If you’ve never hunted quail out of a 1974 Cadillac Coupe de Ville with a sunroof, you’ve missed out on a sweet adventure.
When I was an oil broker for a major truck stop company in the early 80s, my brother-in-law, Garry Emery, was an insurance broker for a major casualty company. Our days started at about 5 a.m. to work the East Coast and were practically over by 11:30 a.m. By then, everything that could be bought and sold at a profit, or a volume worthy of attention, had been, and, naturally, we needed to celebrate the day’s activity. That required bloody marys, a 1974 Cadillac Coupe de Ville with a sunroof, and Sadie and Lulu Belle. Sadie and Lulu Belle were Garry’s dad’s top-notch English Pointer quail dogs, and he encouraged us to hunt with them as much as possible because that is the best training they could have. So, we did.
We had access to a quail hunting lease. Our lease was located between two plantations. We had quail hanging from the trees. Not really, but you get the drift. We both learned to hunt at daddys’ knee and understood that hunting was a gift not to be abused. We always brought our game home, cleaned it, cooked it and shared it with family and friends. But on this one day, we improvised a little to match the mood.
On that day, after our bloody marys, we headed out for an afternoon hunt and chose an area behind an old church. Sadie and Lulu Belle were in the back seat. They never rode in the trunk or a box. To get behind the church property, we had to enter a narrow dirt rut about 50 yards long, with mounds and bumps all the way. The Cadillac rocked and rolled over the mounds and bumps like a 40-foot Carver in rolling Gulf seas. I asked Garry if he wanted to load up and stand through the sunroof. There was always a covey at the end of the road, and they always flew when we stopped the car. This car weighed 4,600 pounds with a full tank of gas. I know because I weighed it one day at the truck stop.
Garry was in position. I stopped the car, and about 30 or so bobwhites exploded 25 yards to our left. Garry shot three times out of the sunroof and never touched a feather. He fell back into the seat and we both laughed till we cried until we looked in the back seat. Sadie and Lulu Belle had both peed in the seat and were staring at Garry as if to say, “How about a little heads-up next time, buddy?” We hunted the singles for a while before dusk and ended up with nine. The girls did their part and retrieved like champs, and one time gave me a withering look when I missed a double that Sadie pointed right in front of me. We took the quail home to Garry’s mom, Ms. Maxie, and she cooked them that night for Garry’s dad Doyne.
As they say, those were the days. And that’s what hunting dogs and pals do: they make memories. Garry always said we were retired then and too dumb to know it. We were blessed with that time. Garry was a Vietnam vet, 101st Airborne, my brother-in-law and my best friend for 41 years. We lost him in 2017 due to Agent Orange complications. God Bless you, Garry. Thanks for the memories. We shall hunt again.
Paul “Butch” Gibson is a published author, poet, researcher and songwriter, with a gold record and a Grammy nomination (“Wooly Bully”). He lives in Foley with his wife, Melissa, and their two cats that he is trying to teach to point quail.