A South Texas Sojourn-Part 2

Like I was saying yesterday…In the winter months, during quail season in South Texas, they all go to one another’s places on the weekends to shoot and have a good time. We were lucky enough to be invited last weekend.

Not all bunk beds and barbed wire: the ranch we visited last weekend has style as big as Texas.

Our hosts, whose middle name is Hospitality and whose other middle names are Cute, Fun, Smart, Generous and Fabulous, organized a weekend that struck the perfect balance between activity and rest, which is an art. I hate to gush but sometimes you have to.

Yolo house
The house and guest rooms are organized around a courtyard planted with rosemary, sedum, succulents, flowering vines and an olive tree. Pretty terra cotta pots hold candles to light the way at night.
Yolo guest room
Our pretty, comfy room, with cowhide headboards, vintage quilts, antique rugs, and poured concrete floors.
Make tacos not war
A hint of the art collection.

Quail hunting of course goes on in other parts of the South. In North Carolina we do it on farms. In South Carolina, Georgia and North Florida they do it on plantations and it can be very fancy with mule-drawn carts, silverware, and servants in white coats.

Outrider at Yolo
Some quail shoots have outriders on horseback who search for coveys in advance of the dogs. When the hunters enter the field, the horsemen get out of the way.

Whatever the venue, quail hunting is a noble tradition and a beloved ritual. Walking (and walking) outdoors and watching the dogs work is glorious.

Dog on point
Still as a statue, a dog on point "holds" the birds until the hunter arrives within range. He then flushes the birds so they fly up and away. The ones that don't get away become dinner.

The dog handlers have a language all their own that is part musical and part military. For example, whooooaaa-uuupppp! means “Freeze, or I will dress you like Kermit the Frog for next year’s Christmas card.” That gets their attention. The dog has found a covey; he’s on point; and if he so much as blinks the other dogs will call him a shitz-tsu. Dey-et, ded-in-neh or “dead, dead in there” means there’s a bird down and the dog needs to find it. All the dogs have names like Sue, May, Pete and Buddy. They do not want to be called a shitz-tsu. Nothing against shitz-tsus; just not how they roll.

The second best thing about quail hunting is riding around in the truck telling stories.

Quail buggy
Quail hunting vehicles vary widely--my uncle's was a jeep with the doors cut off--but this one is quite a rig, with four doors and bench seating up top. Below the benches are the dog kennels. They get so excited they bark all the time--the dogs I mean--and the hostess stomps her foot above them to tell them to shhh, which works for about two and a half seconds.

If you are lucky there are tamales around 10–that’s what they do in Texas. They keep warm on the truck engine until ready to serve. I swear.

Tamales homemade by fellow house guests and toted clear from Fort Worth. The ones at top are savory; at bottom, sweet, with cinnamon and raisins. (I'd give you the recipe but they are a lot of trouble, trust me. On the other hand, they sure are worth it.
A tamale without hot sauce is like a tamale without hot sauce.

Lunch is always a highlight, and the apres-shoot beer or drink is the most satisfying of the day. (Shooting and drinking at the same time definitely do not mix.)

Shot glass
A shot of tequila or rum with a slice of orange is elegantly presented on the bed of a truck. The shot glasses, in the form of shotgun shells and in a boxed set from Beretta, were a gift from guests.

Dinner is especially relished because tromping around outside all day makes you hungry in a way that getting your nails done does not.

Yolo dinner table
This beautifully set table with its masses of freesias awaited us. Check the fab leopard and stag horn dining chairs in the background. To die.

More story-telling ensues, increasingly of the shaggy-dog variety, and much laughter. The shooting, it seems, is just an excuse.

By the way, the other two couples who joined us by no small coincidence have the same middle names as our hosts. (See second paragraph, above) They are longtime friends of His Grace’s, and warm, gracious, accomplished. You can tell a lot about a fellow by his friends: Great friends, great fellow. And not that I need reminding, but I’m a lucky girl.

Funny sign in Texas
A distinctive dwelling by the road next to a field where we hunted. Be sure to read the sign.


  1. I don’t usually hunt…but feel as though I was a fly on the wall for your hunt and I thoroughly loved it. Loved hearing about the planting, loved your paintings yesterday. Keep on keeping on!Love MW

  2. Oh Frances, you know MW has an eagle eye with her 12-guage!
    Loving your blog! Come see us in Lake Tahoe and Happy New Year!

  3. Frances – I am loving reading about your fabulous travels. I am living high though vicariously.

    Hoping our paths cross before too long.

  4. Hi Frances, I’ve been away from the South for too long. Did not realize that hunting still legal. Love your blog. Thank you for sharing. Best regards.
    Love, Amphone

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