Hunting over dogs hasn’t been a luxury I’ve ever had the opportunity to do. Sure, I think about it, but I already have a dog and she’s not fond of loud noises. I imagine she would have been great in a younger year, before her knees went bad. For me, quail hunting in California without a dog is simply my situation. I’ve learned to adapt and hunt without a dog using other tactics. Previously, I’ve covered hunting mountain quail in California. In this episode, I hunt California Valley quail.
In the full video below, I show how easily one can solo bird hunt for upland game. This is pressured public land quail hunting in California. No dog, no problem.
Hunting Without a Dog
While I’ve never hunted with dogs, I imagine it makes a day of flushing birds easier. I imagine it provides more shooting opportunities. Those things sound great, but there’s also a ton of work you need to do with your dog in the off-season. You can pay for the training, but that ain’t cheap either.
For my cheap ass, I’m hunting by boot leather. In order to do so, there are tactics I use that help set me up on birds.
Bust Them Up
This seems obvious, but without a dog, there are only a few ways to bust up quail. When you spot a covey, start running. The goal here is for you to separate the covey of quail from one another and get them hiding in bushes. There are some less tactful tactics that can be employed, like shooting at the ground below the quail to spook them.
Use a Quail Call
Having recently made one, I use a quail call to call in California Quail. It would work for Gambel’s quail as well, but those aren’t my local birds. I blow a few puffs through my quail call to mimic the call of a valley quail and wait. What I’m listening for is a response and noting where the response is coming from. I’ll walk in that direction hoping that there are some busted up birds sitting in bushes for me to flush.
Stand by Bushes
Quail are nervous creatures and like other upland game, will lose in a game of chicken. What’s interesting in my experience, is that you pretty much have to be standing on top of one for it to flush. You’ll never know its at your feet until it takes to the air. Make sure to walk and stop, wait a few seconds, and see if a bird loses its nerves and flushes by you.
No Dog, No Problem
All that said, I love hunting and I love dogs. I may need to see what owning a bird dog is all about at some point – pun intended.
Quail Hunting in California
We have three species of quail in California: the California Valley quail, the Mountain quail, and the Gambel’s quail. Quail hunting in California affords opportunities on all of these birds if you know where to look.
On public land, look for areas with natural sources of year-round water. The desert regions of California will hold both California quail and Gambel’s quail, while mountain quail love some elevation. I’ve run into both California quail and mountain quail in Los Padres National Forest. I’ve run into California quail in Angeles National Forest and Cleveland National Forest. As someone who lives and enjoys hunting quail in Southern California, I know that every National Forest here holds quail. Look for the qualities and habitat that hold quail and you’ll surely run into these birds that sound like helicopters.