The Wayment Clan: (right to left)Dylan, Josh, me, Jake, Dad, and Shawn. Oh, and I can’t forget the hero of the story, Farley.
That early morning in Farles’ third hunting season, we were heading towards southwestern Idaho to pursue valley quail in a place I have dubbed, “The Trail to Quail.” Along for the adventure were my dad, my brothers, Shawn and Jake, my nephews, Dylan and Josh, and Bishop Maxwell (our ecclesiatical leader), a rowdy bunch if ever there was one. The family had all heard of Farley’s exploits at this location the previous year and had seen the piles of quail (or pictures thereof) we harvested, and everyone wanted in on the action. Farles always had that effect on people.
On the last day of the season 2001, Farley, my brother Scott and our friend Troy, and I put the WWF Smackdown on some quail at “The Trail to Quail.”
As we drove, I experienced great excitement in anticipation for the day because we were heading towards the best quail hunting spot I have ever experienced. That morning, I had that unmistakable feeling you sometimes get that it is going to be a banner day.
Upon reaching our destination, we observed a covey of quail scamper across the road and into some thick brush. As we all grabbed our vests, shotguns and shells, we could hear the distinctive Chi-qui-ta, chi-qui-ta, chi-qui-ta (I always want to reply with “Banana”), throughout the hills. I let Farley out of his kennel in the back of the Excursion and without even as much as lifting a hind leg, he instantly caught wind of the abundant scent, went to work, and strode over to the edge of the road where the covey had passed only moments before. Apparently, the birds had not gone far and Farley froze into a stylish point with all of my family witnessing. A few of us eagerly honored the point, kicked around in the bushes, and the large covey flushed in all directions. On my first shot, I uncharacteristically knocked down a low flying bird quartering right to left and Farles was on it post haste.
We pursued the bulk of the covey up the draw along a small willow-lined creek bottom. Another quail got up in front of me and I again made a solid shot and the bird dropped into a willow where it hung in open view. “You’re shooting pretty good today,” Shawn praised as I bagged my second bird. “Thanks,” I humbly said, not wanting to jinx my good fortune.
Two shots, two quail. Not bad for a duffer.
My family and I all fanned out across the big draw and somehow Farley covered enough terrain for all of us. Not far up a sagebrush covered side-draw that slanted off to the right, Bishop and I happened to be near Farley when he slammed on point on a solitary sagebrush. With two birds already in the bag, I told Bishop to take this one and, upon the bird’s straight-a-way flush, Bishop dropped it with ease.
For obvious reasons, Bishop warmed up to Farley very quickly.
We continued working our way up the draw. I specifically recall my brother Jake and nephew Josh missing multiple birds. “Man, I can’t hit those little suckers,” lamented Jake. Feeling like an expert shotgunner, I explained: “You don’t aim a shotgun, you point it. Keep both eyes open, focus in on the bird, and point the gun at the bird. It’s all a function of hand eye coordination.” Pretty soon, with my advice and the help of Farles, Jake and Josh both dropped a few birds themselves.
By the time noon rolled around, we had multiple birds in the bag and we decided to go to lunch at the local Mexican restaurant. Can life get any better? I submit that it cannot (unless there was more hunting to be done with Farley).
If the morning hunt was good
, the afternoon hunt was epic
! We drove further up the draw than I had ever been prior to that time. At the top we witnessed an unequaled panorama of quail cover–a creek bottom with thick willows and side draws that shot off in every direction. And, as a testament, the birds were present in numbers you only dream about. In fact, as we pushed up the draw, we must have been pushing a chubby covey so big that it seemed there were birds in every willow clump. When I say this, I truly do not mean to exaggerate, Farles must have pointed over fifty times that day. All six of us (Dylan was too young to carry a gun) shot birds over Farles’ mesmerizing points. Jake and I kept shooting at the same birds, and I recall that he (who earlier could not hit a bird to save his life) claimed about three of the birds that I know fell from my shot. Oh well, there was plenty to go around that day.Dad and Bishop working their way up one of the finger draws in pursuit a quail
When we reached the top of the draw and the willows thinned out, Farley began to point birds where there was no cover, only a few rocks in dusty ground-places where birds aren’t supposed to be. My family and I were elated by the number of birds and a dog who was bound and determined to find and point every last one of them for the gun. In my mind, this day has no equal for bird hunting-not even a close second.
As we drove home that night, I simply smiled as all of those in the Excursion sang praises to Farley and his stellar performance, a sort of symbolic butt kissing if you will. When I think of that stinky dog, I can’t help but think this was the smell of success.