
Too, evenings bring stunning sunsets behind the Tuscon Mountain range when all one has to do is decide what’s for dinner—big steaks and beer or authentic Mexican and margaritas.
Thanks to our friend and neighbor Jeff Hintz who shares beautiful photographs from southern Arizona.