Although the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission created its CURE (Cooperative Upland-habitat Restoration and Enhancement) program in 2000 and has had limited success, most areas aren't open to quail hunting. Unfortunately, almost no private lands have bobwhites any longer because of clean-farming practices and so many predators that are federally-protected.
And that leaves private preserves as the main places pointer and setter owners can go to work their dogs.
"We get a lot of guys who just want to run their dogs," said Dustin Renegar, son of Richard Renegar who, along with his brother Ralph, established Hunting Creek Preserves I and II in northern Iredell County in the Harmony community. "They won't accept guide fees because they're just happy to have a place to work their dogs. They don't have any other place where they can hunt (and have hunters shoot) quail, pheasants and chukars over their dogs."
Ralph Renegar said the preserve, which is called Hunting Creek Preserves I and II because North Carolina won't license hunting preserves larger than 1,000 acres, is a working 2,000-acre cattle and pig farm that the brothers want to preserve for their children.
"We don't want the entire area to turn into housing developments, either," Ralph Renegar said.
With classic foothills habitat, the brothers and their sons, along with several other employees, have planted corn, millet, milo and sorghum on tops of hills, sidehills and in creek bottoms.
All fields have excellent brush cover around the edges and only one semi-mowed path through the fields for hunters and handlers to walk.
"We've even got a couple of wild quail coveys, but we don't like to shoot the wild birds," said dog owner/guide David Collum.
The farm also has a sporting-clays course and a huge centrally-located clubhouse with a kitchen, banquet room and fireplace. Overnight accommodations are available as well.
Anyone interesting in upland bird hunting or sporting clays at Hunting Creek Preserve can call 704-546-5400. The address is 300 North Meadow Road, Harmony, N.C. 28634, or e-mail info@Huntingcreekpreserves1.com. Check the web site at www.huntingcreekpreserves1.com.