The North Carolina Sandhills offers an excellent opportunity for quail, dove and woodcock hunting.
The Sandhills Game Land is a 63,000 acre area that is located primarily in Richland County with parts extending into Scotland and Moore Counties. The property features a longleaf pine ecosystem that is over 100 years old and is extensively managed by the state. The property terrain is made up of gently rolling hills and sandy soil. There are also eight lakes within the property.
This park is considered as the hidden gem of North Carolina.
The extensive management practice helps keep the habitat excellent for quail. Part of the property is the field trail area. The field trail area has public dog kennels and horse corrals available. This area is used for several major championships as well as local club field trials. It is an excellent area to run your bird dog.
Hunting is allowed on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday throughout the season. A very well-developed road system is in place on the property so access is very good without the need for a four-wheel drive vehicle. The boundaries are clearly marked by two orange bands around the trees near the property borders.
This is a very big piece of land and it is suggested that visitors use a GPS both in the vehicle and on foot just to make sure they not get turned around. It is best to arrive very early in the morning and listen for quail to start calling in order to pick an area to focus on for a hunt.
The nearest town to the Sandhills Game Lands is Hoffman. Hoffman is a fairly small town that has some fast food and some lodging. The next nearby town, Pinehurst has more dining and lodging choices.
Our hunt started where we had heard some quail calling. After about an hour the dogs were on point. A few minutes of searching revealed the dogs’ location and the direction of the dog’s nose indicated where the quail were. Oddly, only one quail flushed toward the pine-tops.
After re-locating to another area on the property where good-looking habitat existed we once again released the dogs. It took nearly two hours to hear the redundancy of the beeper collars tone indicating a dog was on point. This time a covey of about 12 birds took to the air. Four shots rang out and half as many birds fell to the earth.
Once the birds were retrieved we headed to one of the ponds to water the dogs. After cooling off in the water and having a drink, the dogs continued down the side of the pond when suddenly they froze. We loaded our guns and set a course to pass in front of the dogs expecting to see quail burst into the air. Instead, a lone woodcock took to the air. It caught us off-guard at first since we did not expect it.
For the do-it-yourself hunter wishing to experience “Old South” plantation-like surroundings while hunting quail the Sandhills Game Lands are an outstanding public resource.