Quail season opened Oct. 12 and many hunters are reporting good success.
My son, Gerry, along with a fellow school teacher from Tempe, hunted the second day, Saturday, near Rye Creek and both returned to the Valley with their limits.
Gerry phoned his parents to proudly proclaim he had downed four birds on one shot. Now, that's a first. I've heard of three on a single shot, but never four.
Immediately after downing the birds, Gerry called his hunting buddy over to witness the feat. He never did tell us how many boxes of shells he used up on missed wing shots.
Several local hunters say they have bagged their limits south of Payson in just one-half day of hunting.
That was to be expected. At the onset of the season, Arizona Game and Fish biologists were predicting that this year's desert quail season should be much better than last year's.
Of course, almost all longtime hunters recall 1979 as the best year ever for quail hunting.
In predicting this will be a good hunting season, biologists won't go so far as to say it will be as good as '79.
The best advice from seasoned hunters and the game and fish department is to hunt during the early season in areas of higher elevation.
The high desert areas around Payson and up to the juniper tree line should have good numbers of Gambel's quail.
Also expect to see pockets of Scaled and California quail.
With the weather warming up, hunt the bottoms of washes where there is dense shade and lots of mesquite beans.
Once the temperatures fall, hunt the higher elevations where the hillsides will be warm. Quail are creatures of comfort and thrive in that type of habitat.
On a hunt two years ago, the quail my two sons and I bagged sported purple beaks and bibs. That told us they had been feeding on prickly pear patches which is a good source of food. The quail thrive there, but the cactus makes it doubly tough to hunt and almost impossible to use a dog.
I haven't been able to find a free day to hunt since the season opened, but Jack Morris and I are planning a day-long session this week.
Another hunt season that opened Oct. 12 is for tree squirrels.
Like quail, the squirrel season is projected to be a banner one.
According to game officials, tree squirrels in northern Arizona are abundant, easy to find and live in some of the most majestic areas of the Rim country.
The prediction from game officials is that the season will be a good one because last winter was not very severe, there was a fair amount of winter precipitation, and last summer's pinecone crop was very good
Tree squirrels live in stands of large ponderosa pine trees at least 14 inches in diameter and fairly well spaced.
Officials say if you find one squirrel, there are usually more in the area.
Tree squirrel hunting for our family is out of the question. We live on the northern outskirts of Pine where the animals are abundant, tame and cherished as pets by my wife, Kay. She feeds, nourishes and cares for them. If I brought some home for dinner, I'd be sleeping on the deck.
Officials ask that all hunters check the 2001-2002 Arizona Hunting Regulations booklet for further information on the hunt season.