Next May, Trae will carry on the family tradition and buy a keepsake gun for his newborn when his wife gives birth to their first child.
For the Longs, hunting is more than a hobby. It’s their heritage.
Their father, Lee, began taking them along on hunts as soon as they could climb a deer stand. By age 6, they were learning how to shoot a gun.
“Ever since we were in elementary school, we have taken off the first day of deer season to go hunting,” said Hunter Long, now 28. “We always thought it should be a holiday.”
The Simpsonville family owns several hundred acres between Laurens and Newberry counties, where they hunt deer and turkey. But it’s wingshooting they look forward to most each fall.
“The sport hasn’t changed in 300 years,” said 26-year-old Trent Long. “It’s the last true gentlemen’s sport left.”
Once reserved for aristocrats, bird hunting conjures up images of English gentlemen in tweeds and caps walking through their country estates with pedigreed pointers in tow. In the Victorian era, it was as much a social event as a sport. British settlers brought the tradition to the South, where it has flourished ever since.
Today, some 50 clubs and resorts in the state offer wingshooting and sporting clays, making the sport accessible to more than just plantation gentry. Any huntsman with a shotgun and a mutt can scare up a covey of quail on public hunting lands and experience the thrill of bagging dinner.
Quail hunting season in South Carolina runs from the first of October through the end of March. Black's Wing and Clay Directory lists all of the wingshooting facilities in the state offering the sport. Along with private preserves, bird hunters can apply to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources for wildlife management area hunts conducted on a lottery basis.