In re quail query:
After several days of analyzing the news from the Kremlin, Eric Sevareid of CBS cleared his throat one night last week and took up another topic, one which also was occupying the thoughts of the President of the United States.
The topic was quail, which the President was pursuing on the 10,000-acre plantation of the Secretary of the Treasury, George M. Humphrey, near Thomasville, Ga. Sevareid's was an analysis tinged with the flavor of a sweet-sour grape because the quail season in Virginia, where he does his hunting, is over. He paid tribute, nevertheless, to the quail—"a bird of character, a noble bird."
"It has dignity," he said, "and settled habits. You can depend upon the quail, except that sometimes it will flush at your feet with a paralyzing roar of wings. The quail is a monogamous bird. This is a pity, for otherwise, presumably, there would be more quail, for presidents and commoners; but it means you can shoot cock or hen, indiscriminately, which is a good thing because they are too fast and too much alike to differentiate, anyway.
"I must say today's dispatches from Georgia are distressingly incomplete. We know the President is using a 20-gauge double gun. This is the mark of a true uncountry quail man. The 20 has plenty of power and pattern for quail. It is light and short, for quick swinging in briar patch and woods, where the canny quail is bound to lead the President a scratchy and exciting chase. But there the dispatches leave off; not a word about whether the President is a snap shooter or takes his time and is content with one bird per flush; not a line on whether he works around between covey and woods to try the tricky overhead shots; not a word as to whether he uses the swing-through system or the pointing-out system when he pulls the trigger.
"Well, the White House correspondents under Truman weren't required to study Chopin, so I suppose we can't force them to take up upland gunnery. Still, it would be a help. A million fellow sufferers like myself are getting edgy waiting to find out if the President uses No. 8 shot or 9, high speed or standard, an improved cylinder with a modified barrel, or a modified with a full."
For Sevareid and his million fellow sufferers here are the answers:
Ike is good at the snap shot but he is not ordinarily a snap shooter. He follows the bird and shoots at about 30 yards. He is quite content with one bird per covey and, in fact, one of the conservation rules followed at Secretary Humphrey's plantation requires that no more than three birds be killed from any covey. Thus the covey remains intact and can be hunted again.
"I like to find the singles," the President says. "Coveys scare me."
He is not one of shooting's bored experts, so he does not "work around between covey and woods to try the tricky overhead shots." On the other hand he has been seen to make the shot and do it well.