The Sport of Aristocracy
Quail hunting for years has been called the sport of aristocracy. Perhaps that is because one is not required to rise before dawn and shiver in a blind for hours waiting for a shot. Quail hunting is a gentleman's game and is often a spectator and participator sport at the same time. Normally quail hunting involves a pair of hunters and a pair of bird dogs in the field at the same time. The joy of watching a pair of nicely trained bird dogs coursing through the big piney woods on the scent of the elusive bobwhite while enjoying the camaraderie of a hunting buddy is one of life's greatest experiences.
||The Proper Gear is Essential
As in all sports, the proper gear is essential to the enjoyment and success of the sport. Short leather boots [We prefer Goretex or a Camo Boot] or are acceptable for most quail hunts since quail are rarely found in wetland areas. In the South and Western U.S. many quail hunters prefer snakeboots due to the overlap of quail and rattlesnakes in the same habitat during the fall of the season.
||Every quail hunter should own a pair of briar-faced, "brush" pants. These hunting pants will prevent briars and thorns from penetrating the pants and sticking the hunters since quail are often found in areas that have briars and thistles. A comfortable and highly visible front load hunting shirt is preferred by our guides and hunters. Of course a vest or coat is essential for the hunter to carry his shells and game.
||A blaze orange vest or jacket should be purchased for this sport. While many types of hunting require camouflage, high visibility is an essential in the sport of quail hunting. By virtue of the proximity of hunters to one another and the unpredictable flight pattern of quail, it is extremely important that each hunter be able to see one another at all times.
Now lets look at the type of shotgun that is best suited for quail hunting. Quail can and are pursued by hunters using every gauge from 410 to 12. It is important to select the proper barrel length and choke. The shorter barrels and more open chokes are preferable for quail hunting. I would recommend a 26" barrel and a skeet or improved cylinder choke. While the 20 gauge is the most common gauge of choice, the 28 gauge is gaining rapid popularity among quail hunters.
Pointing the Quarry
As mentioned previously, most quail hunts involve a pair of dogs and a pair of hunters in the field at the same time. Each dog is competing to see which one can locate a covey of quail first. Once one of the dogs zeros in on his quarry, he will freeze on "point." The other dog is trained to "honor" the pointing dog by actually freezing and pointing that dog.This is when the excitement builds in anticipation of an explosion of whirring wings known as the covey flush. An awareness of all of the gunners responsibilities and location of each prior to the flush is an absolute necessity. Strict gun discipline is required.
Ensuring a Safe and Happy Hunt
- While wind conditions and proximity of escape cover for the flushing birds may alter what I am about to say, as a rule of thumb the hunters should approach their dogs from behind the dogs.
- The gun muzzles should be oriented skyward and the shotgun needs to remain on safety until mounted to one's shoulder.
- The two hunters should approach the dogs, one on either side, and in a straight line with one another. This straight line is very important for the safety of each hunter.
- Prior to moving on up and allowing the birds to flush, each hunter should visibly and mentally locate: each other, both dogs, the hunting rig, and the hunting guide if on a guided hunt. Each hunter should know in advance where he can and cannot swing the muzzle of his gun to follow an escaping quail.
- Each hunter's range of gun swing should be from the mid-point between him and his partner and out to his side. He should never cross the mid-point to shoot at a quail flying on his partner's side. Not only is this poor shotgunning etiquette, it is dangerous.
- Additionally, a quail hunter should never take a shot at a low flying quail that would cause him to lower the muzzle of his shotgun below a horizontal plane with the ground. Taking a shot at a low-flying quail has ended the life of many fine pointing dogs since the inception of this great sport.
If each hunter places safety and sportsmanship at a much higher priority than actually pulling the trigger, quail hunting is truly a unique hunting experience.
The preceding information was written by Cader Cox, owner of Riverview Plantation and long time quail hunter and guide and is a great review of quail hunting advice for advanced and beginners alike.
Riverview Plantation is one of the premier hunting plantations in the world. Five generations have managed and cared for the plantation. Hunters love the plantation because of the expert assistance and guidance given by the family to their guests. A trip to Riverview Plantation is a must for anyone who truly loves the sport of quail hunting.