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.


  1. For those who hunt near waterfowl production areas and "practice" at a gun club; imagine the surprise when these hunters first pull the trigger on opening day, when there is a 70% increase or change in velocity, recoil acceleration and aiming advance over practice ammunition?

    Anyway, those potatoes had devastating wound channels.

    1. Reverend, come on down to Arizona this fall and we will figure out the giggle factor of shooting cantaloupe with a duck load! Hahaha! I bet those make a great duck analog, we just need to figure out a good launcher....I wonder how hard it will be to modify my pigeon thrower to pitch cantaloupe.

      I was really surprised at what the .22 did to the potatoes. I would have included a picture of one that was hit with a shotgun, but there wasn't anything left.

  2. -If I could shoot any foodstuffs I wanted, I would choose prune juice, soup, saltine crackers, ranch dressing, contract and house wines (especially Olive Garden's) ...