The Big Country – A Short Hunt

Quail season ended on February 15th, Monday a week, so Layla and I were driving out to Millersview, a short hour drive from our ranch, to have a go at some birds. Sonny and Red were snuggled up in their kennels in the Jeep being pulled by our Suburban and we were all ready for some bird action!

We always stopped by the ranch house to visit before we went out to hunt on the lease and this trip was no different, but the rancher cautioned us not to hunt his near trap. In his vernacular, that meant, the field closest to the ranch house. He added that the State Trapper hadn’t picked up his traps out of that one, but he had removed all of the cyanide traps for the coyotes. The coyotes played “hob” with the rancher’s goats, wantonly and indiscriminately killing the young ones, just for the fun of it! The cyanide traps were baited with rancid meat and would draw a dog to them too, especially a far ranging bird dog, but again, the rancher assured me that, by physical count, all of the cyanide traps had been picked up.

Feeling better, we began our hunt one trap removed from the near one. Scenting conditions were near perfect and the first dog out was Red. Not over 10 minutes later he locked down hard on point. Hurrying up to the point, we walked in expecting a bevy, but only 3 birds exploded out of the knee high grass, our guns boomed 3 times, 2 fell and were quickly retrieved by Red. He hadn’t run over a hundred more yards, when he spun around and locked down. We hurried on up to the point, walked in on them and 7 or 8 birds were in this covey. We boomed 4 times, 2 more fell, were retrieved nicely, this was a good start, 4 birds out of a covey of 10 or 12, we’d better not shoot anymore and leave these to seed for next year.

We kenneled up Red, drove to another trap and Sonny was next out. Out he came like a rocket, he was hyper because of our shooting, so I whistled him back and we got down to serious hunting. He was working cross wind about 50 yards ahead of us, when he yelped and jumped into the air, my first thought was rattler as we both broke into a run toward the dog.

Sonny kept flopping around, yelping to high heaven! Running up to him, we quickly saw the problem – the trapper had left one of his traps and Sonny had, literally, run across it. It was no problem unlocking the trap from its hold on the dog’s front leg then digging up the spike anchoring it in the ground.

Fuming, we stopped hunting, loaded up Sonny, hurried to the ranch house and I’d cooled off by the time we showed the rancher the trap we “found” and was in no mood for any more quail hunting until the trapper had removed ALL of his traps from the property. If he could remove them by next weekend, maybe we could get one more hunt in?