How Is Shooting Pen Raised Quail Different from Hunting Wild Birds?

A few years ago I did something I had not done for 30 years. And unlike last April when I went horseback riding for the first time in 30 years – and fell off! – this experience did not hurt a bit.

I won a half-day quail hunt at Barksdale Bobwhite Plantation near Cochran. Although I had not shot at a quail since I was 16 years old, many of those old memories of quail hunts with my father are still strong. With great anticipation of the upcoming hunt, I drove to Barksdale Saturday morning. My day was to included a fried quail lunch, shooting my 10 quail limit, guide, trained dogs and field transportation.

When I was growing up my father always kept a couple of pointers. We hunted quail almost every Saturday during season. There were many acres of farms around ours we could hunt. Although I hardly ever killed anything with my .410, I enjoyed following the men around and watching the dogs.

The best hunt I ever had growing up was one afternoon after school. I got the 12 gauge, some shells and the dogs and went by myself. It was one of the first times I had been allowed to use the bigger gun. That afternoon I got up five coveys and killed one bird from each. I did not know what I was doing well enough to find any singles, but five birds was a lot for me!

Last Saturday, I killed 10 quail. I was worried that I would not be able to hit them after such a long time, but I shot only about 15 times. Pen raised quail are a lot easier to hit than wild birds. I should not have missed the four or five I did not hit.

My guide was Tony Taylor, a teacher in Dodge County. He brought his four English Setters along and we drove to a nearby open pine and field area. Soon after letting the dogs out, they locked up in the edge of some broom straw.

I was shocked to see two quail on the ground when we got to the dogs. I don’t ever remember seeing wild birds on the ground in front of dogs. One flushed and I hit it. After it was retrieved, we went back where one dog was still on point on the other bird. When it got up, it flew right in my face, over my head and right toward Linda where she was taking pictures. I could not shoot.

Tony said pen raised birds were unpredictable. Some get up in front of you, others you almost have to kick to make fly. You never know where they will go when they fly. It was very different from my hunts 30 years ago.

Birds had been put out in pairs in the area I was hunting. A couple of times we got up 4 to 6 where they had gotten together between hunts. By the time we found the third group I was into this kind of shooting, accepting it as different from what I remembered, but still very enjoyable.

Hunts like Barksdale are about the only kind of quail hunting left. If you have dogs, they have special prices for you to hunt your dog without a guide. Or, you can be like me and have everything done for you. Barksdale also has chukar and pheasants if you want to hunt them. Sporting clays, skeet and a five stand range are also available.

I really enjoyed my trip. You might want to check it out if you like quail hunting. And the meals were excellent!

Hunting and eating pen raised quail are both a lot different from hunting and eating the wild birds I grew up on. The pen raised birds stay on the ground longer, fly lower, slower and for a shorter distance, and are easier to hit. Their meat is not as white or quite as tasty as what I remember from my youth.

Quail always were white meat much like a chicken breast. Dove were darker, stronger meat. The pen raised quail I have eaten from Barksdale Bobwhite Plantation are not all dark meat but they are not as white and mild as I remember. I still have not turned one down when put on my plate, though!

Shooting quail at a resort is still a lot of fun even if different from the good old days. Although expensive, you should give it a try if you get a chance.

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