NEBRASKAland Magazine is dedicated to outstanding photography and informative writing with an engaging mix of articles and photos highlighting Nebraska’s outdoor activities, parklands, wildlife, history and people.

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70 NEBRASKAland • JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2017 A s winter nights get colder, bobwhite quail coveys offer the protection these birds need to survive. Coveys will average 14 birds in the late fall and early winter, and their numbers begin to decrease afterward to about 10 birds by February. The birds will congregate, tails in and beaks out, so they can see ground predators approaching from all directions. This system also allows equal thermal protection for each bird. But what does this mean for hunters? The birds may stay in these tight formations until well after daylight. When they do eventually move, it will be to feed in nearby fields, their movements spreading their scent across the snow, ice and grass. It is only once these birds begin to move that a pointing dog has a legitimate chance at locating a covey. This is the reason that many seasoned quail hunters are sitting in a coffee shop around sunrise when they're planning to hunt instead of fighting what could be the equivalent of looking for a needle in a haystack. They will let the sun rise for a couple of hours, and then enter the field around 9 or 10 a.m. after birds have not only moved and left scent, but have also given them time to leave tracks. Any bird hunter who has hunted in the snow allows the dog to work a bit slower, and a bit longer, where there are fresh bird tracks. Which, in turn, leads to more covey rises and a dog that stays interested even longer by getting into birds quicker. So now is the time to sleep in. Be a little lazy and have that extra cup of coffee. If you can hold out until mid- morning, you will witness more covey rises during your late-season quail hunting trips. ■ For more information on quail hunting or to get your 2017 permit, visit Left to right: Bobwhite quail and quail tracks, hunter Brian Sparks shooting, and English pointer Jake, all in Cass County. Sleep-in Quail Hunting By Jeff Kurrus Hunters may want to take their time when hunting cold winter mornings – the birds do.

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