John's Journal...

Guide to Overlooked February Hunting

Day 3: February’s Woodcock and Quail Hunting and Recipes for Both

Editor’s Note: No, hunting season isn’t over in many states, and real hunting may have just begun. Although deer is the glamour species of the fall and the winter, there are many-more game animals and birds that may deserve your attention this month. More states are having small-game seasons during the month of February, because small-game animals have taken a backseat to deer, turkey and waterfowl. However, before this country saw the rebuilding of deer herds, turkey flocks and elk herds, small-game hunting was the most popular of all hunting sports, with rabbits and squirrels not only drawing the most attention, but also taking-up getting the most space on the dinner plate. So, let’s take a look at the overlooked hunting in February.


Click for Larger ViewHunting the lowlands for rabbits also gives a shooter a good opportunity to take another February bonus – the woodcock. Some hunters mistake the Philohela minor for the jacksnipe. Both birds have long beaks they use for finding worms and grubs. They’re both a mass of brown and black feathers and jump and fly erratically. But the woodcock is a larger bird than the snipe. Also, woodcocks are found more often in the woods than in the fields. The woodcock is a much-slower flying bird than the snipe. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s easier to shoot. The woodcock is master when it comes to zig-zagging in and out of heavily forested cover. I’ve seen these giant hummingbirds consistently put trees between me and them as their wings have beat a hasty retreat. Instinct shooting with an accurate shotgun is most often the difference between woodcocks for supper and only a spent shell to remind you of what you think you’ve seen.

Broiled Woodcock
4 woodcocks, salt, pepper
1 pound salt pork, sliced
4 slices bacon
1/4-cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
4 slices buttered toast
Sprinkle woodcock inside and out with salt and pepper. Wrap each with a slice of bacon, and fasten with string or a wooden pick. Place woodcock in broiler pan about 6 inches from heat. Broil 8-10 minutes on each side or until tender, basting frequently with butter. Remove string or wooden pick. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve on buttered toast.


Click for Larger ViewMost hunters think of quail hunting when someone mentions wingshooting. Quail populations in recent years have been declining, but efforts are being made to restore the Colinus virginianus. A quality bird dog, sage and briar fields and an old friend who loves to hunt as much as you do will make this February sport fun for the man who braves the weather. Some overlooked quail hunting places may be wildlife management areas, especially where there are fields of small pines planted that haven’t obtained the height to shade-out the cover and the feed for the quail. Soybean fields and old cornfields also will provide good hunting for the man with a good dog. The sportsman who has neither a place to hunt or dogs may find a shooting preserve his best bet. Many southern quail-shooting preserves remain open until March. Dogs, transportation and birds to hunt are often as close as a phone call to a preserve. My personal favorite is Cameron’s Quail Preserve (, 205-455-2420, 205-455-2268

Click for Larger ViewQuail-Rice Magnifique
Our family loves to ride horses at Cameron’s Shooting Preserve in Panola, Ala., climbing off to shoot the quail that have been pointed by their fine bird dogs they train. And, nothing’s more delicious than eating quail.
4 quail, ready to cook
4 tablespoons butter
1/2-teaspoon salt
Dash black and red pepper
1 cup carrots, shredded
1/2-cup green onions, sliced
1/2-cup parsley, chopped
1 cup long-grain or brown rice, cooked
1 cup chicken broth
Dash Tabasco
2 slices bacon, quartered
Click for Larger ViewIn a skillet, brown the quail in the butter after liberally seasoning them with salt and pepper. Remove, and set aside. In the same skillet, cook the carrot, the onion and the parsley until tender, stirring frequently. Add cooked rice, and stir until well mixed; add chicken broth, salt, peppers and Tabasco. Pour mixture into greased oblong casserole dish, and top with quail. Place bacon slices atop each quail. Cover, and cook at 325 degrees F for 1 to 1-1/4-hours, or until tender. Remove bacon slices to serve. (This same recipe may be used with doves or chicken breasts).

Tomorrow: Hunting Raccoons and Opossums and Recipes for Roasted Raccoon and Possum and Sweet Potatoes

Check back each day this week for more about "Guide to Overlooked February Hunting "

Day 1: February Snipe Hunting and Recipe for Snipes Country Style
Day 2: Chasing Rabbits and a Recipe for Honeyed Rabbit
Day 3: February’s Woodcock and Quail Hunting and Recipes for Both
Day 4: Hunting Raccoons and Opossums and Recipes for Roasted Raccoon and Possum and Sweet Potatoes
Day 5: Wild Hog Hunting and a Recipe for Wild Pig Parmesan


Entry 599, Day 3