There is a saying in South Georgia that is often used when quail hunting. That saying is "South Georgia Snow" and it is used to describe the slowly falling white feathers of a bob white quail as he has been sent home to glory by a well placed shot of a very fine shotgun. The Hump Day Boys made plenty of "South Georgia Snow" this past weekend as we loaded up and headed to Southern Woods Plantation for a full day afield.
The weather was not in our favor. Heavy rains from the recent storm systems covering the country had fallen on Friday night and we were hoping for the best as we met for breakfast on Saturday morning. There was a slight chance that we may have clearer skys as the day progressed, but heavy fog on our 45 minute ride, along with a few showers on the way was not doing much to improve our confidence. We pressed forward however with rain gear in tow and the closer we got to our destination, the clearer it got. It was wet, but it was not going to be enough to keep us from hunting and the rains had stopped for now.
After we arrived and got signed in, we took a few minutes to shoot a few rounds of skeet and meet some other hunters. Southern Woods would be host to 13 hunting parties on this Saturday averaging 4 hunters to a party. That means 13 Jeeps, 13 wagons, 13 guides, 13 flushing dogs, and 52 different pointing dogs if each Jeep carried the minimum of 4. They were busy!
The Hump Day Crew made up two of the hunting parties. We had 8 people with us and had drawn names to determine two 4 man teams. I was on Team One and we drew Jeep number 7. Team two was on Jeep 10. Our guide was a wonderful gentleman named Newt. We pulled Newt to the side before we began and told him of a little side wager that we had with the other team. The goal was simple. Kill more than them!! Newt understood and off we went.
Newt was from Nashville, Georgia and was a soft spoken man that offered a great deal of bird hunting knowledge. He had brought his own dogs for the hunt that day and you could tell that they had worked together before. Watching Newt and his dogs work the pine ridges was a thing of pure beauty. The dogs hunted close and I don't think I ever heard Newt raise his voice at them. He would give them a simple "whup" when he wanted them to turn or a "whoa" when they needed to stop. When it was time to "work careful" the dogs would actually creep to get lower to the ground to get a better scent. They may have been the best mannered bird dogs that I have ever hunted over. They also had great noses and would stop on a dime when Mr. Bob White gave away his location. Then it was Newt's yellow lab's turn to go to work. Sage was a 5 year old female who walked step by step with Newt all day. She would wait for her command to "get those birds" and then she would pounce sending a flurry of wings into the sky. As the boys and their guns met their mark sending South Georgia Snow falling from the sky, Sage would help gather our kill and return it to Newt's hands. We never lost a bird all day!
The morning hunt was a good one for us. We all shot well and the rains held off for the most part. We were a little wet but it could have been much worse. We met the other group back at the lodge and started counting up our tally. Team one ended up with 60 birds on the morning hunt but found ourselves 13 birds behind. Team two had killed 73. Apparently they informed their guide about the day's little wager too. Team two said their guide almost walked them to death in an effort to find more birds and help them win. The effort paid off with a very good sized lead at the half way point.
After a fine southern lunch of ham, green beans, fried okra, macaroni and cheese, biscuits and sweet tea, we took a nap in some very fine recliners strategically placed around a very large TV. The time came to load back up and we did just that determined to make a strong afternoon comeback. Newt and the dogs were great and we actually improved on our morning numbers. We ended the afternoon hunt with 75, for a grand days total of 135. Our effort was great but I am sad to report that we still got trounced as Team two also killed 75 in the afternoon hunt bringing their day's total to 148. That is all I have to say about that!
The evening at the lodge can be summed up with this. Great friends, Great food, Great service, Great fellowship. We really had a wonderful time sitting around and reliving all of the day's events and making a few new memories to carry home with us.
Doc, Claybird, Councilor and the South Georgia Snow Making King!
I am happy to report that even after a rather late night, most of the boys made it home in time for Sunday School. This is a great group of men and I am glad to call each of them my friend!
We will be back to enjoy this again because in my world, ...... I love making snow!!