Opening day, Dunhill Ranch, with New Mexico Miscellany…

 2012 and 2014 (what were we doing in 2013?), both with no game in the bag, though this year we saw plenty and expect to get some doves, and with luck GOOD quail. Best grass in years, food plants everywhere, cottontails same, and probably more jacks. Deer sign. If we have a snowy winter we will be back to as normal as erratic arid lands ever are. Too damn warm though.


2012, with a bit of the country. You are looking from Piet and Jessica’s to a neighbor’s place a few miles away, twelve miles or so south of town and further off the
pavement, on the west side of the range. The grasslands are at nearly 7000 feet, the main ridge at ten, the highest peak (off camera to the right) almost eleven. You can see if you look carefully that it was much drier. The first photo, above,  is looking north; this one due east.

Below, P & J’s terrace for post- hunt drinks, looking southeast; highest peak is South Baldy, at 11,720 I think; it  has the observatory and Lightning Lab. Me and Piet, having walked a lot further and seen nothing. For gun geeks, Piet has his old AyA sidelock 20 in all photos; above, my favorite English .410 by Turner; below, Model 12 20.

I wish I had taken a photo yesterday of this view below: it is now all filled in green, and lush. Piet has cut his stock to a minimum and is temporarily feeding them, but apparently the destructive kangaroo rats have taken a population dive, and their mounds, which provide much of the sandy brown in the middle ground, are all fallen in and grown over.

This is good, but don’t look too carefully at your blessings. A neighbor’s dog has just come up with one of the two most unnerving New Mexico diseases- Yersinia pestis; you know, Plague, the Black Death? “Home of the Flea, Land of the Plague”, as the T Shirt used to say. And its reservoir is wild burrowing rodents.

5 thoughts on “Opening day, Dunhill Ranch, with New Mexico Miscellany…”

  1. Same thing here. 2012 was the surface of Dune, last year was marginally better, and this year everything is unbelievably lush, especially considering how grim the year started out. I obviously rung the bells 'o doom a little too soon regarding this year's quail season, because my spots are looking better than they have in years.

    Hope you shoot a few dove. I just returned from the first hunt of the year (to hell with those opening day yobs…)where my son shot his first-ever limit. It was nice, despite the fact that I couldn't convince him to use an O/U to do it. Instead, he's become quite smitten with an old 1100 of mine. I've failed as a parent…

  2. I can't help thinking how my beagles would love to worry the cottontails in THAT landscape. Dry, but they are cold nosed. Doves in Minnesota were abundant. I used a 16 gauge LC Smith a serviceable dove gun.

  3. Not many migratory birds in SoCal yet, some are down but local birds are making up half the bag. Rosey, my English Cocker is getting good work in though. I have been out 5 of the first seven days of the season for little short hunts and we are eating dove. Quail season looks like it will be bust here so I plan on hitting southern Arizona a couple of times this year, the early monsoons have been a boon to the Mearns Quail. I had a knee replaced in June so hiking the hills will be a lot slower but I still plan on going.

  4. Dove season in SoCal has been good to my English Cocker Rosey and me. The big migration hasn't hit here but there are enough new birds that the take has been 50/50 with migrants and residents. The drought has hit our quail population hard, the coveys that are around won't be able to take much pressure. Luckily the monsoons came early to Arizona and the Mearns quail seasons looks to be good so we will make a couple of Arizona trips this year. Rosey has made some stunning retrieves this year, for a cocker that is. My new knee has slowed me down but not enough to stop me from hunting.

  5. Had time for a little 40 minute dove hunt this evening. Not to much happening as a hurricane from Mexico has us covered in clouds all day. I shot at two birds, hit them both but one recovered on the way down and flew to an old oak only to be taken by a sharpshin that was watching the action,oh well, the hawks have to eat also.I had a great sunset to watch this evening, too bad I can't post a picture here


Leave a Comment