The Black River Plantation

An easy drive of a little over an hour from Jacksonville, NC sits a place among the Loblolly pines called Black River Plantation. It is run by a man that has been successful in Shooting Dog field trials and has a kennel full of dogs, but welcomes you to bring your own. His name is Wendell Evans, and he enjoys conversations about all things Bird dog.

It was a crisp, cold morning that found us waiting at the local gas station for Wendell to link up with us and lead the way into the plantation. A short drive down the dirt driveway and you arrive under a canopy of pines and on the bank of the Black River.

Habitat at Black River Plantation
Habitat at Black River Plantation

After some pleasantries and “getting to know you” conversations, the birds are planted and we get the dogs ready, grab the guns and head out for our hunt.

The people on this hunt range in experience from having been on a lot of quail to one guy on his first quail hunt. The dogs are my six year old LLewellin Setter named Cash and a three year old Pudelpointer named Indy, that belongs to my friend, Ryan.

The dogs were released and to say that they were enthusiastic would be an understatement. After a quick couple of minutes, the dogs are on the birds. I stayed with Cash, and the new guy and Ryan went with Indy and our last partner.

As the conversation was beginning, Cash goes on point. As we move up I am informed that this is my partner’s first time hunting Quail. So naturally it was his shot. After a rapid flush, the shot broke and the bird kept flying. No big deal, because as the dog was returning from a short chase he went on point again. This was my shot and after the flush my trusty 28 gauge knocked the bird to the ground. A mediocre retrieve and the bird is in the bag.

After that bird, we group up again and Indy goes on point. Ryan moves in for a flush and takes the shot. The bird falls to the ground and Indy retrieves enthusiastically. This is a landmark bird, this bird is the first taken over one of Indy’s points not in a training situation. To say that Ryan and I are elated is an understatement. High-fives all around and we are off again.

After a retrieve
After a retrieve

The birds at Black River held tight for the dogs, but as you move in they flushed strong and fast. These were some of the best birds that I have hunted on a preserve in North Carolina and Florida.

After we start walking again there are more points and shots made and missed.The shooting also began to improve from the group. The action came quick and the dogs really made some nice points and retrieves.This continued for a couple of hours. Then it was time for a break.

During the break we talked to Wendell about his dogs and his experiences with running a preserve and field trials. He then introduces us to a dog that doesn’t match his setters, a young English Cocker.

Gracie the English Cocker Spaniel
Gracie the English Cocker Spaniel

This little girl is true to the breed. Energetic, retrieves enthusiastically for a seven month old pup and extremely friendly and loving. She is being trained to flush and retrieve on hunts with the field trial dogs. I am going to go and watch this one day and let you know what I learn about this combination.

Our break is over and we step off to see if we can find some of the birds that we missed earlier.The dogs are a little tired and the time is getting short for us. Family commitments for the afternoon are going to make this one a short leg.

We cover the ground that we think might have some birds, and the dogs find us two more. After flushes that do not present any shots we go after them again. We follow the dogs to where we think they landed and can’t seem to find them. After relocating about thirty yards, Cash goes on point. We get a flush and no shot, but this bird would not be around for another flush. He moved out to the really thick cover on the edge and we didn’t go after him. We did end up putting at least one more in the bag.

As we make our way to the trucks, we all start talking about our time in the field on this day and start trying to figure out when we are coming back to the Black River Plantation.

I hope you enjoyed this day in the field as much as we did on the ground. Hopefully we can take you along on a few more trips soon and share more points.

Ripsnorter's Indiana Jones (Indy) on point
Ripsnorter’s Indiana Jones (Indy) on point

So if you are looking for a place to go and have great day among the pines with a host whose hospitality is first rate, the Black River Plantation is a place that should be on your short list.


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