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Quail Hunting in South Carolina

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by harleypilot, Mar 21, 2012.

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  1. harleypilot

    harleypilot TS Member

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    I have retired and moved to South Carolina from Iowa. Max, my yellow lab and I hunted pheasants in Iowa, but now we are looking forward to hunting quail down south.

    Iowa used to be great for pheasant hunting but now pheasants are pretty scarce, so Max and I have gone to private preserves once or twice a year just so he can work a lot of birds.
    I have always read how great quail hunting is in the south. I am hoping it is not like pheasants in Iowa which have become scarce.

    I live in Rock Hill, so can anyone tell me where there are good places to take Max quail hunting next fall, or will I have to find a plantation and pay to hunt like I did in Iowa?

    Thanks,
    Jim
  2. claybrdr

    claybrdr Active Member

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    Very few wild birds left in the South. Labs are certainly not quail dogs by any stretch unless you like premature flushes of what few birds you will ever find.

    I grew up with setters and pointers and decided 20 years ago that it no longer made sense to keep them after 50 some years of never being without one or the other.
  3. Dickgshot

    Dickgshot Active Member

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    Claybrdr

    according to your post you're 90 years old! Sounds like you're doing pretty well
    for a guy that old.
  4. claybrdr

    claybrdr Active Member

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    Only 73 but grew up in the country on a farm and my Dad was a bird hunter and raised bird dogs. My first memories and childhood pictures were of me and Zeke, an English setter and Joe, a pointer. I finally gave my last 2 dogs away to a friend in the country because of lack of birds and concern over my neighbors now that I am a city boy. They loved to bark at just about anything while penned in their run.
  5. shaggist

    shaggist Member

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    Quail hunting in the South is a pale shadow of what it was in the '60s. The loss of habitat to urbanization, loss of food sources and protective cover to more intensive farming methods, proliferation of such predators as raccoons, opossums, foxes, coyotes, raptors, and feral cats, have all led to the demise of the wonderful quail hunting of my youth.

    If you want to hunt wild quail these days, you must own and correctly manage your old family farm, or be best buddies with someone who does. Otherwise, you must book a hunt on one of the plantations that still offer hunting, primarily raised birds, not wild, and such a hunt will cost you some strong dollars.

    I can't think of any part of my early years that I miss so much as quail hunting with my Granddad, behind his pointers and setters, on land he leased from the owners, who lived on the property, and farmed it on a daily basis. He paid them to plant lespedeza, leave an unplowed margin around each field, kill every predator they saw, and reserve the hunting exclusively for him. On an average day, we could, not hunting hard, put up 15 coveys and never bother with the singles. We NEVER took more than our limit, and never more than 4 birds per covey. This was quail hunting that can only be dreamed about today.

    I am older now than he was when we hunted together, and not a day goes by that I don't miss him so badly it hurts. One poignant memory is our country hunting lunch. We would go the country general store that served the occupants of that rural community, get hoop cheese, big soda crackers, vienna sausages, sardines, and a 'big ole orange drink' for me, and sit on the front porch, eating, and talking about the morning and where we would try in the afternoon. Those were times I shall never see again, BUT I have the memories of those times, which so many youngsters there days will never know.
    'Old Times There Are Not Forgotten'.

    Jack Young
  6. MR870

    MR870 Member

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    Harleypilot,you can try Rick Hemingway down in Georgetown SC.He owns Backwoods Sporting Clays but does the deer hunts and bird hunts.The Clinton House also does bird hunts in Clinton SC.I hate to say it but quail hunts are not like they use to be in Carolina where I was raised,in Abbeville County.My grand daddy was a world class bird hunter.I used to go hunting and was taught early on to shoot two birds and move on to the next covey.Unfortuanately some dumbass will shoot every bird in the covey and leave nothing for future hunts.And with the decrese in farmland planting,coyotes,and other factors the quail hunting is on the lower end.Thats why most bird hunters I know shoot more clays now.You do have a great shooting facility called Rock Creek Sporting in your area run by Chuck Frasier one of the best target setters in the sporting industry.Rocky Knoll is in Abbeville SC if interested.They are on line.
  7. claybrdr

    claybrdr Active Member

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    Jack, my experiences mirror yours except it was on our family land and with my Dad. We never hunted down the singles or shot a covey below 8-10 birds.
  8. jrw136

