Tips for a Successful Late Season Quail Hunt

by Jason Brooks

With just a few weeks left in the upland bird hunts for Washington it is time to start changing up tactics a bit to increase your success on late season quail. The birds have been hunted hard now for several months but thanks to these small and tasty birds the broods are often large enough to handle the extra-long season of opportunities. But once the temperatures plummet you will need to change how you approach the day’s hunt.

Birds don’t start their daily movements until well after the sun is up when it’s cold-Jason Brooks

Don’t start too early

Though we often like to be in the hills at first light, and with that being somewhere after breakfast anyway this time of year, birds are slow to come out of the roost. Quail are mostly a ground roosting bird which means they will often be holding under sagebrush and dense cover until the sun hits and starts to warm them up. The tiny birds will roost in thick spruce or pine trees if available so look for a sage covered hillside that might also have a stand of evergreens. I find most of my birds in the middle of the day.

Quail hunting in the middle of the day is the most productive-Jason Brooks

Don’t hunt late

Just like how the birds don’t really get moving until mid-day they also tend to head for their nighttime safety early in winter. As the sun starts for the far horizon quail will start to shorten their movements and stop feeding. The key to a late season bird hunt is to maximize the middle of the day when the birds are out moving and actively feeding.

The author prefers to use his side by side with size 6 shot-Jason Brooks

Pick the right shotgun, load and choke

With the cold temperatures I will bundle up in layers of wool, down jackets and gloves. Auto-loading shotguns help with the lack of needing to move a pump and aid your follow-up shots. If you do use a pump-action then be sure to use a gun oil that can take cold temperatures. I prefer to use my side by side as it is a challenge as well as a great gun to shoot. Tighten your chokes up from Improved Cylinder to Modified if you wish to continue to use light shot such as size 7 1/2’s. This will help with the dense plumage the birds have put on since early fall. Instead of changing the choke consider moving up to size 6 shot in a high brass. The wider choke allows for an increased pattern size and the larger shot helps penetrate the feathers.

Late season quail will hold very tight, even with a dog on full point-Jason Brooks

Expect tight holding birds

In the early season it seems I can barely get close enough to a covey before they bust and flush. I don’t mind this as it allows me to pick up singles and doubles on the second approach. But in winter the cold weather and snows make it so the birds don’t want to flush easily. This past weekend we were hunting with our Hungarian Vizsla and one bird was six inches off her nose and still wouldn’t flush. The dog held point and I kicked the bush a few times to get it to fly. Since the birds hold so tight most shots will be very close which is another reason to keep the choke wide and use a larger shot.

Hunt into the wind to give your dog the best chance to find the birds-Jason Brooks

Watch the weather

Cloudy days and days with lots of moisture, either in snow or fog, makes for a long and tough day of bird hunting. This is mostly because the birds will be in dense cover to keep from getting wet and cold. It can be almost impossible to get a covey to move or flush in these conditions. More than once I have seen quail running around in a big thicket but no matter what I did they wouldn’t flush. Try and hunt sunny days as the birds will be on the move and out in the warm sunlight. If there is a breeze then make sure to work your dog into the wind as the scent can travel and cause your dog to “false point” when hunting with the wind or even pick up birds from behind. I’ve made the mistake of hunting with the wind and walk right past birds only to have them flush behind me.

A late season quail hunt is one of the best ways to spend a winter day-Jason Brooks

Keep in mind that if you are cold then so is your dog. Give them some extra food at the end of the day to help them regulate their temperatures and get their strength back. Water for your four legged hunting partner and for yourself is often overlooked in the winter. Be sure to offer it to your dog regularly. The season is only a few weeks away from the end so on the next sunny day get out and chase some late season quail.

