2012You arrive at Quail Country, your heart beating with anticipation as loud as the guns you are itching to fire. When you walk in you are greeted by the friendliest people you could imagine, pulling a chair out from the dinner table for you and asking what you would prefer from their large selection of drinks: iced tea or sweet tea. Others gather around the table. When everything is set up, the conversation begins. If you were to record what we were saying and put it on national television, there would be to many bleeps to follow the topic.
When the evening is finished, you are scooted up to your room, which is so close in looks to the next one over that you are often accused of trespassing in someone else's bedroom until you convince them that you are in the right room.
Georgia, I find, is the one place in the world that one can hear gunshots and not have to worry. BANG BANGBANGBANGBANG BANG- the shots slowly fade away as you drift off to sleep. You wake up to the swishing of brush pants echoing throughout the lodge. The breakfast grits are scarfed down and everyone gathers outside, orange head to toe, gun in hand, to watch the parade of Jeeps barreling down the gravel path. You have to be quick on your feet to get your favorite guide or favorite dog. And when you yourself are barreling down the gravel path in the dog-filled Jeep, you know the fun is about to begin.
The shooting actually starts off pretty slow as you take practice shots at pine cones and obliterate tiny pine trees at point blank. Then comes the real thing. When dogs go on point, there's no moving them until you send a flusher dog in to scare the birds up high enough to shoot. Sometimes you are so sucked into shooting the quail that you don't notice the land mine of fire ants that your foot is resting on. Much like a land mine, if you step on one it will ruin your whole day. Fire ants to me are tiny warriors of darkness, stopping at nothing to suck the happiness out of a day- with one exception: You can shoot it on purpose and watch as the tiny red warriors angrily emerge from their disturbed pile of dirt to seek revenge.
There are not many things better than wading through waist high prickers trying to make it to the cramping dogs in time for the wind of the wings to brush against your face before you pull the trigger and hear a satisfying thud of dead bird meat. The dogs aren't the only ones cramping up. Towards the end of the hunt, all four limbs begin to feel like gummy worms but you don't have the guts to give up the last covey. Much like a long day on the water, the rocking of the Jeeps returns in your bed, and thoughts like "Is my safety on?" and "I've got one in the chamber and one in the magazine" ring through your mind.
You wake up the next morning so achy it's hard to move, but the pain dissolves with every thump of dead bird. Before you know it the hunt is over, and soon the trip is over too, and you'll find that it is very hard to part with Quail Country.