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Quail preserve season begins in October

Guides at Piney Woods assist getting hunters into position. Photo by Jeff Dennis

Guides at Piney Woods assist getting hunters into position. Photo by Jeff Dennis

The season for quail hunting preserves runs from October through the end of March, but warm weather can deter hunters in early October. With much more seasonal weather coming to the Lowcountry over the weekend, including temperatures dipping down to the upper 30s, it’s time to think about hitting the bird woods. The call of the bobwhite quail and the sight of a bird dog on point are enough to make any wingshooter ready to hunt.
Hunters continue having difficulty finding enough wild quail for hunting purposes, but they continue to own bird dogs and intend to carry on upland hunting traditions passed down through the generations. This makes quail preserve hunting a good option for upland enthusiasts, and several different hunt formats exist making it so that hunters can choose a place that allows you to bring your own dogs, or perhaps choose one that provides their own dogs.

Guide Keith Wade behind an English Pointer. Photos By Jeff Dennis

Guide Keith Wade behind an English Pointer. Photos By Jeff Dennis

At a recent meeting of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association at Lake Eufala, Alabama I visited one such quail preserve for a hunt. The Piney Woods Hunting Lodge is family-owned and run by Keith Wade, and it consists of about 450 acres of rolling terrain. Piney Woods Creek bisects the property, and the associated backwater is just one of the scenic vistas this visitor found, including an old barn in the woods that provided a sense of small farm authenticity. We had four guns and two guides on our afternoon hunt in the planted pines, just within sight of a trophy bass pond. Bird dogs Sassy and Jake took turns pointing coveys of released quail while we sorted out who would shoot each time, and who would rest a minute on the quail wagon. With it being the first hunt of the season the shooters appeared to show some rust and Wade shouted words of encouragement the whole time.
Piney Woods quail preserve has been in operation for 20 years in Barbour County and Wade is mindful of the downturn in business during the economic recession. “Business was going great for a long time, with repeat customers keeping me totally booked; but then the money for recreational hunting just dried up for some folks,” said Wade. Fortunately, those same folks are starting to return now from places like Florida, Georgia, Arkansas and South Carolina too.

A harvested bobwhite quail is a striking bird.

A harvested bobwhite quail is a striking bird.

The quail flew well this day and offered a sporting opportunity again and again. One of the female hunters welcomed instruction from Wade on how to improve her own wingshooting and dog training skills. It’s nice to know that the owner and chief hunting guide at Piney Woods has the demeanor and drive to will his customers to success. Since the first frost of winter had not visited Eufala yet, Wade invited us to return and hunt in winter when the green cover has died back some, exposing more of their telltale red clay soils.
After the hunt, a man named Skeebo cleaned our quail since we were to join Wade and his family in their barn for a traditional quail supper. “We serve fresh quail with biscuits and tomato gravy to all our first time visitors,” said Wade. Pouring four mason jars of tomato preserves into a large black iron skillet, it was Wade himself who prepared the meal, and we learned a little about Alabama hospitality at supper that evening. They keep it simple and they aim to please.
The accommodations for the remainder of our meeting were at LakePoint Resort State Park overlooking Eufala Lake. Alabama Black Belt Adventures hosted a welcome reception and dinner at the Shorter historic mansion in downtown Eufala. Over the next couple of days, many went freshwater fishing at the National Wildlife Refuge in Eufala and the fish were biting great. This was my first visit to the Quail Trail in Alabama and I was glad to find that Eufala is located right on the Georgia state line, and just close enough to tempt a return visit.

Jeff Dennis, Contributor (367 Posts)

Jeff Dennis is a Lowcountry native. Read his blog at www.LowcountryOutdoors.com