Outdoor / Fishing

Thursday, Oct 18 2012 08:04 PM

Steve Merlo: Dry conditions will hinder quail hunting

By The Bakersfield Californian

My dog, Beau, knows something's in the air. Personally, I think his amazing poodle nose can differentiate between the smells of summer and the enriching harvest odors of fall.

In his case, the heady aroma of upland bird has to be wafting through the air, because how else would a dog know that it's time to get out and hunt? Tail wagging, eyes bright with excitement -- it's uncanny the way he acts now that the heat of summer has dissipated.

Following me everywhere, he knows it's time for something other than his daily training or generally boring walk; it's time to get serious and start using the desires and senses God bestowed upon Man's Best Friend to chase down some upland birds.

A dog's nose remains an incredible thing, especially when it comes to pinpointing the exact location of a game bird camouflaged in deep cover or even hiding almost in plain sight. His nose sees what we as humans cannot see with our own eyes, and his eagerness to please his human companion shows whenever he runs in the field. To tell the truth, Beau's nose for hunting makes all those sacks of expensive dog food bought during the year a real bargain and along with his hunting prowess, his undying friendship has long ago sealed the deal for a permanent spot in our family.

Saturday will mark the opening day of the California general quail and chukar seasons. There are plenty of birds, but the profound lack of moisture and water in our area will be a hindrance to both hunters and dogs like Beau, who will find the heat almost oppressive and possibly dangerous.

Hunters are cautioned to take plenty of water and ice with them, not only to drink, but to drench ones' animals in the cooling fluid should a dog become overheated. The high desert does have a few chukars around, but the rocky terrain can make for severe hunting trials for man and dog alike, so plan accordingly. Even locally, the conditions will not be too favorable for man or dog, so hunt early and late when cooler temperatures prevail.

The daily limit on quail remains at 10, with a 20-bird possession limit after the first day. The limit on chukars is six, with a double the daily bag possession limit.

Junior pheasant hunt

The Taft Sportsmen's Club will host the 18th annual JC Chitwood Memorial Junior Pheasant Hunt Nov. 17-18.

The popular sporting event is a free pheasant hunt for all hunters holding a current junior hunting license.

Sign-ups are underway and will continue until Nov. 14 or until the hunts are filled to capacity.

A family event, these special hunts permit young hunters to get acquainted with safe hunting practices, learn respect for the environment, work with hunting dogs and practice skills necessary to become safe and successful sportsmen.

The event is held in conjunction with the Taft Friends of the NRA and the California Department of Fish and Game's Game Bird Heritage Program.

For more information, to donate funds, or even exercise and hunt your well-trained hunting dog, contact Tom Brown by e-mail at tbrown16@bak.rr.com, by phone (661) 765-2704, by FAX at (661) 763-1936 or by mail to the Taft Sportsmen's Club, P.O. Box 1245, Taft, CA 93268-1245. You may also e-mail:pheasant@taftsc.com .

Duck season ends, goose hunting begins

The first half of duck season closed Oct. 14 but will reopen Oct. 27 and run until Jan. 27. Goose season will open Saturday and also end on Jan. 27. Not that there are many geese around, but the limit remains at eight per day again this year. Hunters can only take six dark geese per day in the aggregate, which include Canadians and specklebellies (white-fronts).

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