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Wade Free & Sons Enjoy Quail Hunting


Read Full Quail Hunting Story on Page 14 By Gail Banzet Q


uail hunter and Northwestern Electric Cooperative member Wade Free of Sharon, Okla., has been


hunting quail for the past 30 years, and now he is passing the sport down to his two teenage sons.


“The kids started hunting with me when they were eight years old,” he says. Free is passionate about quail hunting and the hard-working bird dogs that join him on every hunt. He says these canine companions are the reason he’s continued hunting all these years.


“Quail hunters enjoy dogs the most,” Free says. “The real sport is about the dogs and their ability to find birds. Killing quail is a bonus on the day.”


Morton_OKLiving_2.13_Layout 1 1/4/13 1:32 PM Page 1


English Pointers, German Shorthaired Pointers, Brittanys and English Setters—Free says watching a bird dog point never gets old, but he admits that quail hunting and all of its expenses including dogs, vet bills, dog food, acres to hunt, gadgets, training and other equipment, make it difficult for younger hunters to break into the sport.


“It’s almost a sport that you have to be in- troduced to by an older person,” he says. “It’s a lot of work and you have to be able to want to walk all day and watch dogs.” In the “heydeys” of quail hunting, Oklahoma hosted nearly 140,000 hunters. Today, Free is one of the last remaining 20,000 who own hunting dogs and partici- pate in the sport every year.


“It’s an alarming trend when you don’t see many young quail hunters anymore, but I’m encouraged by the research and cooperative efforts to promote hunting and strengthen quail numbers,” he says. “There are private clubs and groups such as Quail Forever that are big proponents of quail management. I’m optimistic the sport will survive.” Following his dogs across the countryside in brisk winter air while building camaraderie with fellow hunters and family is a sport Free will never give up. He hopes more members of the younger generation will carry on the sporting tradi- tion.


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