It’s almost foolhardy these days to think you can keep a field dog happy and healthy in the field looking for wild quail.
For however many reasons you want to believe, there just ain’t enough wild quail around to keep a true bird dog’s olfactory senses keen, not around here. Maybe Texas, Oklahoma. OK, so when the state’s wild quail season ends Monday — the last season day for rabbits and squirrels, and the snipe season ends Sunday — there’s still a chance to hunt quail.
That’s because there a near double handful of hunting preserves within an easy drive for south Louisiana hunters. Some within an hour’s drive in Louisiana and southwest Mississippi.
By March — both states allow preserves to operate through April — the concern is will there be enough quail and other birds to stay open that long?
“We’ll have enough,” Covey Rise manager Jimbo Geisler said. “We’ve got big quail, too.”
And it you have enough leftover change from your season, you can spring for chukkar and pheasant at some clubs.
“We’re getting steady bookings now, and our (bird) suppliers have enough to keep us running,” Geisler said.
These are pen-raised birds. Years ago, hunters scoffed at the idea of hunting “put” birds because, most times, hunters said they “just didn’t fly right.”
Times have changed, and while you’ll not hunt 10-12 bird coveys like in the old days in Louisiana and Mississippi, a two- or three-bird flush from these “put” birds is enough to keep dogs honed in on scent and demand an extra-sharp shooting eye.
A couple of hints when booking a trip: If you want to bring your dog, make sure to clear it with the preserve. Some prefer using their dogs. Others welcome you and your setter, pointer and/or spaniel. Check on rates. Some have standard rates for a specific number of birds, and charge for additional birds, while others have per-bird charge.
Most operations can provide a meal, but only if you ask, and some even have overnight accommodations.
And some have all-day, morning-only and afternoon-only hunts. Tell the outfitter your preference.
Here’s a list:
Covey Rise, Husser, (985) 747-0310, www.coveyriselodge.com;
Palo Alto Rod & Gun Club, Donaldsonville, (225) 717-3259, www.paloaltoplantation.net;
Long River Lodge, Melville, (877) 623-4595;
Bayou Teche Preserve, Breaux Bridge, (337) 332-1608, www.bayoutechehuntingpreserve.com;
Thornhill Preserve, Jayess, Mississippi, (601) 248-0245, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Deep South, Tylertown, Mississippi, (601) 551-6573, www.deepsouthquailhunts.com;
Full Flight, Collins, Mississippi, (601) 517-1941, www.fullflighthuntingpreserve.com;
Longleaf Plantation, Purvis, Mississippi, (800) 421-7370, www.longleafplantation.net.