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.
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.
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.
Whatever the venue, quail hunting is a noble tradition and a beloved ritual. Walking (and walking) outdoors and watching the dogs work is glorious.
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.
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.
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.)
Dinner is especially relished because tromping around outside all day makes you hungry in a way that getting your nails done does not.
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.