Bob White, Americas Own: No Game Bird Has So Wide a Range of Habitation, Daily Racing Form, 1919-02-04


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BOB WHITE, AMERICAS OWN No Game Bird Has So Wide a Range of Habitation. Tests Both Sajcacity of Dosr and Eye 1 and Nerve of Hunter. Of all the game birds of America, none is so endeared to the lover of country life or better appreciated by the sportsman than little Bob White. He i may be found from southern Maine and Canada to the Gulf, and from the Atlantic to the high central I plains, and he is known by various names. In i the north and east he Is called quail; in the south l and west he is partridge; while everywhere he is" i known as Bob White. Let us then call him as he ! calls himself, and wo will not be berated for our ignorance of natural history. Observation of the habits of this gallant and I affectionate bird has shown that he is naturally a monogamist. He selects his mate and makes his s courtship in the spring, soon after the snow and I frost have gone, when the willows have turned yellow and the frogs are piping in the marshes. In the month of May they build their simple nest, formed of a slight depression in the ground, lined j with soft leaves and dried grasses. This nest may be found under a tussock of grass, beneath a small 1 bush, in the brier-grown corner of a worm-fence, at the foot of an old stump, alongside a log, or , often In the open fields of wheat or clover. The nest is sometimes closed above with stubble mingled I ! with the grass tussock or briers, and provided with a side entrance; but the nest is as often found open above as closed. In this nest the hen-bird lays from one dozen to two dozen eggs of a pure, brilliant white. While the lien is laying, and during the time of nesting, the cock is the happiest of husbands. Filled with joy nnd pride, he sits on the low bough of- a neighboring tree, or perches on the fence rail quite near his spouse, whom he never wearies of telling that he is "Bob White your Bob White" in such a brilliant, happy voice that the farmer stops his work and the children leave their play to listen to him, and are happier for having heard him. In from three to four weeks the little downy young leave the egg, and even with pieces of eggshell yet sticking on their backs they go off with their parents to be taught to search for food. They feed on the seeds of various grasses, weeds, and cereals, and on berries; and they return a hundredfold the bounty of their landlord by destroying for his benefit not only countless numbers of destructive insects, but quantities of weed seed, one or two gills of which the adult birds can stow away in their little crops during a. days feeding. Old birds and young form one happy family, the young remaining with their parents until the following spring, in the pairing season, when the old ties are severed. BOB WHITE SCHOOLS WING SHOT. Bob White schools the wing shot as severely as the wily trout tries the angler. Like the trout, he has habits which we must be acquainted with in order to find him, and when found we ourselves may be found wanting. It requires much experience to be able to divine the whereabouts of Bob White. If the weather be fair, start early, for the birds will be on their feeding grounds at sunrise and will be found in the fields of stubble, or in the midst of the ragweed, and along the brier-fringed ditches; and do not forget the tield of buckwheat,, for they are especially fond of it. About ten or eleven they will cease feeding and will seek the sunny side of some covert, near a stream, where they will quench their thirst after their morning meal. Here they dust and preen themselves, and take their noonday siesta. The birds will generally remain here till three or four hours after midday, and, closely huddled as they are, they are difficuli for the dog to find. The sportsman, if wise, will now follow the example of the birds, and seeking the quiet of some sheltered sunny nook, will take his lunch nnd rest himself and his dogs. How well we remember that pleasant springsidc, witii the dogs stretched before us to catch the warm rays of the sun, their eyes furtively glancing at us, waiting for their share of the lunch; the fragrant! cigar; the pleasant jokes at our bad shots and untimely tumble, the generous admiration of our companions skill, and talk about the wonderful working of the dogs. If the weather is dry; do not seek the birds in the uplands, for- Bob White, though no hydropath-ist, likes the vicinity of water. But if your hunt occurs after a rainy spell, go to the upland stubble-fields, nnd "work your dogs along the border of the sunniest and driest of the coverts. If it is windy and cold the birds will bo found in covert along the sunny lee slopes of the valleys, in the tall ragweed and briers of the hollows, and on the sunny borders of the woods and hedge-rows. They will not now lie well to the dog, and when flushed will go like bullets Into the deepest thickets. Should you hope to prevent this by getting them in between you and the dogs, you may often be mistaken, for in all likelihood they will spring over your head like sparks from under a blacksmiths hammer. Shooting is now difficult, for you will have to turn rapidly on your heel as the bird passes over, you, and drop your line of sight upon him while he is only momentarily in sight. If you had a fair day yesterday, but after a long spell of wet weather, and you returned home last night in a clear, cold, quiet air, you may expect to see the sunshine of tomorrow sparkling in the hoarfrost which covers the ground and all the herbage. Tarry at home till the sun has nearly melted the ice off the meadows, for you will get nothing but wet legs by tramping the fields while the ground is iced and while the birds are yet huddled and have not spread their scent. Some sportsmen suppose that Bob White has the power of voluntarily retaining his scent, and thus in time of danger eludes the dogs. But it is more probable that when crouching with their wings closely pressed against their bodies so as to squeeze themselves into the smallest compass, this act, no doubt, causes a diminution in the emission of their effluvia. DOGS NEED TO RANGE WIDELY. When the dogs are seeking the coveys let them range widely. When they stand the covey do not exhaust yourself