If you are a landowner looking for a simple hunting safety orientation for your guests, or if you have been invited to participate in a southern quail hunt, this video is available to meet your needs. In under eight minutes, we cover the safety basics and common approach to wild bobwhite quail hunting in the Southeast.
We needed a tool to help provide consistent safety orientations for partners and guests joining us for hunts at our Tall Timbers and Livingston Place properties and figured we would go ahead and make it something others can use as well. Bringing more people to the experience of wild quail hunting is certainly an important path to cultivating future land stewards.
Our team covered the safety basics that we think are important or unique to quail hunting in the Albany and Red Hills regions. If we missed anything important for your hunts, make sure to cover those with your guests. This is not intended to replace general hunter safety training. Key topics from the video are also covered in the text below.
- Follow all instructions from your guide or hunt leader.
- Wear some hunter orange to help others see you in the field. Traditional red hats and white vests are also an excellent way to be seen.
- Dress in layers that allow you to adjust to temperature changes throughout the day. Chaps or brush pants are also good to help protect your legs.
- Remember to stay hydrated and know your limits. Hunting accidents are more likely when you are tired or have pushed your physical abilities too far.
- Only use double-barrel shotguns for quail hunting with a group. The break-action design of these guns allows everyone in your party to easily see when your gun is in an open and safe position.
- Always point the end of your gun away from people and dogs when you close the action, and for the rest of the time it’s loaded.
- Don’t forget to open the action of your shotgun before turning around to walk back to your hunting party.
- Once you have returned to your hunting party, double-check that you have removed the shells from your gun and that the barrels are free from any obstructions before closing the action and returning it to the gun rack or scabbard.
- The typical bobwhite quail hunting approach includes a guide, two hunters, and one or two dogs. Hunters walk with one on either side of the guide and stay a couple of paces ahead. This helps keep the guide in a safer location behind the two hunters.
- When a dog is on point, keep a close eye on the guide and your fellow hunter as the three of you move forward as a unit toward the potential flush. Listen for instructions as you may need to speed up or slow down to stay in line and approach for a safe shot as the quail flush.
- Each hunter has a safe shooting area of 90 degrees from an imaginary line straight out from the guide. For example, the hunter on the right can swing right to shoot birds flushing in their lane, and the hunter on the left can swing left.
- It is essential that you exercise discipline and only take shots at quail in your shooting lane and flying above the brush. Swinging for a shot out of your lane or shooting at low-flying birds will put other people or dogs in danger.
- This includes not turning around to shoot at quail that may have flushed out behind you. On most hunts, the area behind the active hunters must be a safe space for other people involved in the hunt, additional dogs, horses, mules, wagons, or other vehicles. If it’s not your turn to shoot, this is also where you should stay to avoid encroaching on the active shooting lanes.
- When quail fly in your safe shooting lane, and you take a successful shot, enjoy the excitement of the moment and try to mark the location of the downed bird visually, but resist moving towards it until the guide calls for guns to be emptied and the retrieving dog is sent. This is also a great time to collect your spent shells to help keep the woods clean.
- If you have any doubt, don’t shoot! Passing on a questionable shot is the intelligent and respectful thing to do.
- As mentioned earlier, remember to open the action of your shotgun before turning around to walk back to your hunting party. This signals to everyone that they are safe as you walk back to join them. Forgetting to open the action of a gun each time it’s picked up and when returning to the hunting party from a shooting opportunity are the most common mistakes made by those new to quail hunting with a group.
Please follow these hunting safety rules as you enjoy your time in the woods. Your hosts and fellow hunters will appreciate knowing they can feel safe in the field with you.
Special thanks to Pinckney Hill for providing access to collect footage of a traditional horseback hunt, and to Balfour Media for producing this video, and providing additional footage of prescribed fire use on private lands.