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2016 Missouri Quail Quest

North Missouri MRAP Hunt

We prepared to step into the field from our parked truck, shotgun in hand. My birddog Trapper was racing around the truck, ready for the hunt to begin. My hunting partner Chris shut the truck door and 10 yards from the truck a covey exploded to flight from under a small cedar tree. They settled in about 30 yards down the fenceline under another cedar. We knew at that moment it could be a good morning in the field. Chris had not hunted quail for many years and was about to have the time of his life. We were hunting private land that had been enrolled into the Department’s new Missouri Outdoor Recreational Access Program (MRAP) that reimburses landowners to provide public walk-in hunting and fishing access opportunities on their property. More information can be found about MRAP on the Department’s website. This particular tract was primarily a weedy mess of newly planted grasses and wildflowers and a lot of edgefeathering – the perfect combination for quail. The quail must have read the same books a habitat manager does, because they were there. With a light drizzle falling, we moved along the fencerow toward the cedar tree covey, but they flushed wild and headed for the East fenceline. Once we caught up to them we got into the singles which held pretty well for the dog and the shooting was good. Well, the opportunities FOR shooting were good, can’t really say the shooting was good. We downed a few birds over solid points and the dog did the heavy work of retrieving in some pretty thick cover. Another full covey of birds flushed while we were still finding singles, so we ended up being in singles for a good hour. We found another small covey 30 minutes later and within sight of the truck we found the last covey of the morning. The finishing touch was Trapper pointing and retrieving the last single of the morning before we headed back home. 4 coveys in two and a half hours with one dog is a pretty darn good Missouri hunt. Good dog work resulted in some quail breast for the skillet. Not too many hunts do we get into a covey of birds before we even load our guns! Trapper slept all the way home, while Chris and I made plans for another hunt. I could have used a nap, too. If you are looking for a good place to hunt quail contact staff in our local offices for advice on where to go on public lands or check out the MRAP link above. Stay tuned next week for a  journal entry on a father-son quail hunt during the firearms deer season.

Bill White

Private Lands Services Division Chief

Missouri Department of Conservation