Quail hunting brings back memories

Jan. 12, 2013 @ 04:14 PM

As an avid hunter, I enjoy being in the outdoors as well as the next guy.  These days it’s mostly deer hunting in the mountains of North Carolina. Also, as every deer hunter knows, much of the time in a blind is spent watching squirrels, birds and who knows what else while waiting for the deer.

While deer hunting one morning I was watching doves eating the corn I had put out for deer when I realized that some of those birds were not doves.  As I looked through the binoculars I was quite surprised to see four quail. I had never seen a quail here in the mountains as their habitat is normally open fields and thickets.  They returned all season and their number grew to seven.
As I watched them my mind wandered back to the 70s and 80s when Benny Phillips and I used to spend more time quail hunting than deer hunting.  Benny was sports editor for many years at the High Point Enterprise and also wrote many outdoor stories. Many times we worked together on these stories and one of them was on Ray Crouse. Ray ran a dairy farm in the Silver Valley area and was an avid quail hunter. After Ray’s death in the early 90s, his son Leslie did not continue the quail hunting.
I kept in touch with Leslie and visited his farm from time to time to talk about the dairy business for Enterprise articles.  I knew I had to try it again when he told me he was considering returning to the quail hunting business on his property. The desire to bird hunt remained so I called Leslie last fall and asked him when would be a good time to hunt.  He said it would have to be after all the farm crops were in, toward the end of the year. 
The hunt was great and just like old times.  There is something magical about watching a good bird dog work a field. It was the first time my wife, Suzanne, had been bird hunting.  She was fascinated by the dogs and enjoyed talking with Leslie about the birds, dogs and his reminiscing about the days when his dad ran the hunts. One of Leslie’s favorite stories was one his dad used to tell of a friend of his who was a judge and avid bird hunter.  Of course like some bird hunters if they saw a hawk he was history.  One day a wildlife officer brought in a farmer for killing a hawk.  The judge didn’t really want to prosecute the man since he’d had “dusted” hawks himself.  So he asked the man “Mr?  You didn’t really mean to kill that hawk, you were probably just trying to scare it off.  Is that correct?”  To which the man replied “Oh, no sir.  I meant to kill him, he was after my birds”. 
At the end of the hunt, Suzanne and I both agreed this was far more enjoyable than sitting in a deer blind.  Will we give up deer hunting?  Not likely, but we certainly will be returning to Silver Valley again.  The next time I want to try for pheasants and chuckers.  Always something new….
You may call Leslie Crouse to book your hunt at 336-250-4232.