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67galaxie, Geo. Newbern, Ghostrider, GLS, HomelessjOe, Imperdix, SKB, spring, Stanton Hillis
Total Likes: 57
Original Post (Thread Starter)
#603416 09/25/2021 2:17 PM
by Stanton Hillis
Stanton Hillis
Yesterday I was on a corn combine right behind my house, as we approach the end of corn harvest next week. The field borders my yard on the south and west. I was parking the combine on the west side when I noticed movement on the ground near a brushy edge. It was a brood of adolescent bobs, with at least one adult leading them. They were roughly three-quarters grown. What a thrill to see 12-14 in a bunch so near my house. Last evening I was waiting on take-out plates for my wife and I, at a local restaurant, when the owner sat down with me briefly. He hunts deer on a portion of my farm. I mentioned seeing the quail to him and he related that just in the past few days he saw two different coveys, at opposite ends of one of my fields, while preparing food plots for deer.

That's three coveys within a few hundred yards of my house, on a 198 acre tract, and I am almost certain there are at least two more coveys within that tract. Am I hopeful for a "comeback"? No, chances are nil. But, it just thrills me to see these survivors that have adapted to the less than favorable habitat changes that modern farming practices with large equipment has brought about, the hordes of cattle egrets that prey on quail chicks, the turkeys who destroy nests, the fire ants, and the explosion in the number of small raptors like Cooper's hawks, etc. I can still hear them calling in the mornings, especially so in the spring. It's amazing how well the little "gentlemen" have resisted total decimation. They're now creatures of the woods, much more so than when I was still hunting them in the late eighties.

I leave crop residue all winter in the fields wherever feasible, which helps them somewhat. I occasionally burn hedgerows, but they have pretty much stuck it out due to their grit and toughness. My hat's off to you little brown bombers. It would be a wonderful thing to hear you calling early in the morning of my last day on this earth. May you outlast me by many, many years.
Liked Replies
by mel5141
mel5141
I Just let us learn on our own, or in my case continue to plod along in my ignorance.
My piddling experience on wild quail spans 62 years and Yes, continues today. I continue to put down Pointers and Setters multiple days a week for a 3 month season every late fall and winter.
I shoot Wild birds, by the way.
4 members like this
by spring
spring
Completely false, Frank. Some things you can't buy your way into.
3 members like this
by GLS
GLS
To say that quail have 'disappeared" or "lost" from Georgia is understandable when the statement comes from the vast pool of ignorance present in this thread by our resident expert on quail management and all things quail. Here are a half dozen wild quail Floyd and I took on public land in SW Ga. a few years ago. In a morning's hunt, we had 7 coveyrises of wild birds of which at least one rise was before we could get to our dogs. Gil

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]
3 members like this
by GLS
GLS
Before Europeans arrived in America, fire was used by humans to manage the pine forests in the Southeast. The practice was later adopted by the newly arrived farmers, but was discouraged as timber interests began to campaign against woods burning. In 1924 Herbert Stoddard endorsed the use of fire in the quail woods of the Red Hills of Georgia for both timber and quail management. His publication in 1931 "The Bobwhite Quail..." detailed his research. While Aldo Leopold is considered by many to be the father of wildlife management, he acknowledged later in life that it was Herbert Stoddard who was among the first of the game management pioneers because of his work in recognizing the importance of controlled burning in the wire grass and longleaf forests of SW Georgia. According to Leopold: "Herbert Stoddard, in Georgia, started the first management of wildlife based on research." The longleaf pine evolved to withstand and flourish after natural fires were caused by lightning strikes. Fire is critical for the survival of longleaf pines as it removes forest litter which impedes the growth of longleaf seedlings, removes fire intolerant competing pines and controls blight which can sicken the longleaf pine. Gil
2 members like this
by GLS
GLS
My late friend had an English Cocker that he used to retrieve downed quail. It rode on his jeep while his big EPs pointed the birds. We got behind his pointers and flushed the coveys, not his EC. His big pointers were steady to wing and shot and he used the Cocker to retrieve the birds that we downed. Some folks use Labs that also double as duck dogs. No one needs retrievers to hunt quail, nor do they need horses, dog handlers, nor mule drawn wagons, nor jeeps, but that's the way they want to do it. It really shouldn't give anyone else a problem how they prefer to hunt quail especially from those who draw their opinions based upon a vast pool of ignorance.
2 members like this
by SKB
SKB
Texas is still in the South, as is Georgia. You are not paying attention.

