Bobs on a Budget

56964811-98f6-4087-b97a-12d12c37778f By Jim Casada

My Grandpa Joe, a hard-working old codger who was as full of tricks as a pet ‘coon and absolutely enthralled by the outdoor experience, loved what he called “dreamin’ and schemin’.” This involved discussion of elaborate hunting trips which would take the two of us (I was his adoring sidekick in these mythical planning sessions) to some distant destination where game was plentiful and where we could, for a few days, experience a sportsman’s “life of Reilly.”

Possibly because he had appreciable experience with quail, or perhaps because the feathered bundles of dynamite particularly struck his fancy, Grandpa most often dreamed and schemed about places where “pottiges are as plentiful as pig tracks.”

Of course, it never happened. Of such modest means than he invariably used the term “cash money” when referring to the few dollars resting in his battered wallet, Grandpa never learned to drive much less owned an automobile. Still, vestiges of his cherished visions remain, and in today’s world, it is possible for the dedicated quail hunter possessing sufficient gumption and willingness to do his homework to mutter the words “road trip” and turn them into satisfying reality. Here are some pointers on how to pursue bobwhites on a budget.

Make use of the Internet 

Computer search engines can be a staunch ally offering everything from information on where quail populations are highest to maps of public hunting land. You can also find out about licenses (and order them on-line), locate places where modest trespass fees provide access to private property, garner contact information on state wildlife departments and their upland game specialists, and much more. Such research doesn’t require high-level computer skills. Just enter basic words or phrases and go from there.

Pick your target area

Decide on the general geographical area on which you wish to focus and work from there. Generally speaking, as matters presently stand you will be best served by focusing on the American heartland. States such as Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri come immediately to mind. They offer goodly quail numbers and ample public land, the two factors which should be of the utmost importance in your planning (Texas, for example, has lots of quail but little public hunting ground).

Dive into the details

Once you have meaningful preliminary geographical information in hand, get down to the real nitty-gritty. That means checking on hunting seasons, the cost of a license and any required stamps, and giving thought to what will be your biggest expenses—food, travel, and lodging. If you are willing to rough it a bit by towing a trailer or even more so by camping, opting to do your own cooking and travel with your own shelter mean appreciable savings. Just check on area campgrounds or state parks with camping facilities. If you go the motel /café route, you will want to find reasonably-priced accommodations, check on whether you will be able to deal with your canine companions in suitable fashion, and scope out local eateries.

Cultivate local contacts

There are various ways of finding kindred souls willing to share meaningful information, but state wildlife departments and individual game biologists always offer good starting points. For this part of your research, check out the state agency websites and go from there. A different type of local contact, and one which could prove invaluable (especially if you have a gift for gab and an innate ability to cultivate new friends), can be fellow quail hunters. You might find them through nearby chapters of Quail Forever or regional representatives (their contact information appears in the front pages of this magazine).
When taking this route, it’s a good idea to have a quid pro quo available. For example, if you are planning to ask a stranger for some cherished secrets he’s far more likely to react positively if you can offer some deer or turkey hunting by way of reciprocating. Also, be sure “thank you” is part of your research stock in trade. As Grandpa Joe was fond of saying “’thank yous don’t cost anything but they go a long way.” Building up good will can be a major factor in making a budget-based trip a success.

There’s more, much more, to successfully planning a meaningful few days away in a pursuit of pure pleasure, but these pointers will give you a solid start. Beyond that, just keep in mind that the more careful your research and the more meticulous your planning the greater your likelihood of success. When careful preparation results in dreams becoming budget-based reality, yours will be the great self-satisfaction of wearing a game vest weighted down in feathered fulfillment.