Deerfield Plantation, located near St. George, South Carolina, is one of the oldest and most successful deer- and hog-hunting operations in the Southeast. But when owner Hugh Walters calls to say the doves are in, all thoughts of big whitetails and giant wild boars are set aside—at least for an afternoon.
Duncan Grant, Brian Raley, and I headed to Deerfield last Saturday to join Walters, his grandson, Colson, and about 20 other hunters. Walters owns and leases more than 12,000 acres of forests, meadowlands, and swamps for his big game clients, but the dove hunting takes place right next to his rustic 5,000-square-foot lodge, a converted plantation house built in the 1800s. Walters and his staff had planted a 40-acre field with rows of sunflowers and corn—irresistible table fare for mourning doves.
The action commenced just after 3 p.m. when a lone dove topped the trees at the south end of the field. The bird ran a gauntlet of gunshots until it reached mid-field, then veered toward a cut in the treeline on the west end.
Duncan Grant was sitting a few feet from the cut when he noticed the dove flying high and hard right toward him. He quickly raised his 20-gauge Ugartechea side-by-side and folded the bird with a spectacular wingshot. It was his first of nine doves.
Brian Raley filled out a 12-bird limit with his vintage Browning Sweet Sixteen. At one point he killed five in a row, quite a feat considering how high and fast the doves were flying. I managed to drop eight doves with my 20-gauge Fausti Round Body over-and-under. Frankly, I’d rather not talk about the many birds that flew by me unnoticed, all within gun range.
Hugh Walters hunted only a couple hours with Colson, his 10-year-old grandson, who scratched down a handful of doves.
“He’s quite a shot, especially at such a young age,” said Walters. “The next day we went to a friend’s hunt where we could spend time in the field and Colson got his limit.”
Our Deerfield dove hunt was nothing like what shooters would encounter in Argentina. But it was a classic Carolina hunt, with more than enough birds to provide a variety of challenging shots and a chance to meet other hunters who share our passion for wingshooting.
Note: To book a white-tailed deer or hog hunt at Deerfield Plantation, call (843) 563-7927 or (800) 417-4868, or visit deerfieldplantation.net.