By Kahryn Ragsdale
Outdoor University was a fun-filled, crazy day. And for me, something happened that I wasn’t exactly expecting.
It all started the day before. I had overheard some chatter about a delivery of pheasants to use in the game cleaning demonstration and also some bobwhite quails that we were going to be releasing into the prairie. I love animals, so I was looking forward to seeing these cute birds and had hopes of maybe holding a quail.
Once the van arrived with the birds, I was eager to help bring them to The Outdoor Campus building. Unfortunately, I missed the quail release, but saw a few roaming our nature playscape. It was pretty exciting; I had never seen a bobwhite quail before. After they were released, I accepted that I probably wouldn’t see them again.
Then the big day arrived. The first part of my morning was spent driving a shuttle van between The Outdoor Campus building and the area the volunteers were parking in. The van I drove was unlike anything I have driven before. This van was huge. It was so big that when I hopped into it, I was greeted by a warning on the dashboard: “Warning! Watch out for low clearance. This van is 7 feet 3 inches tall.”
After being relieved from shuttle duty, I drove a Gator around and made sure each station had everything they needed. As the day went on, I started to hear people saying they saw some quails walking around on the trails and on the edge of the prairie. But I didn’t think much of it.
Later in the day I needed to grab something in the Back 40, our building’s storage area. After running around the event for hours, going for a last minute bait run and delivering some supplies to other stations, I came face to face with a quail.
I didn’t know what to do. A feeble attempt to chase him out only managed to chase him under all the shelves instead. Giving up, I headed back out to the event, calling up Ashleigh to tell her about the quail. We then got a little team gathered, consisting of Ashleigh, Derek, Shelly and me.
We went on a wild quail chase.
We almost caught it many times. Eventually, laying on the ground underneath the workbench, searching for the small bird, I sighted him and had Derek chase him towards me. I knew if I moved it would cause the quail to move farther away from me. So as Derek coaxed him to move towards me, I held perfectly still, with my hand held up, getting ready to snatch him. The quail moved towards me and walked right under my trap, and I sprang. The trap worked perfectly. I then came out from all the dust and junk holding this quail. I was super excited.
I got my wish; I got to hold a quail.