My first quail of the season came on Halloween last year. Phantom had a covey pointed, but they flushed wild. When that happens, there’s nothing left to do but follow up on the singles.
It didn’t take us long to find them, and in short order a couple quail were in the bag courtesy of some fine Phantom points and an old 870 Wingmaster. Even though it was still early, a weather system threatening moisture was quickly moving in. Satisfied with our pair of quail, we called it quits for the day. Another successful Halloween hunt was in the books.
Over the years, the last day of October has treated me more often than it’s tricked me. Time and time again it’s proven to be one of the more productive days of the fall season.
Quail are frequent victims, but pheasants, ducks and one grouse have also succumbed to my shotgun on this spookiest of days.
In fact, pheasants aren’t far behind quail on my running list of the Halloween hunted. One year I even shot a limit of three roosters (I believe it was opening day). However, ducks are the all-time leader.
I still fondly recall the Halloween, many years ago, when I shot a limit of ducks and my dad finished one bird shy of a limit. Our decoy bags were extra heavy that day from the added weight of all the ducks. Now that’s a real treat!
Speaking of my dad, he’s done pretty well on this unholy holiday himself. According to our records, he’s shot several ducks, a few pheasants and quail and also one grouse on Halloween.
Notably absent from the list are any Canada geese. Hopefully we can rectify that oversight one of these Halloweens. An archery deer would also be nice considering the rut is almost in full swing by late October.
Even when we didn’t bag anything on Halloween, we’ve done pretty well on the days immediately surrounding it. Oct. 30 and Nov. 1 have also been historically high production days for ducks and pheasants over the years.
Still, there’s nothing like bagging a few birds on the actual day itself. Ideally, I’d hunt in the morning, let the birds cool in the garage while I enjoy an afternoon nap with Phantom, and then, with dusk approaching, go out and clean them just before the trick-or-treaters hit the streets.
A pizza supper, followed by copious amounts of candy reserved for my own private consumption, tops off the ending to a perfect day.
Have a safe and happy Halloween, whether you’re hunting or haunting.
Jarrod Spilger writes an outdoor column for The Independent.