I think you will be "safer at home"
2 members like this
by spring
spring
Burn Day is always one of my favorite times in the year-long effort to manage for Gentleman Bob. Aside from being one of the cheapest efforts you can implement, it’s also the most effective.
All of my uplands are on 2-year burn cycles (switched from a 3-year cycle about 5-6 years ago). My forester and his team help us, and unlike a large state or federal tract, we are able to be very nimble on the specific timing of which burn day we select, an effort that considers the sap rising in the young hardwoods that we want to kill, humidity, wind, and how much things have started greening up. In general, we burn around the 3rd to the early part of the 4th week in March.

[Linked Image from hosting.photobucket.com]

[Linked Image from hosting.photobucket.com]

[Linked Image from hosting.photobucket.com]

[Linked Image from hosting.photobucket.com]

[Linked Image from hosting.photobucket.com]
2 members like this
by GLS
GLS
My hunting buddy and I run a string of Brittanys, two of his, and two of mine (The MuttPak), primarily for woodcock with an occasional bonus of wild quail. In a season we might run into 5 or 6 coveys which would be what folks in parts of TX and SW Ga. might find in an hour of hunting. We do what we can over the season assisted only by boot leather, shotguns and shells. But we do it on public land which we have hundreds of thousands of acres to chose from with no competition in the woodcock woods. Our Britts do a good job in all aspects of the hunt from finding, pointing, holding and retrieving. They're not high rollers like big running pointers or setters, but then neither are we, but we go 25-30 times a season and always look forward to the next. As Aldo Leopold wrote: “I cannot explain why a red rivulet is not a brook. Neither can I, by logical deduction, prove that a thicket without the potential roar of a covey of quail is only a thorny place. Yet every outdoorsman knows that this is true..." To that, I would add "to the roar of covey of quail" the twitter of a woodcock. Gil
2 members like this
by spring
spring
A few wild Georgia quail... Overwhelming preposterous to pontificate we don't have any, and even more so to be completely unaware of the famous quail plantations in our area and the work that Tall Timbers does.


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2 members like this
by mc
mc
Just returned from a south west az. Quail hunt all wild birds gambles quail bird numbers were down from last year but still a lot of quail lots of shots lots of misses
2 members like this
by Tyler
Tyler
Growing up here in West Al, there were at least 10 coveys within walking distance of our house. Last wild quail hunt for me was about 1984. My son has become interested in Turkey hunting and makes sure the pine plantations that now occupy the fields I once hunted are burned on a regular basis. Several wild coveys of quail have appeared over the last several years. Too precious to hunt but we are getting there. Just today, frustrated with email and internet issues at the mill, I went to check on the green fields planted just west of the Mill.My Tacoma flushed a covey of over a dozen wild quail.
There is still hope!
2 members like this
by coosa
coosa
I wouldn't claim to know what has caused the quail decline in the southeast, but my opinion is that it's habitat related. And habitat includes all the factors like invasive species such as coyotes and fire ants, and the switch to herbicides by the forestry industry.

We had quail in central AL when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s, but not in great numbers. I can remember finding maybe 2 coveys on a typical half day hunt. Our population was at it's highest in the late 70s when much of the forest land was clearcut and then site prepped with dozers. There were days back then when killing a limit of 10 birds in a day was a reasonable goal. When the pine trees got to about their 3rd year, that was the end of that tract being good quail habitat and for the most part it never was again. The next forest was site prepped with herbicides, and it wasn't as good for the quail.

Some things were the same as they are now, and we still had quail. We had fire ants for as long as I can remember, and the quail lived with them. There was very little agriculture in the area, but the quail still thrived. We hunted them, but that didn't affect the population.

But some things were different than today. Nobody site preps with dozers now. I'm looking to get 40 acres site prepped for planting longleaf this winter and I can't find anyone who still has a root rake. It's all done with herbicides, and I don't think that helps the quail.

I caught a coyote in a trap in 1980 and that was the first one I'd ever seen. Now they are everywhere and that's a change in the habitat. We definitely have more hawks these days, though there were some around in the 70s and the quail survived anyway.

I think all of these things work together to reduce the quail population. We still have some, and I hear them whistling in the summer, but I don't have enough to hunt them. I wouldn't have thought this would be true, but it doesn't seem that quail can thrive in small habitat areas of a few hundred acres. I can grow turkeys on my 400 acres, and actually have more of them than ever before. But quail seem to need a block of thousands of acres to do well. I have read this in research reports, and I have also experienced it trying to manage our land. They apparently move around a lot more than I expected.

