Miss Kate and the Game Bird Program
By Bill Palmer, PhD, Game Bird Program Director
Kate Ireland was a staunch advocate of hunting and luckily for Tall Timbers an even more enthusiastic advocate of quail. Through her steadfast support of the Game Bird Program she helped to strengthen Tall Timbers and bring together the quail plantation community in the Red Hills, Albany and beyond.
I first got to know Miss Kate during my job interview in 1996. At that time the Albany Quail Program was highly respected by the plantation community, but Tall Timbers was viewed with skepticism by many, and had only a few financial supporters. Miss Kate made clear to me that one of her goals was to bring together the entire quail plantation community, and she believed that to achieve this goal would require improving the status of the game bird research and outreach programs. Thankfully, she put her wits, time, and financial support (along with many others) to this end. Nine years later we held the 2005 Fall Field Day at Wildfair plantation near Albany where “under the tent” Clay Sisson (Director of the Albany Quail Program) announced that the Albany Quail Program, formerly with Auburn University, was joining forces with Tall Timbers. Of course, Miss Kate wanted to say a few words. She lightheartedly told the crowd that Clay Sisson and I once reminded her of two male pointers lifting their leg on each other! On a serious note, she added how pleased she was to see the Field Day back in Albany and to have these programs working so closely together again. Now 15 years later, the Game Bird Program works across GA, FL, SC, and AL and as well as many other states, in essence recreating the Quail Research Cooperative begun by Herbert Stoddard decades before. None of this would have been possible without Miss Kate.
I have many awesome memories of hunting with Miss Kate at Foshalee, but one that stands out was an end of the season hunt on a warm, muggy March day. Thunder and lightning were imminent as we headed out on her Kawasaki Mule with manager Joe Harvey. I was amazed that even in her 70s, the owner of one of the premier plantations in the Red Hills, who could hunt on any day of the week, would not yield to the weather, but rather loved every minute of it! Her determination to succeed proved priceless for Tall Timbers and especially the Game Bird Program. All of my staff and I are indebted to her unwavering support and leadership!
Miss Kate Ireland successfully shooting quail from her Bad Boy Buggy on Foshalee in March 2008 at age 77; one of the last quail she harvested on Foshalee after a lifetime of shooting. Photo by Shane Welledorf.