Jason Brooks
The Outdoor Line Blogger

Zelus Insoles – Breathing Life into my Hunting Boots

By Rob Endsley

I’ve spent countless time shopping for a new mid-elevation hunting boot and have yet to come up with a more comfortable boot than my Danner Pronghorns. My feet are accustomed to them and I’ve logged hundred’s of miles in these boots with very few blisters. Instead of spending money on a new set of treads I opted to breath a little life into my Danners by swapping out the old insoles with advanced Olympus insoles from Zelus.

Zelus insoles offer impact reduction, superb arch support, and a cushioned yet springy feel from the Smart Cell technology that acts as the foundation of these insoles.

The nice thing about these insoles is that I could trim them to fit into my boots without the risk of bursting an air bladder or damaging the integrity of the insole. With a little trimming around the edges with some scissors they fit perfectly into my Pronghorns.

I tested Zelus insoles over the course of three grueling mule deer hunts this fall in Washington, Nevada, and Montana. All three hunts involved extremely steep terrain, countless miles of hiking, and heavy packouts. I never really kept track but I’m guessing the mileage total of all three hunts at around 50 to 75 miles.

The insoles didn’t suffer any compression issues and they felt much the same on my last day of hunting as they did the first day I used them. On one brutal packout I hauled 120 pounds of meat and equipment for four and a half miles over steep, broken terrain and didn’t even get the hint of a blister. The photo below is what the Smart Cells look like on my Olympus insoles after all this abuse. They look exactly the same as the day I slid them into my boots.

Hunting is my passion and I’ll do just about anything to get a few more years of mountain time out of my legs. I could definitely feel the difference these Zelus insoles made this fall and I’m looking forward to more advancements from this great company based right here in the Pacific Northwest.


Here’s a discount code that will get you 25% off your Zelus insoles for this holiday season!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle  


Canyon River Ranch With Jay “The Bone” Buhner

I’ve always been chided by, well, everybody for my lack of fly fishing expertise.

The sad fact is, I really have no defense to the criticism. Most anglers careers follow some type of meaningful progression. You know, dunking worms as a kid in the local pond to fly fishing in some exotic destination. Unfortunately, my development as an angler was stunted, basically stopping at salmon fishing with herring, essentially using a piece of meat to catch a bigger piece of meat.

So, when the opportunity to cast and blast Canyon River Ranch with Mariner legend Jay Buhner presented itself, I knew I had a challenge ahead of me. The “blast” part of the equation didn’t concern me as much as the “cast” …but, we’ll get back to that later.

I had never been to the Canyon River Ranch before and was pleasantly surprised to find it so close to home!








Once you get there, it’s a unbelievably luxurious and affordable destination that’s just like a slice of Montana less than two hours east of Seattle!












Since I had my black lab Bailey with me, the good folks at the Ranch assigned me the “dog friendly” room… The nicest room the mutt and I ever stayed in, no question about it!

Once we got settled, it was time to check out Red’s Fly Shop. From the outside it looks inviting…

Once inside, Steve Joyce and his crew offer expertise in every aspect of the Canyon River Ranch experience from sporting clays to pheasant hunting to yes, fly fishing!

Your cast and blast adventure at the Canyon River Ranch begins at the crack of 8:30 when the pheasant hunt begins. Here’s Jay Buhner and I with the morning’s batch of roosters. Bailey the black lab was a little reluctant to have her picture taken…

As if by magic, after lunch the drift boats appear waiting to take you down the Yakima River Canyon.

With Canyon River Ranch’s Steve Joyce on the oars, Jay Buhner grabbed the stern of the boat which left the bow for me…and the camera man. This outing will be coming to a TV near you soon in the form of “ProGuide Outdoors” on Root Sports starting in January 2014.

Up ahead lay the Yakima River Canyon. I’ve floated many, many rivers in Washington State and this may be the most unique and beautiful river that this state has to offer.

Jay Buhner is a simply a fly casting machine once the winds came up and we switched from small dry flies to streamers it was “Bone” clinic time. Here’s a fine Yak rainbow.

Rainbow brute #2 goes to…you guessed it. The Bone strikes again and I’m learning that there is a lot more to casting and stripping streamers than you’ld think!

