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"Just about every time I look for them I find them," I said. "My wife and I saw about 50 on a hike yesterday afternoon."
"Sure. They're here." "One more time now. You're saying that if we came up there, we could both maybe get us two mature birds? We'd pay you for it, believe me."
"I wouldn't want any pay. I'd do it as a favor."
"I never met a serious bird hunter I couldn't get along with," I said. "You could probably get them."
After five or 10 more minutes, Kimbrough seemed almost convinced. I answered his mountain-quail questions as best I could. I told him the hard parts—about how the birds run uphill faster than any human can follow, about how they sometimes sit in tight, impenetrable cover, impossible to flush out no matter how many yelping dogs circle their thicket or berry patch, no matter how many sticks and stones you toss into the tangled branches. I also told him I knew of a few places where, with luck, it was possible to flush the coveys and break them up, after which the singles sat tightly to a good, staunch pointing dog. Even then it was a lot of work to get them, though, because mountain quail always live in steep, rough country. Just to get there, you have to be willing to work. It's assuredly no sport for the folksy bourbon drinkers of Southern quail-hunting lore.
"I think we might be in good enough shape," Kimbrough said. "We want them bad. But the thing is, are you serious about all this? We've been lied to a lot."
"I never saw a picture of a mountain quail before I read your article, and I've never talked to anybody who actually hunts them. Who actually gets them? The closest I came was in northern California. We heard about a rancher there who shot one with a deer rifle once."