The following is an excerpt from “Llamapalooza,” written by Bob St. Pierre. This will be featured in the upcoming 2022 Fall Quail Forever Journal of Conservation.
“The next morning found a group consisting of five humans, four bird dogs, and five llamas leaving a Forest Service parking lot for a hiking trail wide enough for one member of our party of fourteen at a time.
Led by our llama wrangler Chris Dunn of Arizona Llama Adventures, we started our parade. Chris, llama, llama, Wade, bird dog Oakley, Matt, bird dog Libby, llama, and so on. The llamas wore panniers carrying water, food, camping supplies, more water, dog food, cookware, assorted hunting gear, more water, and llama food. On the back of each hunter was strapped an ALPS Mountaineering pack filled with clothes, TP, shotguns, tents, air mattresses, and sleeping bags. We were an Instagram-worthy spectacle, but the philosophy of leaving all the hunting pressure four miles in our dust was logical.
And since you’re wondering, I was never spit on by a llama during the two days spent in their company. To tell you the truth, I was surprised by how little personality the llamas showed toward me, toward their owner Chris, or toward the other llamas. As long as our bird dogs stayed out from under their feet, the llama contingent was mild-mannered and low maintenance.
And thanks to the llama’s hauling capacity, we made only one trip two miles up a canyon before reaching the peak that would mark our descent into untouched Mearns’ country. As we reached the crest to reveal the valley below, the words of the character “Hannibal” from the ‘80s television show “The A-Team” echoed in my head, “I love it when a plan comes together.” Stretched out below us was a two-mile path leading to a flat bench where a campfire would watch the setting sun. A public land Mearns’ quail paradise was ours and ours alone.
Always Follow the Dog
If you’ve ever listened to PF & QF’s On the Wing podcast, you know I end every episode with a final thought: “Always follow the dog. Something good will rise.” That thought certainly has an application any bird hunter should understand about trusting their dog’s nose. However, there is a double entendre intended. Through snow. From border-to-border. Up canyons. Over the desert. Every life adventure is better behind a bird dog, so let them lead the way. Always follow the dog. Something good will rise. Something good always rises!”
Podcast Ep. 153: Backcountry Quail Hunting and Camping with Llamas Part 1 of 2!
Podcast Ep. 154: Backcountry Quail Hunting and Camping with Llamas Part 2 of 2!