DNR Small Game Project ranks top counties for quail, rabbit
Survey results for the 2009-10 hunting season show Calhoun, Lee, Marlboro, Horry and Florence counties were the top five counties for quail, while the top five counties for rabbits jumped per hour were Saluda, Lee, Hampton, Chester and Abbeville, according to biologist Billy Dukes, Small Game Project supervisor with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
Through intensive field observations, South Carolina quail and rabbit hunters maintained detailed records of their hunting excursions throughout the year and provided the data to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Small Game Project for analysis. Hunting data compiled included the number of quail coveys flushed, covey size, number of rabbits jumped, the dates and counties where hunts occurred, and the amount of time expended in pursuit of these species.
To receive a copy of the Quail Hunter Survey report or the Rabbit Hunter Survey report or to have your name added to the list of potential cooperators, contact the DNR Small Game Project at (803) 734-3609.
Statewide survey results indicate a significant decrease in the number of quail coveys flushed per hour and the number of rabbits jumped per hour when compared with the previous year. The quail covey flush rate was 0.36 coveys/hour during the 2009-10 season. Quail hunters in the top five counties reported flushing an average of 0.39 to 0.96 coveys per hour. The rabbit jumping rate decreased from 1.37 to 1.20 rabbits/hour during the 2009-10 season.
The Midlands, defined as a ten-county area across the upper coastal plain, claimed the highest rate of quail finds at 0.51 coveys per hour. Piedmont quail hunters had significantly less success than those hunting in other regions of the state.
The Rabbit Hunter Survey indicated a slight decrease in hunting success during the 2009-10 season following 2 years of increasing success. A majority of rabbit hunting by survey cooperators (61 percent) occurred in the Piedmont. The Midlands Region exhibited the highest rate of rabbits jumped per hour (1.40), among regions with a minimum of 25 hunts.
Written comments from hunters in the surveys provided some excellent field observations, particularly on habitat conditions. Many cooperators noted that a lack of prescribed burning on public and private lands has resulted in impaired habitat quality and hunting success. Hunters in both surveys noted that the extreme cold and wet weather during the season negatively impacted hunter effort and success.
"To ensure continued accuracy and usefulness of future small game surveys, the Small Game Project would like to increase the number of hunters participating this coming season," Dukes said. Avid quail and rabbit hunters across the state who are willing to assist by taking careful notes on their hunts should write to DNR Small Game Project, PO Box 167, Columbia, SC 29202. Indicate whether you are interested in participating in the Quail Hunter Survey, the Rabbit Hunter Survey, or both. Survey materials will be mailed to cooperators in mid-November, just prior to the opening of statewide quail and rabbit seasons.