By David Rainer, Staff Writer
Hunting pen-raised birds is now the norm in Alabama, and there is a range of opportunities to do so, from high-end to basic.
Most Baby Boomers who love the out- doors will remember the heyday of hunt- ing bobwhite quail in Alabama, when a group of hunters with quality bird dogs might flush a dozen or more coveys in one day.
Unfortunately, that type of wild bird hunting started to fade in the mid-1980s and the slide continued at a rapid pace. Those used to hearing the male’s distinctive mating whistle in the spring and summer, long to hear that bobwhite again.
Efforts have been underway on nu- merous fronts to try to revitalize the wild population, but progress has been pain- fully slow.
For now, bird hunters must rely on pen-raised birds for any consistent action. In Alabama that means a wide variety of choices from a bare-bones hunt with birds, dogs and a guide furnished on a relatively small tract of land, to a five- star experience in a horse-drawn wagon, world-class bird dogs and a full-time chef waiting back at the elegant lodge.
MOST HUNT PEN-RAISED BIRDS
Rex Clark, 55, and wife, Jacque, run High Log Creek Farm and Hunting Pre- serve near Hatchechubee, Ala. It’s the Clarks’ intention to serve up old-fash- ioned quail hunting with horse-drawn wagons and a kennel full of champion bird dogs. When the hunting is finished, the Southern hospitality spills into a luxurious lodge with a gourmet chef.
“We’ve been doing this for 12 years,” said Rex, who is also a cattle rancher. “I’ve quail-hunted all my life. And quail hunting in Alabama has almost become a thing of the past. There are very few wild birds left.
“I still run a plantation, too, where they’re hunting wild birds. There are several places around still hunting wild birds, but not many.”
Like most outdoorsmen of his era, Rex remembers well when Alabama had an abundance of wild bobwhites, especially in central Alabama, where Union Springs is known for its bird dog field trials.