Excused Absence

October 15, the opening day of quail season, I stopped by Brad’s school, Cocopah Middle/Elementary School in Scottsdale, and told the Principal that Brad had a doctors appointment that afternoon and he wouldn’t be back. It was an easy OK for the principal, one less kid to worry about. At the time, Cocopah, besides being an open school and unbelievably noisy, was the largest school of its type in the U.S., with over 3,000 students.

Brad’s appointment was really a quail hunt on the southern slopes of Sombrero Peak, two hours northeast of our home. Jake Schroder and Candy and Ned, his Brittanies, accompanied us. The week before, during one of our quests for Indian artifacts, we had scouted this place and knew that it was loaded with birds!

It was hot, well over a hundred, as we parked our 4WD truck, unloaded Candy, Ned and Rooster, my Brittany, on a road that overlooked a mile long sloping hill that ran toward the upper part of Tonto Basin. Within a hundred yards the dogs were down on a hard point. The three of us walked in, up came the Gambels and our guns erupted, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam and five birds fell.

We held our ground as the dogs ran down the cripples and then moved ahead for the next covey. This scenario was repeated six times and before sundown we had three limits of Gambel Quail. The coveys were huge, fifty to a hundred birds each, and even after chasing the singles and taking out forty-five birds, there were still over four hundred left! The dogs and all three of us were worn out, but what a great hunt!

On the way home, Brad told me, “Dad, this was a lot more ‘funner’ than school!”