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Today is January 22, 2021

Outdoors

A gentleman’s outdoor pursuit

By Tony Kinton

A gentleman’s outdoor pursuit

While an assortment of hunting seasons are now open, the coming of a new year brings notice that these will gradually fade into the past, closing until things start up again next fall. Turkey season is a clear exception; it is a spring affair. But the fall/winter offerings will dwindle with the first two months of 2021. That said, there is little need to fret. There are yet some good days ahead. And some of those good days can be built around a truly grand bird, the Bobwhite quail.

Some hunters will shake their heads at the mention of quail, for these most special of game birds and the makings of a very fine country supper are in short supply. It is no secret that quail across the Southeast have fallen on hard times. This tragic trend began to evidence itself at the beginning of the 20th century and seemed to have reached super-sonic speeds of decline in the 1960s. Much theorizing has gone into why this happened, but habitat changes must surely rise to the top. The countryside is not what it once was.

There are areas that have adequate and expansive blocks of habitat, and these spots still have quail. But for the most part, that lonesome and haunting whistle seldom if ever is heard. Hopes are still high that research and management will rectify the loss, but this remains to be seen.

Still, the idea of a quail hunt is not destined to a faint dream. Such activity is available on preserves, and several are scattered about the state. I have long been a proponent of the preserve and employ such services regularly. The folks operating these are congenial and have modes of transport when needed and maintain kennels filled with eager and perfected dogs. All the hunter must do is show up and enjoy the day.

Preserves come in various forms. There are some with exquisite lodges, housing and meals. These are most grand. Easily worth the cost of admission, but expensive. And there are those that offer a basic hunt, maybe a lunch thrown in. Most often a half-day enterprise. And these latter are likely in easy driving distance of any spot across the state. Costs are certainly reasonable.

Four preserves that I visit each year require no more than two hours of driving, some half that. And while these are not the only ones, I know these and have no hesitation recommending them. They are the following: Bouie Creek Quail Farm and Preserve, Magee; 601-849-4415, 601- 506-1790. Dancing Rabbit Quail Preserve, DeKalb; 662-803-0614. Full Flight Quail Preserve, Collins; fullflighthuntingpreserve.com. And Trout Valley Quail Preserve, Charleston; troutvalleyquail.com.

So as hunting seasons end, don’t neglect a trip to a quail preserve. Doing so will allow you to experience a gentleman’s outdoor pursuit. In memory of Travis Lindsey.

 

Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. He lives in Carthage and is a Central Electric member. Visit www.tonykinton.com for more information.

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