with haste In reaching them, but : approach leisurely and quietly. When the covey springs be quick, but steady, and do not fire . until you are sure of your aim. Remember that it is your left arm and wrist that direct your gun; so grasp it well forward on the fore-end, and . not near the breech, as some do. You will thus be able to give your gun that quick and firm motion which is indispensable to skill in "snapshooting"; and all shooting at Bob White is of that kind. To become a successful shot at Bob White the sportsman should bear in mind that Bob, immediately after ho has sprung, flies with a velocity which probably exceeds that of any other bird; and also that, unless fairly hit, he can carry off a number of pellets. Bob White is a tough and" hardy little fellow, and the true sportsman, always a . humane man, will remember this and endeavor to kill him outright. Often a bird will fly two or , three hundred yards, though mortally wounded. 1 It is the duty of all sportsmen carefully to watch the flight of birds he has shot at, and hW expert- , ence of the nature of their flight will tell him if : the bird has been struck. If lie concludes that he has been, then it is his bounden duty to bring that bird to bag, and that right quickly. 1 Rules for shooting are of value and directions j founded on theory may serve to inform the begin- 1 ner why he misses, and thus show him the way to improvement in his marksmanship; but no matter 1 how well we may know how the shooting should be done, to do it is an art which can be attained ! only by the assiduous cultivation and development of certain peculiar natural gifts. This takes practice and patience. . The beginner who, out of three shots, can bring 1 one Bob White to bag need not be discouraged or ashamed; with sufficient practice he may one day kill one out of two birds shot at. The sportsman j Who takes his chances Jn the onen and in covert on all birds which offer a probability of success to his skill, and who, the season through, brings . to his bag three out of five birds fired at, is an i accomplished sportsman. If he can make throe I successful shots out of four, he is a phenomenal marksman. J The best wing- shot I ever hunted with has writ- ten for me the following statement, which coming 1 from a sportsman who has had unusual opportu- t hlties in hunting Bob White in North Carolina, cannot fall to be of Interest to all sportsmen: s "I find, on referring to my record containing t the number of birds killed, that the average is but t little over thrre birds brought to bag from each covey flushed. When it is remembered -that the usual number of birds found in a covey runs from i ten to eighteen, it will give some idea of the diffi- cullies to be overcome, ami the large proportion of : birds that escape even with good shooting, as the same record shows that seventy-three out of every I hundred birds shot fit were brought to bag. This i record, extending over four years uud running up , 1 , : 1 j 1 1 ! 1 j . i I J 1 t s t t i : I i into the thousands of birds killed, gives reliable data to base, calculations upon." The shooting of Bob AVhite demands such quick action in handling the gun and such long tramps to discover his. retreats, that light guns arc in order. A pound .more in weight "will be felt in the "afternoon of a long days Jiunt, and the .rapidity and ease with which a light and short gun can be handled makes it efficient in snap-shooting in covert. A twelve-guage seven-pound gun, of twenty-eight Inch barrels, carrying one ounce No. S shot and twee drams of itowder, or a " sixteen-guagc of six ptiilnds weight and twenty-six inch barrels, charged with seven-eighths of an ounce of shot and two and three-quarters dram of powder, Is to my liking. It may also be sdld that the easy handling little twenty-jjuage with its slim, graceful tubes and lis three-quarters of an -ounce No. 8 shot propelled by two and one-quarter drams of one of the nitro powders is becoming more and more popular among good sportsmen who are devoted to this most enjoyable of field sports. If after a day of successful shooting over a con-isderable- area, the sportsman will count the number of couk and hen birds wllicli have fallen to his aiuu ho will find the former always outnumbering the latter. The exact ratio I do not know. I have but once separated them; then, Jn a bag of forty, I found twenty-four cocks to sixteen hens, hich ratio may be average. The average weight of Bob White varies considerably with the nature of his feeding ground, the weather preceding the tinie wu?u he is shot and the: age ot thV bird. Vrt,bnoi.v ss: ""i three-quarters ounces is a fair average weight. In southern Maryland I have - shot a few cock birds which weighed eight and one-quarter ounces, nnd one even as high in weight 11s eight anil three-quarters Xiunces. Fifty birds shot In the middle of North Carolina last December averaged seven ounces. Those .birds were cocks and hens, old and young, just ias they came to bag. Bob White is sometimes partly luignUory ja his habits. It is said that he has "a running. season" in October, when joining a pack, he leaves the region of his birth and travels on foot in a southerly anil easterly direction till , he reaches the Iwrders of streams and bays, where he " may remain till November, when he returns to his former haunts. These pilgrimages are particularly annoying to field trial associations, who sometimes find their carefully protected preserves bare of birds upon the eve of some important race, but whether these .mover incuts take place in response to some Instiiict or as a result of changes in food or climatic conditions has never been decided. That they do take place, however, all agree, and during his travels It would be useless to hunt him, for he then "runs with great rapidty before the dog. and will not take- wing. The energetic Bob White, if protected by the enforcement of judicious game laws, will thrive in cultivated- lands, though civilization rob them of their natural feeding grounds, and will continue- to test the gamecraft and markinauship of future generations. He Is destined to remain the game bird of America, and ho is worthy of it, for there Is none that has such .extended range in his feeding grounds and coverts. Forest and Stream.

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