Classic southern quail hunting is perhaps the most romanticized and tradition-steeped activity in all the outdoor sporting world. It is also one that has largely disappeared, at least for the majority of us. But a new museum exhibit in Florida offers a glimpse into a world most of us could only read about in the pages of Field & Stream.

From this story on WCTV News:
_The Knott House was built in 1843 and restored to the period when the W. V. Knott Family moved there in 1928. One family member, Charlie Knott, loved to hunt and much of his hunting gear and memorabilia remain in the collection. It is from this collection that the new exhibit, Quest for Quail: A Tallahassee Hunting Tradition, has emerged. “Hunting plantations are part of the history of Tallahassee and the surrounding area,” said Secretary of State Dawn K. Roberts. “I am pleased the exhibit at the Knott House Museum will help us understand the influence they had on the social and economical issues at the time.” The exhibit opens on Thursday, November 4, 2010, and extends through March 5, 2011.
_Quest for Quail explores the history and tradition of quail hunting in north Florida, where many hunting plantations continue to thrive in our current society. Wealthy northerners started traveling to north Florida beginning in the late 1800s to hunt quail. Eventually, many of them bought land and established winter homes in the area. The local agricultural presence provided habitats and food for the birds. The economy and the social scene began to change due to the arrival of the people with money to spend. International aristocrats such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and American heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post visited plantations in north Florida. The main event was quite elaborate with groups of hunters, watchers, and helpers spending hours in the hunting fields. The finest linen and china were brought along to set up fancy picnics for the guests such as those arranged by Charlie Knott. Dogs accompanied the hunters and worked in groups of two to be replaced by other dogs before getting too tired.

Kevin McGorty, Director of the Tall Timbers Land Conservancy (TTLC), a division of Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy, will discuss north Florida’s hunting plantations and traditions at the opening. Since 1958, Tall Timbers has been a wildlife research station, specializing in the study of fire ecology. In 1990, it created a land conservancy which has saved over 100,000 acres, making it one of the largest in the South. Bobwhite quail still thrive at Tall Timbers and in other parts of the Red Hills area.

_Reading Ruark, Babcock, Ford, Rutledge, Dickey and their ilk was the closest I ever came to one of those putting-on-the-dog southern quail hunts. We don’t have “Gentleman Bob” out in western Oklahoma, we’re stuck with “Tricky SOB Bob” so I’d love to see some of the artifacts from that bygone era. What about you? Has anyone ever experienced a quail hunt that involved place-settings of china?