I miss many things about the ‘old days’ but there is one thing I miss more than the rest; quail hunting. I couldn’t sleep for a week prior to the season opening for sheer excitement and anticipation of seeing the dogs point.
Back in days past, I would walk out our back door at daylight, call Red, the red speckled setter, and by noontime have 20 wild bobwhites in my hunting coat. The quail were everywhere because the old Long Leaf timber was still standing and the wiregrass was thick. This provided an excellent habitat for the quail to raise, hide from predators and feed on the wild seeds from many different kinds of plants. After Red left, came Clyde on the scene. He was a pointer and what a retriever he was. He would fetch a dove as well as a quail and all I had to do was go to a dove shoot with Clyde and just watch. Every time a gun went off and Clyde saw a bird fall, he took off at top speed and fetched the bird back to me. Once we were in a field shooting dove and there was a rise in the field. I could see a bird fall but could not see who shot it. Clyde and I watched a lone bird fly over the rise and down it went at the shot. Clyde took off and disappeared over the rise. In a moment, Clyde came running back with a dove in his mouth and with Ted Mercer running close behind giving Clyde some choice words about whose dove it was. I used to think this was funny, my dog stealing other folk’s birds, but once I got educated by one Max Carter as to dog etiquette, I repented. I will not tolerate my retriever doing that now and I won’t tolerate yours doing it either.
After Clyde, came Sport, a black spotted setter. As it turned out, Sport was the last bird dog I ever owned because by the time he left, the woods were gone along with the wire grass and the quail, but oh, what a time we had before that.
My Uncle K.D. planted a few plots of bicolor, a quail delicacy, and would let the higher ups from Filtered Rosin, a turpentine distiller, come out and hunt. They did this so much in that one place that the quail population was getting depleted in that particular location. Chester Crosby, the Filtered Rosin manager, did something unheard of at that time. He bought some tame quail and brought them out and released them before the hunters got there one morning. He had them in a sack and twirled them around several times, which makes the quail dizzy, and when he dumped them out they just sat there. Right after he left, one of the Dorminey boys, whose Dad’s land bordered Uncle K.D.’s, came along with a single shot .22 rifle, squirrel hunting, and spotted that covey of quail just sitting there. He started shooting them and later said he was mystified they wouldn’t fly, and he killed the whole covey. He was long gone when the hunters arrived with Mr. Crosby. They looked high and low but all they ever saw of that covey of quail were a few feathers where they had been slaughtered.
I know I will never see wild Bob White quail in any number again in my lifetime and I doubt my children will either. The disappearance of this once abundant species just goes to prove that nothing terrestrial lasts forever, nothing. I know I helped in the destruction of habitat for quail, Fox squirrels and many other species, but did so out of ignorance. I am doing my best to right this wrong by not repeating the sins of the past and by providing safe habitat for all God’s creatures as best I can.