04 February 2019

The Timeless Gifts of Bobwhite Quail Hunting

For almost two decades, Rio Piedra Plantation has hosted guests from around the world for some of the best bobwhite quail hunts in the country. We’ve walked alongside many hunters over the years, through the shady South Georgia pines, with our bird dogs always a few steps ahead, and plenty of quail right beneath the next brush. While we’ve seen the landscape of American culture change right before our eyes, we’ve noticed that our great sport of quail hunting has stood the test of time. But, why? With all of the distractions around us, what is it about this little bird that keeps us coming back to the woods?

Quail hunting has always been a favorite American pastime. We can look back generations – to the great men and women who first came upon our land – and witness the sport echoed in the memories of them. From North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia to Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas quail hunting is woven into the fabric of our culture so tightly that you’d have a hard time separating one from the other. In fact, many would argue that what began as a sport for the plantation gentleman, is now a lifestyle that spills over into fashion, home décor, art, and literature.

We believe that South Georgia’s Plantation Belt is one of the best places in the country for wild quail hunting. We’ve seen past American presidents, Hollywood’s elite, distinguished diplomats, along with veteran and novice hunters, hunt on the land - and come back time and again.

The history and tradition of quail hunting in the Plantation Belt runs deep. In the late 1800s, Northern industrialists heading south for vacation took the railroad as far south as it would go and landed in South Georgia. They quickly took to the mild winters and fair climate, but that’s not all. Many found that the sprawling longleaf pines were a perfect place to recreate the traditional English hunting estate on American soil - featuring the native bobwhite quail. Soon, many of these Northerners bought up Southern plantations and worked to create a quail hunting landscape like nothing else in the country.

Longleaf pines

See, bobwhite quail need large, contiguous tracts of land with just the right balance of coverage to hide from predators and open air to fly. South Georgia’s Plantation Belt has all of that and more. And, as the rest of the country (including South Georgia) began to see a decline in bobwhite quail populations in the latter half of the 20th century, the Plantation Belt adopted aggressive and revolutionary conservation strategies to save this favorite bird from extinction. Over the last two decades, South Georgia/Northern Florida’s conservation strategies have successfully sustained, and in some areas, increased quail populations that were once seeing a decline. Rio Piedra Plantation has been proud to be a part of all of this.

But, what makes bobwhite quail hunting so special now? When we have social media, Facetime, YouTube, phones that can be stashed in our pockets, and 24/7 connectivity, what makes heading to the woods with bird-dogs and a shotgun something worth doing? Something worth teaching our children? Well, since no two hunters or hunts are ever the same, you can ask 100 quail hunters, and you’re sure to get 100 different answers.

Hunting friends

To some, the “why” is the bird itself – that elusive bobwhite quail with its soft whistle and dappled plumage (the best camouflage) that artists and writers have depicted time and again. To others, it’s the bird-dogs - there is nothing more spectacular than watching a well-trained pointer, English setter, or Brittany do what they were bred to do - find the coveys - . And for others it’s the sounds – first, the utter peace and quiet of the pines, then the sudden whoosh before the shot. It’s in those couple of split seconds – between the whoosh and the shot - where the magic often happens, where the love for the sport takes hold and stays.

Quail hunting is our history. It’s a chance to come face-to-face with a sport that is time-honored and beloved by our American ancestors and find a true connection to the land. It provides us with time to unplug and breathe. It’s the legacy we can pass on to our children and our children’s children. No matter how quickly everything else changes, the bobwhite quail, the bird dogs, the flush, and the whoosh, will remain a constant. And in a world where nothing is guaranteed, the sport of quail hunting is a gift we are lucky to pass along.

Rio Piedra Plantation is currently booking reservations for the 2019-20 quail hunting season. Call us to reserve your spot under the longleaf pines of the South Georgia Plantation Belt.

Bird dogs at work