As I pointed out in a 2012 Blog, tomorrow (10/25) marks the beginning of a new year for many upland bird hunters. And according to the 2014 Upland Game Outlook we can expect to do a bit better than last year, especially with quail. I hope this an upward trend that continues for some time – suitable habitat and weather being the limiting factors – and know I am not alone.
I am a bird hunter, with a slight bias towards the ring-necked pheasant (see 2013’s Sucker for Rings), and there are very few things that will keep me out of the field – it’s just not in my nature. I am closing in on 30 yrs in the uplands and the anticipation for the chance to don the orange and hit the grass is just as strong as ever – fueled by the opening weekends of years past (see 2011’s Traditions – Birds on the Brain).
With a warm weekend forecasted and plenty of standing corn in my hunting area I will be hitting my best places early and late to catch birds moving from or into roosting cover. Midday, if I have not found a comfortable spot to snooze with the spaniels, will be spent around cool, umbrella cover such as wild sunflowers, brushy patches and even clumps of cattails that are near water. Standing corn is good umbrella cover, too, but not easy to hunt and usually not popular with those trying to make a living on it.
As for access, be sure to secure permission for all private land – it’s required. In some cases, the NGPC has already done this for you and you can check these walk-on areas out online through the 2014 Public Access Atlas. I pick up a printed copy from the local permit vendor and then download updates from the online site. Here’s why – nearly 30,000 acres have been added since the print deadline was met back in early August. Don’t overlook the value of public lands either that are alos listed in the Atlas – especially for quail.
So here’s to tomorrow and the 98 days of bird season that follow it. The birds will be out there…will you?