Kelly Reyna

PEOPLE OPPOSED to hunting are so focused on the end results they never see the big picture. In quail hunting, the dog work is what the hunt is about.

YANTIS — I usually do not concern myself much with the hardcore anti-hunters, because quite honestly I see them as little more than a pimple on an elephant’s behind.

But on a recent quail hunt at Hidden Lakes Hunting Resort I could not help but think about the one thing people opposed to hunting miss. They are so focused on the end results they never see the big picture. As a friend calls it, they have an illogical bias, and I realize I am never going to change their mind.

Only a half-day in length, the quail hunt was a microcosm of what hunting really is. It could have been considered a success as soon as I pulled into the parking lot and met my two hunting partners for the day, old friend Ted Lyons and new friend Kelly Reyna. What happened after that made it even better.

I haven’t hunted with Lyons since the 1980s, when he was a state senator. During his tenure in Austin I talked to him a lot because he was passionate about wildlife and fishing in the state and worked hard to make it better.

Now a lawyer in the Dallas area, he has never lost his passion for hunting as well as working behind the scenes to improve wildlife in Texas, especially quail.

Reyna is a biologist working to reverse the downward spiral of bobwhite quail in the state. He has now settled in at Texas A&M-Commerce where he is conducting research and helping to revitalize a wildlife program there.

Hidden Lakes guide Daniel Cerretani, who has also become a friend over the years, and a brace of pointers and Labs rounded out the group.

As the dogs raced back and forth trying to pick up a scent we began our walk and started talking about everything from crappie fishing to grouse hunting in Montana, shotguns and the future of quail. There may have even been a little ribbing about missed shots.

There was the cussing of dogs that busted birds and the praise of dogs that locked up on a point or stopped in honor of another’s point. Of course in quail hunting the dog work is what the hunt is about.

Every type of hunting has its draw. For duck hunters, it is calling the birds within range and watching the dog scan the skies for movement before diving into the frigid water for a retrieve. For deer hunters, it is the years of management and the hope that at any moment a giant might appear. In turkey hunting, it is the interaction with an old gobbler, calling them in as close as possible for a shot. For dove hunting, maybe one of the simplest forms of hunting, it is all about the skill required to hit one of the darting birds. It is also the idea that after a hunting layoff of months, the fall hunting season has returned.

But for quail hunters it is the dogs. They are amazing athletes that would run all day if allowed. Their ability to pick up a scent 30 yards away is uncanny. It is pure art to watch them stop on a dime, lock up on point and not move for however long it takes for a hunter to find them.

Back in the days when owning a kennel of dogs was common around Texas I knew hunters in slow years like this one who would take their dogs and walk pastures just to watch the dogs work. The hunter’s shotgun would be tucked away at home.

And they knew lineage of a dog like cattlemen knew the offspring of bulls or horsemen put importance of what horse sired a colt. There were dogs that were held in reverence because of their work afield and their offspring were highly sought after.

As the morning wore on we eased around the field. The conversation continued. The dog work continued to receive praise. Compliments were given for good shots, jeers for misses.

And that is the big picture. Honestly, we did not even count how many birds were shot that morning. It did not matter as much as the time spent afield. How many we shot becomes important when the birds are being fried and all the good dog work and the hits and misses are remembered once again.

So the next time a true anti-hunter is spewing sailboat fuel, keep moving. If a non-hunter truly wants to know why you hunt, tell them about your friends, the places you have been, the things you have seen and, oh yeah, the supper you made.

For more information on hunting Hidden Lakes Hunting Resort go online to https://www.hiddenlakeshr.com or call 903-383-7100.

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