Jay and ProGuide Producer/Editor Russell Cameron of OMG Multimedia share a few thoughts at the end of a fun filled cast and blast day!

I learned more than a few things on this trip. First, Jay Buhner is a great guy and a fanatical fly fisherman. Second, Canyon River Ranch is a wonderful destination, capably operated by a whole bunch of wonderful, knowledgeable people. Lastly, I need to work on my streamer casting technique and as soon as I get this ice bag off my casting shoulder, i’m going to do just that!

 Tom Nelson                                                                                                                      The Outdoor Line                                                                                                                                                                        710 ESPN Seattle

It’s in Your Hands, Don’t Put it in Theirs

By Jeff Lund

Wednesday I picked up my new Remington shotgun. I paid for it eleven days prior, and since the computer searched the vast nothingness that is my criminal record and found nothing, I was able to begin the latest chapter in my life as a responsible gun owner.

My parents wouldn’t even allow me to go hunting or get a gun unless I took a hunter safety course, which instilled in me the importance of understanding purpose. It is now my unwritten, assumed duty, to never treat any weapon as a toy and use it only in a lawful manner on bright orange discs, ducks, or upland game.

But it’s not so simple. I started thinking over the past week and a half about this waiting period. People believe that as long as guns, particularly handguns, are a part of a free society, there will always be violence as if before bullets, everyone got along. Following tragedies stemming from negligence or extreme malice there is usually a cry for someone to do something. That usually falls to the government and politicians with crisp suits and public relation talking points. We live in a free country, but thanks to our violence problem, our idiot problem, our gang problem and our law enforcement funding problem, we suffer.

The Centers for Disease Control reported 11,493 homicide deaths in 2009 and that number hardly covers the true impact. Then comes the debate.

The NRA likes to promote that the national murder rate is the lowest in almost half a century. News organizations and blogs like to cite a study by the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery that found among the world’s 23 wealthiest countries, 80 percent of all gun deaths are American deaths.

The gun stats are tragic, there is absolutely no doubt, but is a more tightly gripped federal hand on a Constitutional right the answer? According to Forbes the United States sits behind Qatar, Luxembourg, Singapore, Norway, Brunei, and the United Arab Emirates in per capita wealth. (Talk about oil and natural gas dependancy). If we compare ourselves to those countries in one statistical category, we should also look at the context and consider if the comparative alternative is better. Luxembourg is wealthy and has less violent crime, it also has a population of 517,000.

Should we be more like No. 3 Singapore where in 1994 a 19-year old American was caned as punishment. His crime? Vandalism. Can you imagine the protests if United States judges levied beatings for convicts? Recently a Qatari poet was sentenced to life in prison for criticizing his government. Probably not a lot of gun control issues in that wealthy country where freedom is sacrificed in favor of control. Those are two extreme examples, but aren’t the extreme examples what get advocates for change riled up in the first place?

Japan has almost eliminated gun-related homicides by outlawing everything except shotguns and air rifles. Maybe we should do that, forbid people to get their hands on guns, especially handguns and close down most of the 50,812 retail gun dealers (209,750 jobs) held by Americans in the firearm industry.

But this issue isn’t simple stats. It’s about the principle of freedom, and the risk-reward of making weapons available to citizens. It sounds cold and heartless to say something to the effect of needing to take the good with the bad but if we look to the government rather than to ourselves, we will continually have federal blankets that suffocate our freedoms. When we collectively favor government control over self-responsibility and self-management we lose.

A by-product of freedom, is freedom, and the results are some of the most awful, excruciatingly painful aspects of being an American. It takes a toll on all of us, especially those whom are directly impacted.

And yes, someone (individuals) must do something (be responsible) in order for liberty to survive.

You have my promise.

