Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Quail Hunter - An Endangered Species

Well here it is. Finally, the article that will make the earth move and the mountains shutter. A tradition that has remained at the center of the Holt House universe for over a hundred years and counting is now the topic of my article. And the issue? It may soon vanish with my father’s generation.

For as long as I can remember, I have gone quail hunting. And for as long as my high-school years would carry chores, I was the caretaker for over 6 hunting dogs at any given time. I took care of them, I fed them and I cleaned their pens every Saturday. And for reasons such as these, it will be the end of quail hunting with my generation.

You are speculating that my challenges on continuing this tradition are because of the amount of work that a bird dog entails. Kind of. But it’s not exactly where you need to be after an accurate assessment.

It is important to understand two things when reaching a conclusion on this issue. The first is the condition of my current generation. The second is the amount of time quail hunting consumes. And I’m not talking about pen-raised hunts. I’m talking about finding a lease, inspecting the lease, negotiating the lease, paying for the lease, setting up feeders, training your dogs or sending them to the trainer, working with your dogs, taking care of your dogs, booting your dogs, dog trailers, dog collars, shock collars, snake boots, shot guns and shells, snake venom kits, skunk spray, porcupine quills and wild hog attacks. And that's just for starters.

However, let us examine what has happened to our current generation as it compares to my father’s generation. A generation that hunted almost every weekend of my youth. And that’s not an exaggeration as now that he’s retired, he will hunt over 100 days this year.

A while back in doing some marketing research on my generation and attempting to understand our purchasing habits, I became acquainted with a sociology professor at Southern Methodist University. After much discussion, the reality of who and why I am was quite sobering.

After the great depression, there was a big push with America to never go back to that kind of life. A lot of women were daughters of mothers who had nothing and lived under some pretty difficult conditions. This would lead to a woman who strived for perfection in her household and the want for her children to have everything they needed. These would be the “June Cleaver” years where women dressed up everyday and dad would come home after a tough day at the office and prop his feet up.

When the sixties rolled around, a great number of women became restless with the 50s way of life. Resentment would begin to fester in women as men would generally come home and end their day the moment they hit the door while women continued their work throughout the remaining evening. This would be the years of “mother’s little helpers” and martini lunches. Being married and raising a family became a burden to a lot of women as men were not real involved. Historically, men were never involved. They were hunters then farmers and both of these jobs required long hours. A farmer, like my grandfather, would work from sun up to sun down. He plowed fields with a mule so it wasn’t expected of him to become real involved with raising the children. That was the woman’s job. Fast forward to the 50s and men suddenly had office jobs that would bring them home by five. The idea of the woman raising the children was left over from years past so you begin to see where the winds would begin to change.

During the sixties, women’s lib would evolve and they would become more active in the job force. Suddenly they could work and earn their own money. Given this new independence and the seeds of resentment beginning to sprout and blossom, the divorce rate would begin to rise.

Divorce statistics would continue to escalate on into the 70s and 80s not slowing down until the 90s tearing families apart and leaving a lot of children my age lacking confidence with the whole concept of marriage. This would lead my generation to not only marry later in life but something else. Fathers would now be involved with raising children and in a big way. The efforts now made within the family by the husband are tenfold compared to past generations. And this, good towns folk, will be the contributing factor that will diminish the sacred word known as “time”.

Combine the lack of time along with the enormous responsibility that is required for real quail hunting, the sport is beginning to vanish leaving guys my dad’s age wondering what will happen to something they love so dear. Aside from all the work that goes into quail hunting, it is a beautiful sport. To see a great pointer at work is true excellence. It’s really like nothing you’ve ever seen before as they run and cross the fields smelling for a covey of quail or honoring another point from 50 yards out.

I don’t know what will become of quail hunting. But I hope that the generations that follow will pick up the torch that shines on one of the last great sports.

May a man and his dog always represent something pure and genuine. 



  1. We had the six dogs as well. The Brits and the pointers. To watch them work is truly beautiful. I'll never forget when a mom and daughter team first working together. The mom went on point the daughter came up and spooked the covey and the fight was on. The pup never broke mom point again.Lack of quail is one thing. Mine was taking care of the dogs,didn't care for dogs much as an adult. We did have a poodle that when my dad was training would have been a great bird dog.
    Michael Brinlee

  2. Great story Ed. I remember being in Middle school and going to your house one weekend. We had to clean out the "bird hunting van". Aside from 10,000 shells in the floor, I was amazed to find feathers every where. To your knowledge, did Rene ever clean his birds inside the van? You know, maybe the it got real cold with the wind blowing or something, and they decided to clean them inside.