South Carolina Quail Hunting Forecast 2018

  • 10/1/2018 2:47:00 PM

Weather and Conditions

"We had a very warm February followed by a typical spring and early summer," says Michael Hook, small game program leader with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. "Most of the state received average or above-average rainfall throughout the early summer. This should have led to a good year for quail broods across the state. It dried out in late July and August so hopefully we had good chick survival. However, we did have yet another hurricane impact the Pee Dee portion of the state in September that brought severe flooding that could prove to be quite detrimental to quail populations in the impacted area."

Hatch and Broods

South Carolina does conduct an annual whistle count each summer, and this year will mark the third consecutive increase in total birds heard on the routes year over year," says Hook. "This is the first time since this survey was initiated in 1979 that we have seen an increase three years in a row. We also conduct an annual brood survey each summer but at this time the data is still being analyzed. Anecdotally, we are hearing very good reports across the state. There have been several reported instances of people finding coveys in places they haven’t seen birds in many years. We are only a few years removed from our worst years ever documented so we are still not where we would like to be but it’s always much better to be hearing of increasing quail numbers and folks seeing birds where they used to not be." 

Habitat and Programs

"There are places on both private and public lands across the state where there is a more focused effort on quail and quail habitat," says Hook. "On those areas the habitat is looking good and improving all the time. The South Carolina Bobwhite Initiative (SCBI) was created in 2015 and through the efforts of nearly 30 different partners quail habitat is being improved and created across the state."
Hook says this is especially true in the 10 counties that make up South Carolina's four quail focal areas. "Most recently a MOU (memorandum of understanding) was signed creating the South carolina Bobwhite Funding Partnership. This partnership will hopefully provide some much needed funding for the SCBI. Within the past year a collaborative landowner cost-share program was initialized and provided landowners cost-share funds to implement certain practices that benefit bobwhite quail.  We are currently looking for ways to expand that cost share program."  

Top Spots

It looks like some of the more traditional areas are going to be some of the hottest spots to hit this year," Hook says. "The Hampton/Allendale County area seems to be coming on strong. The whistle counts looked particularly good this year and folks are saying they are seeing some broods in the area. The Abbeville/McCormick/Greenwood County area seems to be a sort of hotspot as well. I have been hearing good reports from the field concerning broods in the area. The Lee/Darlington County area has had a fair amount of positive comments this summer as well. The positive comments and reports that I’ve been hearing certainly have me excited for quail season to open. Hopefully, what I have been hearing bears out this fall."

Insider Tips

Get here early in the season and wear some comfortable boots," Hook says. "Plenty of dog power helps too. There are birds to be found and you will have to work for them. But there’s a lot of beauty to be seen across the state and that holds true whether you are hunting in the pine savannas or the rural farmland found throughout South Carolina. That beauty is only enhanced if you are looking at it over a good dog and when you find a covey it may mean a little more because you know you had to earn it the hard way."