Jeff Lund
Teacher/Freelance Writer
Columnist – Manteca Bulletin
Manteca, California
website –

Easy Shotgun Cleaning with Hoppe’s Boresnake

I was kicking around the cabin with Outdoor Life blogger Brian Lynn on a recent hunting trip to Mar Don Resort and Brian was chatting and cleaning his shotgun at the same time. He had just met up with us after hunting honkers in Tri-Cities, Washington and his gun was a mess from the light, powdery soil they have in that neck of the woods.

After wiping down the outside of the gun he unraveled a long contraption called a Boresnake to clean the bore. I fully expected the usual brush/swab treatment on the bore but this new dealio immediately caught my attention.

Brian pulled what looked like a rope with a brush on it thru the bore and whammy-bammo it was instantly clean as a whistle. It was the quickest I had ever seen anyone ever clean a shotgun bore and actually get it clean.  What a slick gizmo!

All you have to do is douse it with a little lubricating oil and pull it thru the bore with the attached tether. It should clean the bore entirely on the first pass, but if you need to hit it again it takes just a second to run it back thru again.

Hoppe’s Boresnake is available for just about any rifle caliber, most pistol calibers, and most shotguns. With Christmas coming this is another great Christmas gift idea for the hunter in your life. Hint, hint!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle


Sunglasses You Can Hide Behind

If you’re looking for a Chistmas gift for the sportsman in your life or just want some super cool shades look no further than Costa’s new lineup of polarized sunglasses in AP Realtree camo.

Costa’s camo series is available in their popular Fantail, Blackfin, Double Haul, and Zane frames and of course you can also get them with uber-schwanky 580P glass lenses for the ultimate in color enhancement and glare reduction.

Costa’s 580P glass allows maximum depth perception and light transmission in the early morning and late afternoon when animals and fish are most active and these lenses provide maximum glare reduction.

I know this firsthand because I wear them nearly every day on the ocean in Alaska and when I’m river fishing in Washington where it seems like we have “low light” conditions more often than not. Even on those rainy, drizzly days we’re famous for here in the Pacific Northwest it’s surprising how much glare is cast off the water.

Now I’m all fired up to try the new Costa Realtree camo shades in the duck blind and in the fern-choked blacktail woods of Washington. If they can give me even the slightest edge detecting an elusive blacktail buck in the early morning darkness I’m all over it.

If you haven’t done it already click on over to Costa AP Realtree Camo and snoop around. You can bet these sweet shades will be on my Christmas list!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle


Dog Blog

It was a journey to get through the passing of our last dog. “Jesse” was a family member in every sense of the word and putting her down was one of the toughest days in my life.

There is only one cure for the passing of an old friend.

Meet Bailey the bad dog…

Well, maybe not all bad....

I won’t bore you with too many details but suffice it to say that I’m a dog person and I grew up bird hunting with family and friends. For most of my life I’ve owned dogs and had a hand -at the least- in their training. For the outdoorsman, there is little more satisfying than training a willing pup, watching their development into adulthood and sharing in their first hunt, their first experiences with live birds.

Since we started The Outdoor Line, it became apparent to us that we’ve got an unprecedented opportunity with this pup, to bring a variety of training experts and gun dog writers in on the project in hopes of producing a solid hunting companion and sharing Bailey’s progress in words and pictures here.

I’m a fan and devotee of Richard Wolters excellent book “Game Dog” and if you’re familiar with the work, you’ll see much that is familiar here. The “dividing line” between the basic commands (Sit, Stay & Come) and more advanced work (Heel, hand signals and blind retrieves) is generally considered to be 20 weeks in most working or in this case retrieving breeds.

The retrieving dummy (what I'm holding, not me...) is to be used only for training. Chew toys, squeeks and bones are fine but unless you like your birds shredded, Don't play tug-of-war with the training dummy. The dummy is for serious (but not too serious) business.

Keeping the pup’s enthusiasm is key! When they stop sprinting to the retrieve, stop, praise and retreat!

Keep it playful and tease your pupil to pique their interest. Avoid burnout at all costs! Ten minute sessions a couple of times a day is plenty!


