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Hunting Mr. Bob White


I was not fortunate enough to grow up or live in the grand ole days of southern bob white hunting. In the thirty years plus that I have spent in the outdoors, I can count on both hands the number of wild covey’s of quail I have flushed. Mostly accidentally, actually, all were accidentally and I can say that I have never fired a shot at a wild bob white quail. However that does not diminish my lust, and desire to hunt behind pointing and flushing dogs for this grand game bird.

Now that quail season has opened in virtually every state of the south, I admire those who keep dogs and still spend hours traipsing through the countryside in pursuit of this formidable game bird. While my experiences have been relegated to shooting preserves, I can only imagine the joy of flushing wild birds in the southern tradition.

For those that still pursue these birds, the counties that are still largely agrarian, with large farm fields that provide the edge cover these birds require. Many reasons can be attributed to the demise of the bob white. From urban sprawl, to changes in farming practices, to predation by many sources, the bob white has diminished in the wild.

Solid Point by well trained pointers makes the hunt exciting

This leads me to the one area I know for sure that quail can be shot and shot with a lot of fun and excitement. Shooting preserves have been a popular attraction for decades. And while some will extol that “it isn’t the same as shooting wild birds.” I for one can attest that I know no difference.

The recent annual conference of the South Carolina Outdoor Press Association (SCOPe) was held at The Clinton House plantation in Clinton, SC. This sportsman’s club is well known in the midlands and upstate of South Carolina as being one of the premier locations for those looking to shoot quail, pheasants and chucker.  Mike Johnson, the head guide at The Clinton House provides excellent pointing and flushing dogs and well flying birds for his customers.

During one quail hunt I was literally amazed at how well the birds flew. The birds held tight, and flew fast, flushing  in all directions to the waiting gunners. Pointers found the birds and held statue still poses while the ever present Tilly, Johnson’s beloved Boykin spaniel was sent in to flush the birds from the sorghum cover. At the shot, dogs retrieved killed birds while others were marked for hunting the singles later.

The author with a hand full of bob white

I am not the best of wing shot that ever plodded through the fields and dales of the midlands, but I normally hold my own with my companions. This was not one of those days. I was given many opportunities to shoot at right crosses and left crosses. I shot at high birds and flat flying going away birds that continued to fly away only to be hunted and shot by others later in the day. I did bag a few, and I mean very few considering the number of empty shells that littered my game bag. However the excitement of the flush, the flutter of wing beats and the “let’s get out of here” flight of the bob white was not missed due to the preserve setting.

To top it all off, we were offered the opportunity to shoot pheasants and chucker while on this hunt. I have to admit I am partial to the chucker. This football sized bird takes flight fast and ‘get’s out of dodge’ as fast as any bird I have ever hunted. (Except for perhaps the woodcock)

Just as I have never had the opportunity to hunt wild quail, I also have never hunted wild pheasants or chucker. But the opportunity to hunt them an hour from my home make the opportunity appealing and enjoyable.

Seeing excellent dog work, beautiful upland settings and filling a game bag with delicious fowl is a great way to spend a day. If you have the opportunity to hunt one of the preserves that dot our state or others, I for one can say, it is well worth your time and investment to spend the day hunting Mr. Bob.