Sports > Schools
Tradition never dies: Keeping quail hunting going with another generation of hunters
BY Luke Clayton, Special to Star Local News
Back in the mid-1960s, when I was fourteen, shooting quail was a part of life I thought would never change.
When I wanted to go quail hunting, I either walked up the a covey behind our farmhouse in east Texas or, on those special Saturday mornings, was invited to tag along with my brother-in-law and his big, raw-boned, white pointer Toler. Watching that hard-working, old pointer cast downwind of a likely patch of quail cover, seeing him go on point and then walking up behind him to flush the birds and push a load of chilled No. 8-shot after the departing brown bombshells was the experience that I best remember about my formative quail hunting years.
It’s the stuff that got me really hook on upland bird hunting.
In my early 60s, I have so many fond memories of past quail hunts to reflect upon. I often get a bit sentimental thinking of old dogs and people I have shared special times afield with that are no longer around for me to hunt with; dogs and men that kindled a fire in my hunting career many years ago that continues to burn brightly today. But as fond as these memories are and as comforting as they are to reflect upon, they are bittersweet because of the absence of wild quail today. I feel really badly for all those youngsters that will never have the opportunity to experience a covey rise or watch a pointer or setter freeze into a rock solid point while running at full speed.
But, after an afternoon quail hunt at Poetry Shooting Club with Walter Patton and my 15-year-old grandson Luke Zimmerman, my hope is renewed.
Patton, the owner of the club (214-728-2755 or: poetryshootingclub.com) hunted quail as a youth on the same land where he operates his hunting preserve and shares my feelings and love of the sport of quail hunting.
“When I decided to turn my land into a quail shooting preserve, I vowed to keep the price of the hunts reasonable,” Patton said. “My goal was to provide a top-notch quail hunting experience for the average working man and create a place where kids could be given the opportunity to hunt quail. Granted, wild birds are all but extinct across much of their previous range, but hunting flight-conditioned birds is a very good alternative.
“Today, it is the only alternative for the vast majority of quail hunters.”
After spending a few hours with Patton, his pointer Heisman and my grandson, I can attest to the fact that these liberated birds are strong flyers.
In attempts to play clean up for birds that escaped my grandson’s shot patterns, I missed as many as I hit. I am sure I would’ve enjoyed this type of quail shooting back in the day when I was chasing wild birds through green briar thickets and patches of blackberry vines. A lot can be said for shooting birds in relatively open country where shot opportunities abound.
Patton offers guided hunts as well as hunts for folks that wish to bring their own dogs.
“There are lots of bird hunters around today that still have bird dogs,” he said. “But even in far west Texas, quail number are so low that most folks simply won’t shoot them in hopes that the few seed birds left will somehow repopulate what once was a seemingly boundless resource. They can come here without all the expense associated with quail leases, i.e. travel, motels, vet bills and enjoy a few hours of really good shooting.”
Poetry Shooting Club also kennels hunting dogs.
Patton works his clients’ dogs regularly and keeps them in shape so their owners, mostly busy folks from urban areas, can come out and enjoy shooting quail with their own dogs as often as they can slip away from work for a few hours. It’s a win-win situation for everyone and its keeping bird dog ownership and quail hunting alive for many veteran quail hunters that had all but given up hope on hunting over their own dogs.
Patton is a natural-born teacher, offering gun safety and hands-on training for youngsters that come out to experience their first quail hunt.
The glory days of quail hunting in Texas might be gone forever, but I am thrilled to have found a place where the average hunter can enjoy a sport that is as fine as anything the outdoors has to offer.
My hat is off to Patton and if the instant response to his first season in business is any indication, I feel he will have the opportunity to introduce many more youngsters to the thrills of hunting upland birds.
Hog hunting tournament
Harry’s Wild Hog Roundup is scheduled for Friday through Sunday.
This will be the 50th year for the popular heavy hog hunting tournament headquartered in Lone Oak and directed by Jess Worley. Entry fee is $200 per hunter and prizes are paid for the top three heaviest hogs. Registration is Friday and hogs will be weighed in Sunday morning.
There is a barbecue dinner after the weigh-in.
Hogs must be harvested from free range; no hunting allowed inside game-proof fence. Headquarters is Worley’s Welding (903-456-3524).
Big blue catfish on good bite at Tawakoni
Catfish guide Larry Thomas noted that every trip to Lake Tawakoni the past two weeks resulted in at least one blue catfish weighing 30 pounds or more.
“Our biggest the past week tipped the scales at 60 pounds and we’ve boated lots of fish in the 20- to 35-pound range,” he said. “The best bait is large pieces of fresh cut bait. Shad can be tough to catch this time of year, but they are hard to beat for bait. Filleted pieces of rough fish such as carp, buffalo or drum are also excellent baits.”
Circle hooks work well and anglers need to remember not to jerk to set the hook. Let the fish put a big bow in the rod and simply begin reeling quickly and lean back on the rod. The circle hook twists into the corner of the fishes’ mouth.
For more information on catching the trophy blues, contact Thomas at: 940-229-0288.
Cabela’s King Kat Catfish tournament (kingkatusa.com) will be held at Tawakoni on March 2.
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