    jrw136 TS Member

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    You are not only in the wrong part of the state but about 50-60 years too late. Being from the low country and growing up in the 50’s we could stomp through briers, swamp water and the like and come home with enough for a good eating. Since that time, besides everything being leased for Deer hunting, land use practices as well as other conditions have change much to the determent of Mr. Bobwhite. There does seem however, with the recent rise in more natural Nature friendly trends, a resurgence of assistance for his well being. Maybe we should start giving away some of Havilah Babcock’s books and get a movement started.
  9. birdogs

    birdogs TS Member

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    Jack Young,

    What wonderful memories. Do you remember the names of any of your Granddad's dogs'? The reason I ask is that dogs live such short lives and there are so many of them over a lifetime that they are often forgotten. I occasionally sit back and try to think about each of my dogs and a hunting experience I shared with each of them. After all, they always gave their all every day we hunted. I owe them the gratitude of thinking back to those times we shared. God, how many days, how many birds, how many dogs? Each one was special, even in memory.
  10. Doug Brown

    Doug Brown Active Member

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    Of all the hunting I've done, shooting quail over a pointing dog is still the most fun. For nearly two decades we shot lots of them (along with pheasants) in SE Nebraska, even though we're on the Northern fringe of the bobwhite. We had average dogs that were hunted hard & became super dogs. It's all but over here- $6 corn, leads to no one planting milo, loss of habitat, etc. Nowdays I sit my a$$ in a duck blind with an exceptional lab, thinking of those days, dogs, & hunting partners.
  11. bluedsteel

    bluedsteel Member

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    I grew up and live in North Carolina, and I can't remember the last time I heard a bobwhite whistle. Very sad. But some great memories.

    bluedsteel
  12. shaggist

    shaggist Member

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    For all of you whose memories were stirred by my recitation of one of the better parts of my younger years, keep in mind that you had the absolute best of the bird hunting scene in the South, and especially North and South Carolina, which I firmly believe equalled or surpassed any other hunting venue any where in the United States. The times, the land, the birds, the dogs, and the people, men and women, who took part in this pasttime, melded into the most phenomenal set of experiences to be had during the course of my life. I feel as if God blessed me especially to have allowed me to partake in such a glorious outdoor endeavor, that brought such joy to me and many others who were also as lucky as I. For those of you who lived during this period of time, you can understand what I am trying to impart here. For those who didn't experience the joy of quail hunting in the South, I can only offer my condolences for your loss. Take care, all.

    Jack Young
  13. FRedmon

    FRedmon Active Member

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    bluedsteel - we hear them at the Rockingham Gun Club....

    FRedmon
  14. harleypilot

    harleypilot TS Member

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    Thank you all for your responses. I always read about hunting quail in the South when I was a kid. I am really sorry I missed out on it.

    The big thrill for me hasn't really been the hunting, but watching my dog Max work the pheasants, and retrieve them.

    I guess I will take him to one of the plantations next fall so he can do what he was born to do at least once or twice a year.

    Jim
  15. Shooting Jack

    Shooting Jack Active Member

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    Jim, here in South Georgia the quail are making a comeback but it is very slow. I have deer feeders at my hunting club and have one or two coveys coming to each feeder. I was taught that the downfall of the quail here began with the chemicals that were sprayed on the soy beans. The mature birds would eat the bugs and then would either not produce eggs or they were not fertile. I live in a small town and can sit in my back yard and call up quail during their mating season. Love to hear them. A lot of good memories. My uncle had some of the best dogs and remember him selling one in 1961 for $1000.00 to a Northerner that came down to hunt and heard about his dogs. From age nine till I went in the Air Force I was his dog handler(I walked with the dogs LOL). Boy did I had those bramble briers though. Jackie B.
  16. birdogs

    birdogs TS Member

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    It is all about habitat. I have been working on creating upland habitat out of 1100 acres of seriously neglected woodland. It had reverted to a tangle of sick and stunted hardwoods. After more than 8 years of cutting, planting and burning we still don't have everything we need to support a robust Quail population. Moeover, the best we can hope for is to create an island of suitable habitat in the midst of a sea of neglected woodlands. To restore Quail populations, this activity needs to be carried out at a "landscape" level. 1100 acres is simply not large enough to make a real difference - but it is a start and our contribution to Gentleman Bob.
  17. wolfram

    wolfram Well-Known Member

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    I hunt the Gambles or valley quail here in NV and the numbers are good but as mentioned above it is all about habitat and water. The habitat exists in abundance because much of the state is public land and not useful for agriculture. So what I look for is brushy little canyons that have a little trickle in them.

