Quail Hunting In Nebraska
by Tim L. Tyrrell Sr.
Due to a severe weather-related decline in the wild bird population in Nebraska, I have been reluctant in the past year to invest in a four-legged hunting partner. Until I retired a year ago I did not have the time to dedicate to a top-quality dog. My occupation required that I travel exclusively, and having to constantly burden friends and family or board the dog at a kennel would not have been fair or proper.
In my search for what would be the right dog I met several really great dog trainers and breeders. Several of them not only have their own kennels, they also have hunting areas as well. For a modest sum they will provide some excellent Pheasant and Quail hunting over their own dogs.
This in itself created a quandary for me, as I had always been a critic of what I considered "canned hunts". But after having these people show me around and explain how things worked, I began to reconsider what I thought of as "canned", especially when it related to bird hunting. This type of hunting in Nebraska is typically referred to as controlled hunting.
I soon realized that is not called controlled hunting in the sense that it is a "canned hunt". In order to conduct these types of hunts, the Game and Parks Commission regulates the minimum number of acres that must be dedicated to hunting and how the land should be managed. Yes, birds are released prior to hunting, but there are wild birds in the fields as well. Since every previous hunt may not have been 100% successful, there may be some pretty experienced birds out there.
Still hesitant, I arranged a hunt with Joe Honvlez of Salt Valley Hunts & Kennels in Denton, Nebraska. It was to be a short hunt, a few hours in duration, and we would have the opportunity to harvest as many as ten quail. My hunting partner for the day would be my wife, Pam. In the twenty-five years that we have been married, she has handled and shot many firearms, but she has never hunted for real game.
When we arrived at Salt Valley Hunts & Kennels, Joe brought out the two dogs that we would be hunting over. One was a female English Pointer named Tattle Tale Pearl, and the other was one of her male offspring, Tattle Tale Jack. Pearl, a National Shoot to Retrieve Champion, was a pure joy to watch. Anybody that has not had the up-close-and-personal pleasure of seeing the beauty and grace of a great champion dog hunt is truly missing out.
For the next few hours Pam and I had a wonderful time. I finally had the chance to hunt with my wife and a genuine champion dog all on the same day. It was also the first opportunity to use two new shotguns in the field. Pam's is a Remington 870 20-gauge that had been fitted for her five-foot-one frame. I, however, used a recently acquired over/under 12-gauge imported under the Benelli name. Both guns had shot well on the range and we were impressed at how the lightweight pair performed in the field.
We came home with seven quail, two of which Pam singly brought to bag. The birds have long been eaten and all that remains are the pictures and memories of a really fine hunt that in reflection was no different than any other I had been on. Except the fact that we positively knew the fields had birds in them, it didn't seem even remotely canned or controlled. The dogs still had to find the quail, flushing the birds like any I have ever hunted, and once they are on the wing you still have to hit them.
To say I was uniquely impressed would be an understatement. I so enjoyed this experience and a subsequent pheasant hunt with our two sons at another location, that I have opened a service geared primarily for over-the-road truck drivers that have a few hours of precious free time in the Lincoln, Nebraska area.
If there is a shortage of upland game in your area, or you do not have the time or expense of owning a dog, give some thought to this type of hunting. You might be surprised at how inexpensive it is when compared to the cost of owning and training your own dog.
For more information about my services, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.