Every season many quail are lost because a hunter fails to follow-up. A few important things to remember regarding wounded quail:
When hunting without a dog and a bird is knocked down, keep your eye right on that spot and do not immediately move towards it. Study where it went down and look for a dead piece of cactus, a different rock formation or color, or something that stands out to you, and also don’t shoot at another bird during that time. Having kept your eye on the spot and identifying a landmark will give you the confidence about being in the right spot when you do move in. Then be sure to look over the area well because even when a quail is dead on the ground, they can blend in so well, especially if the area’s vegetation is thick.
Another area that hunters tend to lose crippled birds is not keeping an eye on a bird that feathers are knocked out of and the bird continues to fly as if it’s ok. Again, don’t take your eye off that bird – watch it for as far and as long as possible. There have been times that a bird has been feathered and, even with a dog, I watch closely where they light. They look fine, but when I get to that spot, there’ll be a dead bird.
Another situation is where a bird will fly, sometimes for quite a distance, like it hasn’t been hit, and then drop. The hunter has already decided he’s missed it even though the shot looked good, and moves on. But keep your eye on those birds, and even if you don’t see where it goes down, follow up in that direction, and many times a dog will be able to pick it up.