Wild Quail vs. Pen Raised Quail
Sometimes you may find that pen raised quail is your only option. There aren’t very many wild quail in Central Texas. Modern farming methods of fence to fence cultivation have all but eliminated the brushy, weedy fence rows that wild quail need. Additionally, most pastures have been planted with grass and the native grasses and forbs that wild quail depend on for seeds have also disappeared.
The only real option appeared to be pen raised quail.
Quality of wild vs. pen raised quail
The quality of pen raised quail varies greatly depending on how they are raised and how they are offered for hunting.
Hunting preserves typically have larger birds that are slow to fly. Some smaller operators either incubate their own or raise them in flight pens so that they fly well.
At any rate, you can almost always have a good time and, if you’re diligent, get almost all of the birds you pay for.
It’s a very satisfying experience to train your dog on some pen raised quail; often, just as satisfying as training them using wild quail. Especially when it’s a job well done.
Even the anticipation of hunting quail can be exciting. Especially when you get a good long look at the quarry!
Limits of Hunting Pen Raised Quail
But, a problem can occur when pen raised quail are all you have available to hunt. Your dog can start to develop bad habits.
The bad habits don’t usually show up until you do hunt wild quail and your dog only has experience on pen raised quail.
So, what are you going to do?
In the Summer of 2009, I was referred to Harlen Winters to get Jill trained to hunt wild quail. I was surprised to hear that he thought he could not only get her steady to wing and shot but also teach her to retrieve. It’s very important to me to have a well behaved and high performing dog when hunting wild quail. Harlen is a master at training dogs to hunt quail in a well behaved and high performing manner. He’s even better training dog owners!
He got her steady to wing and shot…
And then taught her to fetch. She was more than a little hard headed but learned eventually.
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What To Do Before You Hunt Wild Quail
There’s quite a bit of time between the end of Summer Training and the start of Wild Quail hunting season and the dog needed to continue her training. She retrieves somewhat grudgingly if you reward her faithfully. She makes a great dove retriever.
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Like any Brittany, she most especially like quail. Unfortunately, mostly what is available in Central Texas are pen raised quail rather than wild quail.
Interestingly enough, she’ll also retrieve geese!
And ducks if she has one of those floaty vests. But again, she’s really bred to hunt wild quail.
Summary of Dog Training and Wild Quail Hunting
Unfortunately, there just are many wild quail in Central Texas. So, I’m going to need to find a way to supplement the few that we do have. There is a lot of traffic and opinions on the pros and cons of using a surrogator to raise bobwhite quail. Next time, I’ll start talking more about what I found to get us some wild quail to hunt.
I enjoy hunting quail and a dog is absolutely required to do that – you’re just not going to find many birds without the help of a nose that is designed to find them. The Bobwhite Quail Decline is making finding and hunting bobwhite quail that much more challenging every year. All great quail hunting dogs combine two factors – good genetics and great training.
In the Spring right after I got her, I took her on a few hunts to see if she had a nose and interest in birds. I was very pleasantly surprised. She had both!
She also had the “freeze” that great pointers need.
She had the ability to find quail, point them and track them. I also got lucky as I found out later. While I didn’t take out on the hunts, I did bring back some birds for her to play with. Here’s where I got lucky. While I was playing with the birds and the dog, there was shooting going on in the background so she very quickly got used to hearing gunfire. It wasn’t intentional.
Training a dog who has a natural hunting nose and technique is obviously significantly easier than working with a dog without the hunting instinct or without a gifted nose. Using dogs is certainly preferable, but it’s not essential to have a dog to raise wild quail or to hunt them.
To read the next steps in training a dog to hunt wild quail, read the follow-up post.