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Illinois hunting and fishing

Above is Rambo, one of Gus Schaub’s bird dogs, pointing a covey of quail in Peoria County. Though not the setter mentioned in this story, Schaub said Rambo was “one heckuva dog.”

A quail hunt to remember

January 17, 2010 at 02:08 AM

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here is a story by Gus Schaub (pictured below at right), a 62-year-old quail hunter from Elmwood.

The wooden gate

At one time, the wooden gate was used daily. But when I first saw it, the gate had not been opened or closed for years.

The gate was on a farm an old friend and I were quail hunting that looked quite promising. Illinois hunting and fishingThe property we were hunting belonged to my cousin and was adjacent to land being developed for commercial use.

It was a November morning and the sun was just starting to burn off the overnight frost. In front of us was a blue-and-white speckled English setter. This was my second hunting adventure with the setter that I had recently purchased. The first hunt had been unsuccessful.

We hunted for about 30 minutes, just tagging along, talking like good friends do on such an enjoyable morning. Watching the setter weave and quarter across the field and ditches was such an enjoyable sight. As we walked to the end of the property we crossed the ditch so we could come back on the other side of the creek. We continued walking, talking and just enjoying the way the setter handled himself.

As we did we got closer to the gate and the cross fence where the gate served its purpose. At that point there was a large bush and tall weeds and grass.

As we approached, there he was in one of the most beautiful sights any quail hunter could witness: A beautiful English setter frozen on point, tail not quite straight up but not moving, with only loose tail hairs waving in the morning’s light breeze. Other than that, the dog was motionless.


This hunt happened more than 20 years ago. But I can still remember the point as if it were yesterday, the flush of quail as if it just happened. I cannot remember how many quail were killed or missed or how many shots were fired.

I can remember the beautiful retrieves as if this setter had done it every day.

I can remember returning to the truck and having a hot cup of coffee and talking about the beautiful hunt we had just enjoyed.

I can remember this and many other good hunts old Mac and I enjoyed.

But the old gate is gone. The big bush is gone. In their place is concrete and blacktop.

The developer

I wonder what the developer of the property would have thought if he had walked there that day and seen me and old Mac?

“What are those men in orange vests doing there?”

“And why doesn’t the dog move?”

“Those old guns they have look almost inoperable. Why would they hunt with something so old, with no bluing and the stock and forearm scratched and faded?”

“What would two grown men be doing watching a dog frozen for a few precious moments by an old gate on a beautiful November morning?”

The operator

Can you imagine what the operator of the bulldozer would think if he was getting ready to push the gate and the fence down while we were there?

“Is that dog standing there to be pushed away, too?”

“What about the two guys in brush pants with beat up guns? They should have enough sense to move, or do they?”

“Why are they just standing there and admiring that blue-and-white dog that is just standing there, his tail in the air and his nose straight out?”

I bet he would wait. Wait as we took a step or two and the air exploded with birds. Then he’d watch aswe lifted our guns. Some birds would fall. Most would fly away. After a command, the dog would run off and then return with a tiny bird and a mouthful of feathers. One of us would bend over to take the bird from the dog. And then the blue-and-white blur would be off again.

Only then would the operator be ready to push over the gate, the bush, the grass and the fencerow.

More memories

Old Mac is gone. The blue-and-white dog is gone. All that remains are memories, concrete and blacktop—poured in the name of progress.

I have not been back to any of the properties around this farm, but I can still remember some of the sounds and smells that we encountered in between the point and the rise of the covey.

Off in the distance I remember hearing the sound of a hog feeder lid slamming as a pig backed out after feeding ... the scolding call of a blue jay in a nearby tree ... a calf in a pasture bawling for its mother ... a chickadee pecking on a diced-up horseweed ... a crow cawing.

I can still smell the freshly harvested corn field ... the odor of an old hunting coat that must have hung in a basement ... the smell of the snuff Old Mac chewed.

A question

I have not been back to any of the properties around this farm. But I wonder, if a fellow would stop on a soft June morning and listen, would he hear the call of a bird from that covey that provided us so many memories on that beautiful November morning? Would there be a big, proud bobwhite sitting on top of an old hedge corner post that holds up an old wooden gate?

Illinois hunting and fishing

Above is a picture of Schaub’s hunting buddies Frank Cernich (left) of Farmington and Bob Strode of Maquon after a successful quail hunt along the Spoon River.


Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Nice story but a little sad too. I’m old enough to remember hunts like that. I have not heared or have seen a quail in years at my place theres plenty cover but just no birds.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/17 at 09:13 AM

A little sad. Yep it reads like a good county western song and the picture at the end could be the album cover LOL.
RR tracks, fencerows, drainage ditches and multiflora rose. Man I’m getting old sitting here typing about the glory days.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/17 at 11:27 AM

Quail hunting in Illinois is alive and well in certain areas. We have about a dozen spots we hunt.  In the last two weeks of the season we went out four days and went to 5 or 6 different places.  We found at least one covey in every spot and found three coveys in one spot.  This isn’t by accident, alot of scouting was made.  Also looking for the obvious signs.  Good cover near a food source.
As we came up to one of our favorite spots, to our disappointment, we found someone must have gotten a new bulldozer for Christmas.  Two ditches that normally held birds were completely dozed up, with enormous brushpiles in place.  Luckily the third ditch had been dozed, but not entirely, and we were able to kick up one covey. 
We don’t worry so much about losing birds as we worry about losing cover.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/17 at 11:43 AM

Five star article that really hits home. I have been a bird hunter and field trialer for many years and have fell victom of a similiar situation myself years ago. I know by reading the comments many of the readers have. This tells oneself that many have felt the pain and have shed tears watching a premier hunting spot turn into something else besides good cover.
I use to hunt a section of old railroad tracks that homed both pheasants and quail that I dearly loved to hunt with my dogs. This area along with others that I would hunt would be hunted on a managed point of view with myself. I would never put to much pressure on any one spot for the sake of the wild birds that would be there. To me this is one of many factors in having and keeping a good bird population there. One morning my dogs and I showed up to find a big yellow kitty cat(Bulldozer) clearing the trees and brush to nothing but piles of debris. Yes, tears started to form as I watched the dozer take away the spot that meant so much to my dogs and me. I drove back home that morning feeling hurt and angry and told myself to always remember the good times that we had there and they will never be forgotton. I still drive by there from time to time just to take a look and know what use to be there.
Something that I do have as a rememberance of that spot is a beautiful wild cock pheasant that my female Brittany Patches pointed out. The bird was harvested and sported a tail feather of over 25 inches long. It sits mounted on the mantle of our fireplace, along with pictures of our beloved Overtime Patches.
Once again thankyou for your heartfelt desire of being a bird hunter and ownership of loved bird dogs.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/17 at 09:05 PM

  Great story. I know Dad is looking down now and saying “keep on knock’n em down Gus”. He loved hunting, especially bird hunting. And I know he really liked hunting with you. Thanks for the story. I can add it to all of the other stories I have about Dad Mac.
                    T. MAC

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/19 at 09:01 AM

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