The Fugitives – Apologies to David Janssen, Harrison Ford and Quinn-Martin Productions

Quail Fail – A Cautionary Tale


No this has nothing to do with Dr. Richard Kimble, The One-Armed Man or Tommy Lee Jones’ famous dragnet speech.  Although I did paraphrase it when I gave Camera Girl instructions during our manhunt (er… quail-hunt).  “Now listen up, Camera Girl, our fugitives have been on the run for a month. Average foot speed over uneven ground, barring injuries, is 4 miles-an-hour. That gives us a radius of 3,000 miles. What I want out of you is a hard-target search of every henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in that area.  Your fugitive’s name is anonymous semi-domesticated quail.  Go get them.”  She shook her head derisively and went back to her mystery novel.  So, I was on my own.

Two years ago, I received a game camera as a present.  I decided to set it up near where the feeder/lure station is located.  I left it for a week.  When I recovered it, I had some very exciting shots of me on my riding lawnmower.  There were also a couple of clear night vision shots depicting some grass moving right underneath the camera location.  I’m guessing a field mouse.

Things were looking pretty bleak for the quail project.  No sightings for a week or two.  And only that stupid lure to provide any quail related phenomena.  But then on Wednesday afternoon during a walk around the property with Camera Girl we both heard it.  The unmistakable annoying call of the bob white quail.  It was on the other side of the property close to a small pond that we heard it.  I tend to avoid that area because it’s quite swampy around the pond.  A grown man can sink up to his knees in mud pretty easily.  But I have decided to set out the camera somewhere near the pond and see what shows up.  I’ve captured shots of deer, coyotes, turkey and fishers (or fisher cats as they are called locally) in that area but with any luck I’ll photograph the fugitive quail gang.

In retrospect, I feel that releasing the quail without first acclimating and imprinting them on my property was a mistake.  Next year when (or if) I try again I’ll set up a quail house in the back field and allow them to become established and used to finding food there before giving them some freedom.  But even though releasing them wasn’t optimal, it has given me a chance to see if quail can fend for themselves around my area.  If this group survives the winter even marginally that will make it much more likely that a long-term presence is not an unreasonable expectation.  Plus, they are kind of interesting looking little buggers.  I’m really hoping I’ll have the chance to see them foraging on their own in the area.  And sure, I’ll even enjoy hearing their pathetic wimpy call.

Every henhouse, outhouse and doghouse…  Boy that was a fun speech.  Too bad Tommy Lee Jones was a friend of Al Gore.  That really kind of ruins it.