This is my favorite weekend in Southern California: dove reopens, pheasant opens, quail and waterfowl are already open. I spent three days in the local mountains and the Imperial Valley hunting most of those species, though I skipped the ducks this year.
Pretty decent bird numbers. Tons of dove (mourning & collared), lots of pigeons, decent numbers of both gambels and valley quail, leading to the picture below. No pheasant this year, though in most past years I've picked up one or two.
Both the Gambels and the Valley quail are lovely birds. The Valley birds are more gaudy, but the cream and black on the Gambels, with the cinnamon on their sides, seems more elegant.
The dove yesterday afternoon were quite a challenge. I was sitting under a tree and the birds were coming over me, up high, riding a 20mph+ wind as they moved from feed towards an urban area. Very tough shooting, but I dumped enough to avoid total depression. A few birds came into my tree from the other direction and seemed to hang in mid-air as they struggled towards the branches. Of course I missed several of those easy shots, no doubt stopping my swing entirely on the "motionless" birds.
I spent this morning working a few spots in the Lagunas, trying to bag a Mountain quail to complete the trifecta. As in past years, no luck. Locally, the best hunting for Mountain quail is generally a couple years after a burn; the birds move into the new feed but feel protected since the burned branches provide overhead cover. Last great year for Mountain quail was 2005-2006, have not had a good burn on national forest since then. Patience.
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