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Put and Take Quail Hunting



The author with a hand full of bob white

The author with a hand full of bob white

Put and Take Quail Hunting is something that doesn’t sit well with purists. The thought of hunting and shooting pen raised birds just goes against the grain of everything we have been taught about fair chase. Or so it seems.

I have known a handful of men in my life who were what you might call “bird hunters”. Those who trained their dogs to sniff out and point birds with statue like ability. Holding the point as long as necessary for the shooter to arrive and bust the covey. Dogs who were truly steady to shot, and excellent retrievers. But to say I have known a handful is actually an exaggeration. I sit here in my early 50’s and I never remember a time when there was enough quail to hunt. Sure you may bust a covey while squirrel hunting, but you never could find them again if you were to bring a dog back by. They not only scattered, they indeed scattered….far into the neighboring county. Quail hunting for most of my life has been regulated to the put and take variety. Is it sporting? I’ll let you decide. But as Jerry Clower used to say, as I paraphrase from another story; “I give them a sporting chance.” The birds have the chance to escape, and poor shot as I am, many live to be flushed another day. In my estimation, I have shot placed birds that was not very sporting, and I have shot at some that was a fast and furious as wild birds can be at times.

There are some benefits to the put and take quail action of the preserves. First and foremost it keeps a dwindling sport alive. Many a hunter who has never heard or seen the flush of a covey would never get the thrill of hearing and seeing a bevy of quail take flight under the nose of a Setter or Pointer. Secondly, the camaraderie had between friends shooting birds is always a thrill. The sport of hunting and shooting cannot be overstated. When shared with friends, it adds to the memories.

It is a pricy game no doubt. A typical half day hunt consisting of between 30-40 birds will cost a pair of hunters around $350-$600. This is not for the faint of heart. It is expensive, but when shared with another, and the memories made it can be worth it for the occasional outing.

English Pointer Locating a covey of bobwhite quail

English Pointer Locating a covey of bobwhite quail

Fortunately, the Southeast is loaded with very nice hunting facilities that cater to the put and take hunting. One can usually drive an hour or less in any direction and find a suitable location to spend a half day or whole day wandering through pine plantations behind well trained dogs in the companionship of great friends. There are few things that are as enjoyable than spending time with good friends and good dogs while hunting.