Tuesday, July 29, 2014
The necessity of hustling for a dollar here and a dollar there means that - apart from my own personal activities - I'm not nearly as involved with or even following the whole upland conservation scene these days as much as I'd like or should. But if you're a quail hunter in Oklahoma, (and there seem to be a few more of them in these days of a population upswing) you really should consider joining QF.
Recently QF hired a state coordinator, Laura McIver, and she is, quite frankly, tearing it up. In the space of six months or so, QF's presence in Oklahoma has gone from a few diehards comprising a single chapter in OKC, to something like five or six chapters statewide, with more sure to follow. In a state where over the past thirty years or so quail hunting has fallen from being a ubiquitous cultural icon to a largely-forgotten curiosity practiced mainly by old farts and solitary weirdos like myself, that's pretty remarkable.
I noticed last week there is a brand-new conservation group (sort of, if you count what amounts to a listserv as a conservation group) ostensibly dedicated to deer. Read between the lines, however, and it's really all about whitetails. You can probably take a guess as to my opinion on the need for yet another group or organization dedicated to those tasty, photogenic, hooved locusts, so I'll merely suggest that if you're a hunter with a few extra bucks (so to speak), you save your energy and resources for those species that are really in trouble, like quail or prairie grouse, (or, if you're into the ungulates, mule deer). I can hear the impending howls of indignation set to rain down upon me from the deerstalkers (of which I am one, ardently). I love whitetails, I really do. I love to hunt them, I love to watch them, and I love to eat them, but I see absolutely no need for even more of our already-stretched conservation advocacy energies going toward a game animal so patently not in need of it. (I've got my own thoughts on the alleged recent "declines" in whitetail numbers across some parts of the country that so many hunters are alarmed about, but I'll save them for another time, but I ask: is a decline really a decline if that decline is coming from within a cartoonish, artificially high population to begin with?).
Anyway...It wasn't too long ago that many of us (including me) were predicting that within a few years the sport of quail hunting would become a sort of shotgun-based falconry, a tiny cult practiced by a dwindling group of monkish devotees. Well, two years of decent nesting conditions (at least in Oklahoma) and a mild upswing in quail numbers has revealed there are a few more of us still around than originally thought. Although I am by nature and choice a solitary hunter who avoids gregariousness, even I admit this is a good thing. We need more quail hunters in this state, because we need more advocates for quail and other upland birds. And as advocates for birds and upland habitat go, QF is a pretty damn good group with a high ROI. So if you're an Oklahoma quail hunter - current, former or wannabe - who wants to do something proactive for your passion so that it may not disappear in the future, go join one of those new QF chapters springing up across the state. It's a good thing. Just don't bother me when I'm out hunting.
Posted by Chad Love at 9:51 AM