All you need to know about the Californian quail
Californian quail (Callipepla californica)
Location. During summer, quails live upland or in the forest; but when fall arrives, temperatures drop, and the first snows cover the place, they find locations with more pleasant weather.
Trees and weeds. They prefer small trees, leaving during the day to forage in grasslands or marshlands free of snow. These sites, with lots of weeds, branches and bushes that hinder movement and shooting, add some spice to the hunt, testing the aim of the hunter.
Boots. Typically, you will be quail hunting in muddy fields. Unless you wear boots that are tight enough, you will lose your boots on the way.
Noise. Quail are very sensitive to noise, so you have to walk the area carefully, not an easy task amid the grasses. If you move carelessly, the quail will sense the danger and the flock will take flight.
Bathing. They enjoy taking “dust baths” and leave circular prints on the place where they took a bath.
Socialites. Quails are sociable birds. They move in flocks (called “covey”).
Crest. The California quail has a tuft hunched forward that looks like a letter “q”. This crest consists of only six feathers. Plumage is colorful and, in the chest area, it resembles that of a pheasant, black from the neck to the head, though males have a white stripe like a collar.
More Hunting Tips
Shotgun in position. Quails are easily startled. Have your shotgun ready when the dogs spot the covey if you want to bag some birds.
Resistance. In addition to its speed when running and flying, the quail is a small bird, with a muscular body and feathers so thick that together they form a kind of vest capable of resisting impacts of small munitions and even more if shot from afar.
Fast shooter. When the covey takes flight, birds move in different directions. Do not hesitate; shoot on the fly in one direction and ignore the other birds. A shot on the fly, made quickly, is critical. Even a good shooter will average no less than two or three rounds per prey.
Gauge. A 20 gauge is the most common shotgun for quail hunting.
Recovery. If you do not recover a wounded quail immediately, the bird will find shelter under a thorny bush and die there. Quails wounded and not recovered end up as food for foxes. In these circumstances, you will realize the importance of having dogs to track and lift the prey as soon as possible.
A hunter’s best friend. If possible, use some pointer dogs, like the English Pointer or the English Setter.
Low shots. Never shoot low flying quails. You could harm the dogs.