Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Spud Factor of Quail Hunting Analogs

John target practicing with a .22 long rifle.
In quail hunting, as in all things, practice and planning are essential for success. Most people go to their local skeet shooting range in order to practice shooting their shotguns at moving targets. That is a great method for improving your overall aim and increasing your hit ratio. I would not recommend leaving that practice out, however it does not totally cover what is needed to effectively shoot a flushing quail, especially when hunting without the benefit of a dog. Even on the best of hunts when you are doing everything correctly the quail will flush with surprising speed and in unexpected directions. When they do flush they tend to take off low and head for the nearest cover. In most cases there is less than three heart beats to mount, aim, and fire before the quail are behind a piece of structure and gone. Even the best sporting clay fields do not give you a good representation of what this is like as you are perpetually at the ready and know when the clay will fly, where it will fly from, and and in which general direction it will go. Even hunters that use dogs to flush out quail have some advanced warning as to when a quail will flush so they can be at the ready when it does happen. Without a dog the flush will come almost unexpectedly and in an unexpected direction. This type of hunting relies on quick reflexes and perfect form more than aim to be able to consistently hit a target. How do you practice this? With potatoes!

Why potatoes? You might ask?
Shot from the side with a .22 rifle. 

Reason # 1: Mashed Potatoes Are Yummy and there is no more fun a way to make mashed potatoes! Assuming you can find any of the pieces after you shoot it. Potatoes tend to explode quite spectacularly when hit with a 12 gauge shot gun. Exploding spuds also supply an unrivaled giggle factor.

Reason # 2 Potatoes are biodegradable so you don't have to run around gathering up the pieces when you are done. Potatoes will rot away in just a couple of days leaving the area clean and just a little more fertile than it was before you were there.

Reason # 3: Potatoes are a renewable rescource. Under the right conditions potatoes will grow into new plants, resulting in more potatoes. They could potentially be a never ending supply of these little brown quail lookalikes!

Shot from the end with a .22 this one split rather evenly
Reason # 4: Potatoes are fairly cheap as compared to other types of shotgun practice materials such as clay pigeons, and they are reusable if you miss. When bought in the 10 lb sack at your local grocery store you will get somewhere around 25-30 potatoes  for around $5.00. That is a whole lot of practice for the money.

Reason # 5: Most importantly, they look like quail. The coloration and size of Idaho potatoes is very similar to the size and shape and coloring  of the Gambol's quail that are so prevalent here in Southern Arizona. This means that when a buddy randomly throws a potato baseball style toward any of the dozen or so nearby bushes, and you squint real hard while standing on one foot and listening to psychedelic punk rock, it looks just like a flushing quail. Potatoes also blend into the surrounding desert, have a similar speed, and stay in the air a similar amount of time. When the shot is taken starting with your shotgun in the resting position down by your hips You get a really accurate representation of the same reaction shooting needed to consistently hit the quail in a real hunting situation.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ricks Review: Native Water Craft Manta Ray 11 Kayak

Patagonia Lake, Arizona at sun set.
Fishing in the deserts of Southern Arizona is extremely limited. There just aren't that many lakes or rivers large enough to hold fish. Within a two hour drive there is one small river that is mostly surrounded by private land and Indian reservations, and the few lakes we have are smaller canyon reservoirs. This means they are narrow, long, deep, and surrounded by cliffs. Anywhere there is relatively flat space the vegetation is so thick that shore fishing becomes nearly impossible. These issues make a boat of some kind almost a necessity for fishing. There are five such lakes within 100 miles (close enough for a day trip) of my house. One is a tiny over-fished trout lake up in the Catalina mountains that doesn't allow boats at all, three have a 5 mph no wake speed limit or are limited to trolling motors, and one is large enough for a large boat to make about a 1/4 mile circle on one end for water skiing. This is bad for a fisherman stuck on the shore, but the limited number of people with smaller boats means this is great for fish populations in all of these lakes. and for the few fishermen who have a boat small enough to get to them. I want in on this action, so I need a small boat.