Phil Neal and Bill Bryson have found how to get a good quail hunt in spite of the diminished number of birds in Wilson County and, actually, all over the state. Phil and Bill invited me and my family to chase the elusive birds and very confidently informed me that I should bring plenty of ammunition.
We went to a field in the Tuckers Crossroads community especially designed for hunters. The 40-acre patch, planted with ideal cover crops to feed the birds, was surrounded by a ground predator-proof fence. In addition to some wild coveys, Phil put out several pen-raised birds for us to chase. He proudly unloaded his and Bill's three English Pointer dogs named Rex, Bo and Abe and a Brittany named Harlan, all anxious to find the game.
Before we could get our guns loaded, we had a point and three other backing dogs paralyzed in anticipation of the bird rise. Even at 35 degrees, we didn't have time to notice the cold as we made a swift trek to the fencerow for a covey flush. We managed to get only one bird on the ground even with four people shooting. The dogs efficiently found and retrieved it for us. Just 30 yards away was another dog on point, this time leading to a couple of kills.
The sun began to peek out between broken clouds, helping to highlight the white pointers crashing through the brown sagebrush. When we lost sight of the dogs, Bill had a localizing device which would tell him where the dogs were and if they were moving. With the monitor, he told us that Tex was pointing in the edge of the cornfield only 50 yards away. Using his high-tech directions, we were able to get another quail on the ground.
Phil said he had sent out 35 birds from the fly pen of 700, which he had been feeding and exercising. He put the quarry out the day before the hunt with most of them staying close to the release point, making it easy for the well-trained pointers to find again.
By the end of the day we had managed to kill 20 of them. With better shooting we could have easily killed another dozen. In our outing, the dog-tracking device calculated the distance the dogs had run to be 14 miles, which probably explained why they were ready to get in the dog box when we got back to the truck. I didn't want to admit it, but even with the enjoyment of the shooting my legs too were feeling the fatigue.
My family and I want to thank Phil and Bill for a fun-filled day expertly planned and executed by a pair of professional hunters and their exceptional dogs.