    No doubt this is a lot different than what you have in the east. What is probably not different is that Labradors do make very good quail dogs and I have had very good results with the yellow dogs that I have had. Granted the pointers do have a nose up on the labs but the lab will tear apart a brush pile if you ask him to....all heart.
  18. shaggist

    shaggist Member

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    birdogs,
    I applaude your efforts in trying to rebuil a proper place for the quail to live and reproduce. I know it seems like a never-ending project, but such a labor of love will not go unrewarded.

    What do you do about predators? We have so many more today than 50 years ago, and it was bad enough then. My Granddad and my stepfather used to organize predator hunts in late summer and early fall, to thin out the feral cats, raccoons, opossums, and foxes. Just one of the above named could wipe out a covey a week by hunting them at night when they are gathered in a circle, heads out, trying to sleep. Now, with the addition of coyotes, and the resurgence in raptors, the quail has to contend with even more than before.

    Both my Granddad and stepfather believed strongly in having a good crop of lespedeza available as a primary food source for the birds, and I haven't heard anyone say anything about a better diet. What do y'all do for their food?

    I would be interested in hearing more about your project and how it has effected the local bird population.

    Jack Young
  19. birdogs

    birdogs TS Member

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    Jack Young,

    The property is enrolled in the Federal Forest Stewardship Program. More to the point, we entered into a couple of contracts with the Natural Resource Conservation Service, a Division within the US Department of Agriculture. They have a program called Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP). This program will cost share a significant variety of habitat improvement projects.

    The specific problem we have is that our property is located in a highly regulated area know as the New Jersey Pinelands. This severely restricts what property work we can do. We must get approval of a 10 year forestry plan before we can engage in any forestry work. This can be time consuming and fairly expensive. We have an excellent professional forester who guides us in our land management actvities as well as through the labyrinth of regulations.

    About 10 years ago, we started by clear cuttingh 2 areas of about 10 acres each. We left a stand of trees between them and then cleared a couple of additional fields again leaving woods between the clearings. We thinned these woods and burned the clearings. Soon the clearings started to regenerate in pine which was exactly what we wanted.

    When the pines got to be a couple of feet high, we used a bullhog (a tracked machine with a Fecon forest mulcher)to create 30' to 50' wide lanes through the pines. The bullhog cut and mulched the young pines as well as ground the stumps. The last step was to plant warm-season grasses in the now open areas between the pine rows. We now burn these grasses every 2 years to maintain these areas. At the same time, we have continued to thin more and more of the forest.

    Due to a huge die off of oaks from a gypsy moth infestation, we wound up having to remove hundreds (maybe more)of dead oaks. This created more natural forest openings. We immediately planted them in warm-season grasses as well. These grasses take about 2 years to really show but they are excellent notn only for habitat but also in providing fuel for future burning.

    We are now planting food crops in the fields alongside the warm-season grasses to round out the habitat requirements of food, shelter, loafing areas.

    As far as predators are concerned, we have our hands tied due to the restriction of our fish and wildlife laws. We will engage a trapper to try to handle raccoons and such but avian predators get a free lunch.

    We have been very successful in restoring a population of Pineated (Red-headed) Woodpeckers to the property. Although a threatened specie, they are almost common on our property. A person from the Audobon Society, a group with whom we have done some work, has conducted a survey and identified about 30 speciesm if songbirds taking advantage of the new habitat.

    This is a lot of work and requires a real dedication. Personally, I don't consider it work in the typical sense not when you get to hunt trough the mixed mature and early successional habitats. We have so changed this once-neglected piece of woods that the former owner cannot recognize it. He doesn not believe that we could have done so much so quickly. There are places on this property that if you turned around quickly and I told you that you were in South Carolina or Georgia, you would believe it. That is my reward.
  20. Bird30

    Bird30 TS Member

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    You Guy's almost bring tears to my eye's thinking about my young days when my Uncle and me Quail hunted. We always had pointers and it was no problem to get our limit any day that we hunted. We would never kill out a covey and there was plenty of birds. There was so many birds that in the evening I would set in a chair (when I was 11 years old) in our back yard and whistle Quail up and shoot their heads off with a 22 rifle for my Mother. She could really fix fried quail. mashed potatoes and gravy. I will never forget those days. Thanks for the memories.

    Dave
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