Ideally, you want to see the pup goin' all out after a retrieve but settle for cheerful completion. Every pup is an individual and if you switch training locations, do not be surprised if you have to start from ground zero. Playing fetch in the backyard when it's just the two of you is a different ballgame that going to a public park with distractions. Patience and encouragement is the key!

A sight to warm the heart of any prospective trainer... Your pup trotting back with a mouthful of training dummy!

Encourage, clap, cajole... anything to communicate that bringing that dummy back to you is the best idea since sliced bread!

Praise is the name of the game! Make a huge fuss when pup delivers to your hand. It's just what you want, unless you enjoy chasing winged birds that sprint as soon as the dog lets them go short of your grasp...

The successful backyard retrieve is an important building block to training the well-behaved retriever. No one wants to share a day afield with a dog that thinks he is the boss and requires “training” during the hunt.

In this blog series, we’ll introduce Bailey to water, hand signals, blind and double blind retrieves and eventually live birds. I hope you’ll follow our progress as trainer,… and trainee.

Tom Nelson The Outdoor Line 710 ESPN Seattle


Budweiser, RMEF Remind Hunters of Safety Responsibilities

MISSOULA, Mont.-With hunting seasons nearing, Budweiser and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation-two longtime partners in wildlife conservation and responsible outdoor recreation-are reminding hunters of three fundamental rules for safe gun handling:

1. Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction
This is the most basic rule of firearm safety. Never allow a gun to point toward people or anything you do not intend to shoot. Whether you are loading or unloading, carrying or cleaning, inspecting a scope or dry firing, no injuries or damage can occur if the gun is pointed in a safe direction. The safe direction may be up, down or to one side-and may change frequently-depending on the situation. Remain vigilant at all times.

2. Keep your finger off the trigger
Always treat guns as if they're loaded and never touch the trigger until you're ready to fire. Do not rely on a gun's safety to prevent it from firing and do not handle a gun carelessly simply because the safety is on. A safety is a mechanical device that could malfunction, so consider it merely a supplement to safe gun handling. Until you're ready to shoot, rest your finger on the trigger guard or along the side of the gun.

3. Unload your firearm when not in use
Firearms should only be loaded when you are ready to shoot, whether you're in the field or at the shooting range. Once it's loaded, don't lean a gun against anything, as it could fall with enough force to discharge. Also never cross a fence, climb a tree, get into a blind or perform any physically awkward action with a loaded gun. Unload your gun as soon as you are finished shooting. Keep your gun's action open when not in use.

Along with these fundamentals, safe hunters have many other considerations. Make sure of your target and what is beyond. Know basic operation and safe handling characteristics of a firearm before you pick it up, or get help from someone who does. Ensure all guns around you are unloaded and safe. Properly maintain and clean firearms. Use correct ammunition. Wear appropriate eye and ear protection. Store guns securely. And always use common sense.

Hunters should never drink alcohol or use over-the-counter, prescription or other drugs before or during the hunt.

"Many hunters enjoy relaxing with a beer back at the cabin or around a campfire with friends after the hunt," said Bob Fishbeck, senior manager, Budweiser Brands. "It's a great way to celebrate the day."

Budweiser has been the official beer of RMEF for over 23 years.

Since 1999, the "Help Budweiser Conserve the Outdoors" program, along with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and RMEF members, has raised more than $1.1 million for conservation and education.

David Allen, RMEF president and CEO, said, "Budweiser continues to be a true friend to hunters and conservationists, and is one of RMEF's longest standing and most valuable partners. The company's dedication to our mission began in 1988 with a major gift for our first-ever permanent land protection project, and it continues today with sponsorship and support on many levels throughout our organization."

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Snowy peaks, dark timber basins and grassy meadows. RMEF is leading an elk country initiative that has conserved or enhanced habitat on over 5.9 million acres-a land area equivalent to a swath three miles wide and stretching along the entire Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. RMEF also works to open, secure and improve public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation. Get involved at or 800-CALL ELK.

