Wisdom from the WOODS - Quail Hunting

Jan 27, 2015

Now that the quail season has come to an end in Missouri, one of the former most-popular sports has been put to bed for 10 months.

Charlie Woods (at right) and Levi McCoy with bird dogs ready to hunt.

Charlie Woods (at right) and Levi McCoy with bird dogs ready to hunt.

Quail hunting was really a popular activity for quite a while when I was growing up.  I killed most of my quail while rabbit hunting.  Dad had quit keeping a bird dog by the time I was born and the only time I hunted behind a dog for more than one trip was with my bowling partner “Jake” Jacobs.  Jake was the advertising manager at the DAR and had a pointer named Pud.  With my hunting activities we knew where to find a few coveys of quail, but we had very little success.

My dad was quite a shot and bagged a lot of birds.  One story he told me about his ability following bird dogs was a hunt he and Levi McCoy took that was really successful for both of them.  Quail were plentiful as there was a lot of good cover and lots of feed.

Today’s quail population is probably at an all-time low and one of the causes is lack of cover.  Most of the fence rows have been cleared so a few more rows of crop can be planted.  No one blames the farmers as they have to make a living and planting the former fence rows and thickets which were heavens for quail, are now a necessity for the farmers.

Back to Dad and Levi McCoy’s hunt; Dad said they went in the afternoon, after lunch-time at the Arcade Pool Hall.  It was south of the present courthouse and is now a parking lot.  He was the manager or owner of the lunch counter and could come and go just about as he pleased.

They went somewhere east of Poplar Bluff.  He didn’t say how he got there but they ran into quite a few coveys of birds and after a lot of shooting, hunting coats were full of birds.

Levi asked Dad how many he had and Dad pumped his shotgun and it had one shell.  Dad said” I’ve got 25.”  Levi couldn’t believe him and asked for an explanation, as he knew Dad had taken only one full box of 25 shells.  Dad’s reply after dumping his coat and counting his birds was that he had taken only one full box of shell and didn’t miss a bird. He said that “You didn’t see it but I killed two with one shot.”

Those were the good old days when there were lots of game and a lot of places to hunt.

In the January issue of the Missouri Conservation Commission’s magazine there is an outstanding article about trapping in Missouri.  I don’t have any pictures of my trapping days but I will cover that era in my next article.

Coon hunting is picking up with a few more hunts in Arkansas and Missouri during February. Stay tuned.