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October 26, 2007

DNR small game project ranks top quail and rabbit counties

Survey results for the 2006-07 hunting season show Georgetown, Clarendon, Horry, Sumter and Lee counties were the top five counties for quail, while the top five counties for rabbits jumped per hour were Fairfield, Saluda, Edgefield, Hampton and Newberry, according to biologists with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources Small Game Project.
           
Through intensive field observations, South Carolina quail and rabbit hunters maintained detailedRabbit 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. The S.C. State Council of Quail Unlimited assists with funding for the supplies necessary to conduct the surveys.
           
To receive a copy of the Quail Hunter Survey and 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 slight increase in the number of quail coveys flushed per hour and a slight decrease in the number of rabbits jumped per hour when compared with the previous year. The quail covey flush rate was 0.59 coveys/hour during the 2006-07 season, up from 0.49 coveys/hour the previous year. Quail hunters in the top five counties reported flushing an average of 0.57 to 1.89 coveys per hour. The rabbit-jumping rate decreased from 1.39 to 1.26 rabbits/hour during the 2006-07 season.
           
The Northern Coastal Plain, defined as a seven-county area from the Charleston-Georgetown county line north to the North Carolina line and inland to Dillon, Florence, and Clarendon counties, claimed the highest rate of quail finds at just over one covey per hour. Piedmont quail hunters had significantly less success than those hunting in other regions of the state, said Billy Dukes, DNR Small Game Project supervisor.
           
The Rabbit Hunter Survey has shown slightly declining hunting success during the past three years. A majority of rabbit hunting (74 percent) by survey cooperators occurred in the Piedmont. The Southern Coastal Plain exhibited the highest rate of rabbits jumped per hour (1.52), among regions with a minimum of 25 hunts, said Judy Barnes, wildlife biologist with the DNR Small Game Project.
           
Written comments from hunters in the surveys provided some excellent field observations, particularly on food items of quail. The preferred foods reported for quail were agricultural grains, soybeans and lespedeza. Other food items such as native legumes and acorns were also reported. Many cooperators also noted that a lack of prescribed burning on public and private lands has resulted in impaired habitat quality and hunting 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.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.


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