Woodcock – The County Road Covey

Just having finished reading “The Best Of Nash Buckingham”, by George Bird Evans, it dawned upon me that I had missed a wonderful little interlude in my past of woodcock shooting. Thinking over the potential stories, should I do one long, long one or 5 smaller? My choice was a quintet of stories, beginning with “The County Road Covey”. The time frame is the end of the1978, 1979, 1980 bird seasons and the 2006 deer hunting seasons, and the stories take place in Georgia and Texas.

The County Road Covey

We have a tendency to name all of our coveys of quail, generally after a significant landscape or man, made feature that corresponds to where, over time, we usually find the birds. However, we only found “The County Road Covey” one time.

James Walton and I were, slowly cruising the county road, heading to another likely quail spot. We were cruising in his “Quailmobile”, a, 1979, 280Z with a matching 3 dog trailer. We’d even cruised to Arizona in it! What a blast and how many funny looks did we get during the, over 3,000 mile round trip? However, this time we were looking in south Georgia for a sign that would locate our next hunt for us.

Driving slowly along, we both noticed what kinda’ looked like a sloppily, coiled snake ahead. As we got closer and stopped, it was, of all things, a covey of quail, coveyed up or roosting, in the middle of the road! For both of us; this was a new one, this was a first, this was something we’d never see again and we stopped the Z and sat there stunned!

Getting out of the car, walking within 20 feet of the covey and looking closely at the birds, they were roosting, probably a midday snooze prior to their afternoon of foraging. But here came the alarm call and they exploded off the road and flew about 200 yards and lit along a fence row behind a farm house.

Without our guns, James and I walked up and knocked on the door of the house. We explained what had happened and inquired, successfully, if we could go after the birds. The farmer thought this was one of the funniest stories he had ever heard, and followed us after them.

Good dog work helped us to bag four birds and as we, dogs, farmer and hunters, walked back towards the farmhouse, I began to notice some big, doodle bug holes in the mushy ground. Then, tweep, tweep, flutter and a strange bird got airborne in front of us. “Shoot him, that’s a woodcock,” cried the farmer as James and I fumbled with our guns and missed our first two shots. Then as the bird reached it’s best flight attitude and altitude, instead of flying away, the bird circled us once and we missed our second shots too! This event getting our attention we hunted back to the farmhouse, but with no results.

The farmer told us how to get to the land we were looking for. We scored on some more quail, but didn’t see another woodcock, until almost one year later.