Secure your outdoor gear in a Truck Vault

It happens every time I leave my truck somewhere. Whether I'm off on a fishing or hunting adventure every time I walk away from my truck I'm thinking, "Is today the day that my truck gets broken into?"

Unfortunatley vehicle vandalism and theft is on the rise here in Washington and vehicles parked in obscure locations, where most anglers and hunters spend time, are an easy target for car-prowling knuckleheads. I've been the victim of the smash'n-grab vehicle break-in on two seperate occasions and outside of the obvious loss of belongings it can cut an outdoor adventure short in a hurry. 

I'd like to introduce you to the Truck Vault, the ultimate vehicle accessory to keep your fishing, hunting, skiing, mountain climbing, and work gear safe and secure while you're out in the field. Leaving your vehicle in a remote location is a lot easier when you're gear is safely secured in one of these babies. I just got one myself and know the feeling!

I just went on a turkey hunting trip to Eastern Washington and locked up my shotgun, ammunition, camo, gun cleaning kit, camera gear, and hunting boots in the Truck Vault. Outside of the security factor it's also a great way to organize your gear and get it out of the cab of the truck or SUV. When I'm bouncing around on back country roads the gear stays in one place in the vault instead of all over the cab of my Chevy.

Dirty hunting boots can now go in the vault instead of inside my truck. This particular one is the all-weather model and they also make a carpeted version for vehicles with canopies. They make them for all kinds of trucks, SUV's, and even sedans. Vault accessories include power invertors, interior lights, kennels, foam gun inserts, and much more. 

We're planning on getting a puppy in the fall and when we do I'll get the Truck Vault kennel that locks into the tie down strips that come standard with every fault. The lid of the vault can hold up to 2,000 pounds, so a four wheeler and all the large items for hunting or fishing camp can be loaded right on top of the vault without any worries.     

All of my Hunting Gear Loaded in the Truck Vault
Every once in a while a great new product comes along that makes the lives of outdoorsman a little easier. The Truck Vault is one of those products and I'll be using mine for as long as I'm in the field. Thanks for visiting the Outdoor Line and please feel free to pass this along to friends!
Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

Federal Premium Produces 25 Millionth Shotgun Shell Benefitting PF

ANOKA, Minn. – January 27, 2011 – Federal Premium® Ammunition recently produced the 25 millionth shotgun shell that gives money directly to Pheasants Forever. PF CEO and President Howard Vincent recognized this milestone at the 2011 SHOT Show by presenting a commemorative plaque to Federal Premium President Ron Johnson. This staggering number of Premium loads has given money directly to PF since the on-box royalty program began in 1998.

Increasing Contributions
Pheasants Forever formed its first chapter in 1983 and Federal Premium has been involved with the organization from the beginning. Over the years PF and Federal Premium have expanded their partnership and contributions to wildlife.

This year Federal introduces an entirely new line that will give money to PF through the on-box royalty program. Prairie Storm™ FS Steel® will hit store shelves in both 12 and 20-gauge options this summer. Every box sold will give money to PF. In the first 10 years of the royalty program Federal made 15 million specially marked pheasant loads. In less than three years since that last milestone, Federal has produced 10 million more.

Proud of the Partnership
"At Federal Premium, conservation is very important to us as a company, and as hunters," said Ammunition Brand Director Rick Stoeckel. "And our partnership with Pheasants Forever has been great. We're happy we've been able to work with and support such a tremendous organization that does so much and gives back in so many ways. The combined success we've shared has been a great story so far, and it will only get better."

"When we say hunters are the nation's leading conservationists, Federal Premium Ammunition takes that to heart," said Howard Vincent, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever's National President and CEO, "The number one way we preserve our pheasant hunting tradition in this country is by preserving pheasant habitat, and Federal Premium knows that."

To learn more about Wing-Shok® or Prairie Storm loads that give money directly to PF, or to see the entire Federal lineup, go to