My father always had one or two hunting dogs when we lived at the house he bought in 1949 at 437 Fairview right next to Speck's trailer court and I loved to play with our weirmeraner Ajax and our brittany Ginger but what I remember best of all is my father getting up early on Saturday mornings back in the mid-1950's and going out with his hunting buddies to spend a day in the fields around Ponca City hunting quail while I would stay at home and watch my favorite tv shows with my neighborhood buddies, Mike Eaton, Jay Holmes, Greg Lukehart, and Tom and Bob Monger. We were the first family on Fairview Street to own a television set and everyone would come over to watch Sky King, Roy Rodgers, and 3-D Danny on "Satellite 4."
One of my interests in Wikipedia has been helping write and maintain the biographies of various well known Oklahomans and this weekend I was doing some work on T. Boone Pickens' article and discovered that my father wasn't the only Pickens who loved quail hunting. Here's a paragraph I added to T. Boone's article:
T. Boone Pickens has been interested in hunting quail and in keeping hunting dogs since he was a boy growing up in Holdenville, Oklahoma where his father always kept two dogs. Pickens bought 2,900 acres of overgrazed pasture near the Canadian River in 1971 and Pickens would drive 100 miles from Amarillo to hunt all day with his hunting buddies. Pickens soon began creating artificial creeks on the property to benefit the quail and other wildlife. "As any experienced quail hunter knows, the best hunting is along creek drainages," says Pickens. "We had some good creek drainages on the ranch, but I got the idea of creating artificial creeks." Pickens created artificial creeks by burying PVC pipe and pumping water through the buried water system where the water bubbled to the surface every 1,000 feet to create waterholes for the quail. Pickens added quail feeders for a winter food supply and placed the feeders in plum thickets for overhead protection from hawks. "The system worked pretty well," Pickens says. "We noticed better hunting wherever we put the water lines. Abundant water creates abundant insects, and insects are important food for quail chicks. Even when it doesn't rain, I think the quail dampen their feathers in the waterhole and return to the nest. Pickens' ranch, called Mesa Vista, has now expanded to 68,000 acres with more than 24 miles of frontage on the Canadian River. "A lot of experienced hunters have said that Mesa Vista is the world's best quail hunting," Pickens said. "I don't know if it's the world's best, but I'm convinced it's the best that my team could make it.
My father Dale Pickens grew up on a farm and he was taught to hunt as a boy growing up in Boswell, Oklahoma from my grandfather, Hugh, who was said to be able to hit a squirrel in the eye with a .22 from a hundred yards. I had a bb gun when I was a child and my friends and I used to go on hiking expeditions north of Ponca City to shoot pop bottles and targets on trees by the railroad tracks but after I was a teenager I never really took much of an interest in hunting and I don't remember going hunting with my father more than a couple of times before I went away to college.
It's been ten years now since he died and I would give anything in the world to spend a day with my father again hunting Bobwhite quail.
Bottom Photo: Dad and I going hunting in 1971.