It is hard to say exactly what it is that makes friendships develop. There is certainly the bond of common interest. But friendship is more than that. It grows stronger with shared adventure, shared pain, and shared laughter. ?I have a better insight into why you enjoyed those trips to South Georgia,? Ruth said after ?proofing? the chapters for me, but she expressed concern that some of the stories might be too ribald for the grandchildren to read. But I am only relating what was said and done as best I can remember. When I told Paul that I was writing about the trips, he also suggested that I might not want to tell it all. But I did ? all that came to mind anyway. To really understand, you?ve got to know it all. The stories in this book are about the annual quail hunting trips Paul and I made to Early County, Georgia over a period of twelve or so years. More than that, the book is about the friendships that four men developed and the bonds that grew over the years. William and Paul lived in the same dormitory when they were students at Auburn University in the late 1950?s. During that time they began making a yearly trip to quail hunt at William?s family farm just north of Blakely, and after Paul retired from the Marines, they took up the tradition again. In February, 1993 they invited me to join them. You will see from these dates that we were not spring chickens when the hunts occurred. The exception is Toby, the sprightly young grig, who was a friend and neighbor of William. I use ?neighbor? in the rural sense because they were not in hollering distance of each other. I could tell that they had a bond when I met them, and that Toby went to ?choir practice? with William?s older buddies. ?Choir practice? was William?s euphemism for playing poker. I do not think that either had a corrupting influence on the other. They were also fishing and hunting partners, the same as Paul and I. Anyone who loves dogs will understand the special bond that develops between owner and dog, or in my case, it seems, between owner and man. I love my dogs, and, thank God, Ruth does too ? probably more than I do. This story is about them, too. Most of all, the story is about the gentleman himself, Mr. Bob White. I fear that I have not done him justice because he is hard to describe. He is fast, agile, allusive, elusive, evasive, and smart. He is gregarious with his clan and forms a covey that moves like an army and springs into the air simultaneously, each foot seeming to leave the ground at the same millisecond. Covey rises always seem choreographed, and even when you know it is about to happen, it is like a surprise, a startle. The sound of a covey rise is frequently expressed as being like an explosion, or thunder, or eruption, but it is not like that. Actually the sound comes from the wing beats, and the pounding of the feathered appendage against the feathered body. But...you just have to be there. Paul and I live in east central Alabama, the lower Piedmont part of the Appalachian foot hills. Here quail and quail habitat have largely disappeared over the last half century as patch or subsistence farming has drastically declined. Quail do not do well in cow pastures and pine plantations. The opportunity for us to hunt birds in Early County, Georgia was a thrill difficult to over state.