Thursday, November 5, 2015

Shenandoah Plantation Quail Hunt in Black Belt of Alabama

Warm weather quail hunting on horseback in the rolling terrain in the Alabama Black Belt
An upland hunting enthusiast from the Carolinas knows that hunting bobwhite quail is a vibrant thread woven into the fabric of outdoor tradition. The hunt requires pointing dogs and the desire to take a wingshooting challenge every time a quail is flushed. A recent visit to the rolling hills at Shenandoah Plantation revealed a look at a proper horseback hunt for bobwhite quail.
Lots of classic points found in this valley
After a seven hour drive from the Lowcountry, this experience began with an eye popping glance at the Bird Dog Monument in Union Springs, Alabama. This area has been dubbed the Bird Dog Field Trial Capital of the World and a life-sized bronze statue of an English Pointer sits atop an 8-foot granite pillar in the middle of an intersection for maximum viewing.

Arriving at Shenandoah Plantation for an afternoon quail hunt, I was pleased to find that the horses were already saddled outside of the stables, and the bird dogs were being gathered. A total of three guides were ready to answer my questions about the ensuing hunt, and they were glad to change out the scabbard on my horse named Cheyenne to one that accepted my side by side 20-gauge shotgun. My tack was in excellent condition and no details were overlooked including the braiding of the horses tail.

Manager Robert Moorer and guide Kenyatta Harris
With three hunters on horseback, we were educated that our guns would be unloaded and in the scabbard when riding. The lead guide Robert Moorer kept an eye on the two English pointers that were scouring the open landscape for quail, while the scout focused on the hunters. Kenyatta Harris was our scout and he told us never to ride in front of his horse. When the lead guide was satisfied that both bird dogs were on point, then he would signal us all to dismount and Harris would place the hunters into flanking positions around the quail covey.
Safety measures came in the form of required hunter orange clothing, and for any birds flushing behind the guide and hunters, there would be no shooting.  When the wingshooters were in place, Harris would signal the dog handler to release a flushing dog to come and get the birds up. Shenandoah Plantation and many hunters believe that the quail will fly better and truer when flushed by a canine. I felt just a little bit more at home when I saw the South Carolina state dog Boykin Spaniel make a dash from the jeep and into the grassy cover in front of us.
This setting was a memorable one, with an English Pointer on hilltop with mature oak tree
Dismount after the hunt, and back at the barn
A massive covey of about 25 quail began to rise up and make a downward arcing flight to head down a nearby embankment. Bob McNally from Florida was on my left and he emptied his over and under shotgun folding one bird and dropping a leg on another. Somehow I paused, somewhat mesmerized by the moment in time when this seasoned upland hunter was exposed to the excitement of a covey rise that takes several seconds to develop. The buzzing of their wings tells the senses that they are making a forceful flight, and at the same time their instincts make them veer and swarm towards the nearest cover. My gun barked once at the final bird to rise up, killing it cleanly.

Harris has been guiding here for many years and possesses a keen eye when tracking downed birds. We picked up both dead birds, and the boykin spaniel chased down the wounded bird. I asked a rhetorical question out loud saying, Why didn’t I should a double on that covey rise? It would have been an easy shot. The smile on my face and the gratitude in my heart meant for that moment in time I was content with witnessing the pinnacle of a proper quail hunt at Shenandoah Plantation.    

Brace of bird dogs on point near trophy bass lake

To view this feature article in the newspaper click on Charleston Mercury.

To view past blog entries about quail hunting click on Barnsley Gardens, Georgia - Airy Hall Plantation, South Carolina - Buchanan Shoals, North Carolina - Jones Preserve, Tennessee - Piney Woods, Alabama

To view past blog entries about bobwhite quail management click S.C. Quail Initiative - National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative

To view past blog entries for my S.C. Quail Season Finale click on 201520142013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009

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