Quail Hunting Tradition

My three pointers, Scout, Sal and Schug, were locked on quail. The moment before hunters press the birds to flush is magical. To me, there’s nothing like the explosive escape of bobwhites. I hoped my sons-in-law, Shane and Jeremy, would feel the same.

“Shane, get ready,” I whispered. “The birds could explode into the air any moment. Keep the safety on until you’re ready to shoot at a bird.”

Although my dogs didn’t know it, their performance this day was helping to pave the way for another generation of hunting.

A decade earlier a previous generation of hunting dogs had led my daughters, Camela and Susanna, on their first hunting trip. Sandy, my wife, was pleased because it freed her from having to go on such adventures anymore.

Of the three women in my life, Camela liked hunting most. She hunted with me for bobwhites, pheasants and prairie chickens. She even developed notoriety as a hunter, appearing on television and in print. As a dad and a hunter, I was pleased that she was carrying on our hunting tradition.

Somewhere among her experiences, college, living in Chicago skyscrapers and moving among several states, however, she gave up hunting. I was disappointed. There’s nothing worse than losing a hunting buddy, especially one who represents the future.

I did convince her to hunt one more time in 2001. That was when her picture was on the cover of the 2001 Missouri Hunting & Trapping Regulations booklet. Given that unusual circumstance, she agreed to hunt one more time. Her sister also decided to go, and we all headed to a shooting preserve.

Susanna carried her gun, but she never loaded it. Camela killed a pheasant and practically cried at the sight of seeing it dead. I figured it was time for stubborn old dad to close the chapter in the book, Passing on a Family Quail Hunting Tradition.

My hopes revived as our family grew. Susanna married Jeremy, Camela married Shane, and children—Austin, Makenna and Zealand—followed. I was hopeful I could rekindle the hunting tradition passed on to me by my dad.

Quail hunting, however, is not an easy sport for beginners. It is best practiced with trained dogs, and shooting quail takes skill. Shane needed more training because he’d never fired a shotgun. After a couple of hours at the shooting range, he was repeatedly powdering the clay pigeons. Jeremy had recently bought his own shotgun and had a fair amount of