South Louisiana sportsmen flock to one or more fundraising fetes throughout any year to support their favorite outdoors passion.
Waterfowl hunters have Ducks Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl; fishermen have the Coastal Conservation Association and the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society; big-game hunters the Quality Deer Management Association, Safari Club International, and there are two chapters of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Turkey hunters have the National Wild Turkey Federation, and there’s always the National Rifle Association.
Yet a decades-long passion has escaped most sportsmen’s attention — quail hunting. A decline in habitat, mostly because of land-use changes and predatory threats to wild quail populations, has seen the sport lose thousands of devotees during the past 60 years.
Just look at Baton Rouge: 50 years ago, Essen Lane was a two-lane gravel road bordered on both sides by native grass pastures, the occasional blackberry briar patch and enough water to support a wide variety of wildlife. Talk to old-timers, and this acreage that swept from Jefferson Highway west to Perkins Road to the Bluebonnet Swamp was perfect for running beagles to chase rabbits and for setters, pointers and Brittanys to point bobwhite coveys.
Today, the only bobwhites calling to hear within miles of Essen Lane — and only occasionally — is in and around Santa Maria on the very southern reaches of East Baton Rouge Parish.
Today, with very rare exception, quail hunting is found only in game preserves, paid hunts in rural areas where pen-raised quail are offered to continue this hunter-and-dog sport.
It’s because there are enough folks who raise extraordinary quail dogs and can’t wait for their next chance to take to the field that they’re resurrecting the Atchafalaya Region Chapter of Quail Forever, and putting on the chapter’s first banquet in eight years.
The gathering is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 9 at Chef John Folse’s White Oak Plantation on George O’Neal Road in Baton Rouge.
The major part of this resurgent effort is that money raised will stay in the chapter with plans for an “experience day” for youngsters next spring, and provide landowners with resources and outlines to make their lands suitable for sustainable quail populations.
Want to know more? Call chapter chair John Ballance at (225) 266-1953 or email: email@example.com.
Heading to Canada?
Waterfowl hunters heading to the Canadian provinces of Ontario and part of British Columbia might not be able to return with the game because of health concerns and restrictions on transporting game birds from those areas.
Go to the federal website: www.cbp.gov/newsroom/national-media-release/2015-04-11-000000/hpai-restrictions-avian-commodities-originating.