Written by David Stewart, CEO of ShotKam
Quail hunting, a timeless outdoor pursuit, offers more than just the thrill of the chase. It provides an opportunity for camaraderie, bonding with your faithful hunting companions, and embracing the calm beauty of nature. In this blog, seasoned quail hunter David Stewart will explore the essential building blocks for an exceptional hunt learned over his two-decade-long journey into the world of quail hunting.
Discovering the Joy of Quail Hunting
I still remember my first quail hunt here in Florida, which was about 20 years ago, and utterly falling in love with the pastime. Since then, it's become more than just a hobby for me; it’s become a weekly ritual that I look forward to in the lush hunting grounds of Florida’s Treasure Coast. Each outing is not just about the hunt; it's about connecting with nature, bonding with my dog, and embracing the thrill of the sport. Watch the YouTube video from my most recent hunting adventure above, filmed with the ShotKam.
A Hunter's Best Friend: My Italian Spinone, Florence
My companion on these hunts is Florence, my three-year-old Italian Spinone. This 80-pound gentle giant is an essential part of my quail hunting experience. The Spinone is a breed you might not see every day at the dog park, but their characteristics make them an ideal hunting companion; they’re friendly, calm, and submissive, but they have a great nose and are highly trainable. Florence is the perfect example of the Spinone personality. Unlike some more excitable breeds, Florence greets me after a long day at work with calmness and a laid-back attitude (I might get a few tail wags as a welcome).
However, it’s a totally different story when we go out hunting. When she’s out quail hunting with me, her little tail is wagging as fast as it possibly can. She is in her element, and her sweet, laidback nature turns her into a deliberate, methodical hunting partner. Her gentle nature extends beyond her interactions with other animals; she's equally gentle with the game, ensuring no harm comes to them even when retrieving.
Every good hunter knows how special it is to be in the field with their dog. Florence makes the whole experience that much more enjoyable for me, and we get to spend valuable time together in nature.
The Significance of Choosing the Right Dog
When it comes to choosing a bird dog, it’s worth it to consider a hunting pedigree over appearance. I did extensive research on the Spinone breed and discovered that their proficiency as an all-around bird dog, adept in both pointing and retrieving, perfectly aligned with my needs. It also helps to consider what kind of hunting you’ll be doing, where, and how often, so you can find a breed that fits best with your own personality as a hunter.
We’re lucky to have year-round sunny weather in Florida, and Florence’s calm personality also prevents her from overdoing it. She’s keenly aware of herself and knows when to slow down before overheating, which is a very common threat in the Florida sun. Eliminating that worry allows me to focus more on the hunt itself. Every detail is important so that you both have a safe, fun, and effective hunt while your dog is in the field with you.
The Choice of Weapon: A Personal Preference
In the world of quail hunting, there's a frequent debate about the best gauge for a shotgun. While some hunters are particular about using small gauge shotguns, I find comfort in flexibility. Whether it's a 12, 20, or 28 gauge, the focus for me is less about the tool and more about the experience. Lately, I've taken a liking to a 28 gauge Perazzi, perfect for hunting dove, snipe, and quail. For ammo, I stick to ¾ ounce, #7.5 or #8 shots. It's not about the power but the precision and the joy it brings to the hunt.
Safety and Skill: The Pillars of Quail Hunting
For those new to the hunting world, prioritizing safety in quail hunting is essential, particularly for beginners. I suggest that novice hunters start by practicing skeet shooting to gain confidence and grasp the importance of safe, responsible firearm handling.
Remember to be aware of other hunters around you, and of dogs on the ground, while you’re in the field. The best advice I can offer is this: No one cares if you miss. What they care about is if you took a safe shot. Everyone also respects someone who doesn’t take a shot if they aren’t confident. This level of self-awareness is key. There is no obligation or pressure to shoot, so focus on enjoying the experience without any nervousness.
Quail hunting tends to be more predictable and manageable than other types of bird hunting, making it a great introduction for newcomers to the sport. While it's not mandatory to have a guide for your first hunt, I recommend going with someone who is experienced in quail hunting so you (and your bird-dog) are perfectly safe.
The Social Aspect: Building Bonds Through Hunting
One of the most appealing aspects of quail hunting, to me, is its social nature. It's not just about the hunt; it's about the camaraderie, the shared breakfasts or lunches, and the stories exchanged between friends and family. For me, quail hunting has always been a way to connect with my closest friends and family, creating memories that extend far beyond the field.
Quail Hunting: A Tradition to Preserve
Quail hunting is more than a sport; it's a tradition that fosters a deep appreciation for nature, wildlife, and responsible hunting practices. It offers a perfect blend of skill, safety, and social interaction, making it a valuable pastime I want to help preserve for future generations.
In conclusion, quail hunting is a multifaceted experience, combining skill, companionship, and a deep respect for nature. Whether it's the choice of weapon, the bond with a faithful dog, or capturing important moments in the field with the ShotKam, each element plays a vital role in making each hunt a memorable adventure.