Book: Hunting Gambel’s Quail

January 4, 2012 | By | Reply More

(Ben Smith photo)

We want to hunt Gambel’s quail. You know, those quail with the topknot that run around the desert and hop on cacti.

Jay in particular wants to do it because he still carries images of his head of when he was out in the country around Phoenix one time, and saw “hundreds” of quail running around. (He didn’t have a gun, which was good because that he says that Cave Creek Beer – when it was still made in Cave Creek, AZ – was going down pretty smooth in that heat.)

So when we heard about Ben Smith’s brief e-book “Hunting Gambel’s Quail, A Beginner’s Guide to Hunting Southwestern Birds,” we absolutely wanted to check it out. Ben writes the Arizona Wanderings hunting/fishing blog and does a good job with it, which is how we stumbled across his e-book.

Note two things. First, it’s an e-book, which means it’s published in pdf form only, no hard copy. Second, it’s only 29 pages, which is a decent size for those who just want a quick intro to a tough bird to hunt.

Re: why he wrote the book, he says, “I’m a pretty regular guy who teaches junior high social studies and science during the week and spends his weekends hunting, fishing and wandering around the hillsides of Arizona.

“When I first started my blog at Arizona Wanderings, it was a simple communication tool with family. Ultimately it spiraled into something much more. Over time, more and more questions came in asking when, where, and how to chase after these southwestern birds.”

Hence the e-book. Some miscellaneous impressions:

1. It’s work!

Holding the warm, soft, feathered body and admiring the beauty of God’s creation is known only to those who put in the time and miles to chase these elusive birds through some of the most rugged and beautiful country in America.

“Put in the time and miles….” This makes us want to go even more! Gotta love birds….

2. Practical advice

He has the bases covered, like polarized sunglasses – “to combat that southwestern sun” – sunscreen and rattlesnake warnings. Not your typical upland experience.

We loved this quote too: “The day you think you will only need a half box of shells is the day you will need a whole box.”

A whole box! Where do we sign up?!

Re: shotguns: “If you know that you are going to be hunting quail the rest of your life, you may want to buy the nice one now and get years of positive experience with it. If you are unsure of your future endeavors, I would recommend not breaking the bank and investing in a pump shotgun.”

If you have trouble judging distances, a good exercise is to take soda cans (roughly the size of a quail) and placing it at 10, 20, 30, 40 yards. Studying these different distances will help train the hunter’s to quickly evaluate the yardage of a bird.

3. Tips

A few:

The best times to hunt are right after sunrise and right before sunset. There are large tracts of public land that are easily….

Sadly most hunters never stray more than a couple hundred yards from their vehicle, so if you can travel that extra distance, you will find yourself more or less alone and in great quail country.

Hunting with dogs in the desert can be rough. Javelina [pig-like animals], rattlesnakes, and cactus can take a toll on your pups. Use extreme caution when hunting with dogs.

4. That’s birding….

If I can connect on one or two birds, I am having a good day.

Most days, I enjoy working up a sweat and getting a great view at the top of a ridgeline.

Gotta love it….

Bottom Line

Here's a shot of Ben (Ben Smith photo).

As with all books, you may not agree with all of it – like Ben recommending limited use of Cyl chokes. But that’s small potatoes. The bottom line is it’s fun to read about bird hunting, and it’s real fun to read about a new type of bird hunting that makes you want to go do it…right now!

Good job, Ben. Thanks from a couple knucklehead birders for contributing to the bird-hunting info trail. We want more. Maybe we can talk Ben into writing a Serious Bird Hunting book….


> Ben hunts without a dog, and only shoots birds on the wing. But he says some dogless hunters “find it perfectly acceptable to shoot Gambel’s on the ground due to the fact that these birds will run miles without ever flushing. I’m not one to pass judgement and felt that in explaining the fair chase argument in my short book, I allow a beginning hunter to explore the argument for themselves.”

> Order the e-book here. Right now it’s $5.99, which if our math is right works out to a little over 20 cents a page.


Category: AZ, Books/DVDs, Gambel's quail, Quail, Reviews

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