When speaking of the strongholds of quail hunting in the Southeast, the state of Georgia often comes to mind. Situated on 1,800 acres of upland pines set amongst the rolling foothills of Adairsville in north Georgia, Spring Bank Plantation offers a great test for the upland enthusiast. Red clay and rock can create tough walking conditions, and footing is very important when coveys rise to make their escape.
Guide Rusty Gwin is a native to the area and loves handling dogs at Spring Bank Plantation. He prefers to utilize a flushing Labrador retriever, after his English Pointer has located the quail. He employs a Dogtra two-dog shock collar system to keep control of his canines at all times. Sonny is free to roam, covering the varied topography with grace and ease, while Swag is kept at "heel" except when it is time to flush the birds. Both dogs are allowed to fetch and retrieve downed quail.
Using a double-gun with a sporting load like a 20-gauge is generally expected when hunting quail in Georgia. Hunters with extensive upland experience can get by with loads as skinny as 28-gauge, though most shooters never reach that level of skill. We were hunting in a wintery mist when the first covey of birds flushed, and I was fortunate to harvest one bird going to the right, before turning back to the left to double-up.
A fleet of jeeps, retrofitted for quail hunting, carries the hunters from the barn to the woodlands. Returning to the jeep to change out dogs, count downed birds and to get a drink of water, usually breaks up the hunt. After our jeep visit, Sonny got back on a covey of quail and Swag was sent in to roust them. A bird rose under my nose and banked hard left, and my guide could tell that I was tracking it with my gun waiting to shoot. CLICK. That bird got away since I had failed to load my gun after our break. Isn't it funny how the missed shots stick in your memory perhaps more than the rest.
Each point by Sonny, was followed by a flush from Swag, and the guide's bag was soon heavy with the day's harvest. Native grasses, broomsedge, lovegrass and partridge pea cover the entire property and creates plenty of brood habitat for bobwhites to hide in. It's all about the dog work, and this Georgia plantation has a kennel full of English Pointers and English Setters in order to keep a fresh rotation on point during their hunts.
Hunters seeking lodging while in north Georgia can stay at Barnsley Resort, an adjacent plantation property that offers amenities like horseback riding, sporting clays and golf. Their restaurant is also the closest place to eat a hearty meal either before or after your quail hunt. Spirits are high after a plantation quail hunt between those stately Georgia pines that help to provide a connection to our sporting heritage.