The coyotes and hawks are not the only predators who have increased. The nest predators like coons and possums are a lot more abundant than they were back in the 70s. Stan wasn't the only one trying to catch and sell fur back then. I had 2 small kids and my wife didn't have a job, so the extra money I could make from trapping was very helpful. A couple of cats, an otter, and a big coon made this a very good day. Good hunting to all of you who still have quail to hunt!
[Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]
2 members like this
by spring
spring
Great post, Stan. Managing for wild birds is a year-round and very rewarding effort. Little victories are measured in things that most overlook, though clearly finding a new covey in a spot where you haven’t seen them before is the ultimate goal.
Several years ago working to improve habitat and implementing the recommendations of the experts became my passion. I’m anything but an expert, but if you follow the guidance that is out there, you can get the results that many think is out of reach.
On November 5th I’ll be hosting, along with the State’s top quail biologists, a Field Day on how to manage for Gentleman Bob, with details on much of the process. The State will be bringing in a tram from Ichauway Plantation as we carry people around to learn about things.
Again, I’m no expert, but am excited to be an example of someone that follows the ideas of those that are.
If you want quail, it can be done!
1 member likes this
by Stanton Hillis
Stanton Hillis
Originally Posted by 67galaxie
Nice! Maybe he will mix in some seed in the deer plots for them

Keith, he only plants wheat and oats in his plots, but after the season I leave them and let them head out and go to seed. It becomes a great place for the birds to forage and raise chicks. It's not harrowed under until September of the following year.

This is one of those plots, I named The Smokehouse...........because you can get meat there anytime. And, there's almost always a covey hanging out within a hundred yards or so of it.

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]
1 member likes this
by Joe Wood
Joe Wood
Though most of y’all live east of me we have an outstanding quail research project here in Texas. Dale Rollins , recently retired, has been the brains behind it and a colorful character. He is known to many of us as Mr Quail. Here is the link (full of great quail information) to the Rolling Plains Research Foundation:

https://www.quailresearch.org/

For what it’s worth, right now the upcoming quail season prospects in much of Texas appear to be poor to a little better. South Texas might be good to excellent. Big state!
1 member likes this
by GLS
GLS
To see hundreds of thousands of acres of private property managed for bobwhite quail, bring up Thomasville, GA and Tallahassee, FL on the same screen in Google Earth. Note the dearth of pivot irrigation or agricultural fields in a wide zone between the two cities. The appearance of this land from high altitude easily contrasts with the agricultural fields outside of the zone between the two cities. In over 600,000 acres between the two cities, the land looks different. Now zoom into one of the brownish areas that doesn't look like a forest. Get to about 400 feet. Note what appears to be a checkerboarding of the landscape. That's "blocking" wherein lanes are cut through the grasses that allow bird hunters to approach the dogs along clear lanes. The squares are typically 25x25 yards. The birds are in the squares of uncut taller grasses and shrubs. These are wild birds on a grand scale. These wealthy owners are not only stewards of the land, but also of wild quail. A "course" is a route that hunters on foot or horseback can cover in a half day or whatever the landowner desires. The courses are hunted not more than 4 times a season on many places to protect the wild coveys. Gil
1 member likes this
by GLS
GLS
For quail, while every little bit helps, it's not only what you do on your land that makes the difference, it's what your neighbor does, and what his neighbor does, and the same sequence repeated, over and over. That is what makes the Red Hills area so productive. Same can be said about the Albany, GA. area. Gil
1 member likes this
by GLS
GLS
Those are Labrador retrievers, not Labrador flushers. The pointing dogs are on the ground and the retrievers ride in the wagon and are released once the birds hit the ground.
1 member likes this
by spring
spring
Originally Posted by GLS
To see hundreds of thousands of acres of private property managed for bobwhite quail, bring up Thomasville, GA and Tallahassee, FL on the same screen in Google Earth. Note the dearth of pivot irrigation or agricultural fields in a wide zone between the two cities. The appearance of this land from high altitude easily contrasts with the agricultural fields outside of the zone between the two cities. In over 600,000 acres between the two cities, the land looks different. Now zoom into one of the brownish areas that doesn't look like a forest. Get to about 400 feet. Note what appears to be a checkerboarding of the landscape. That's "blocking" wherein lanes are cut through the grasses that allow bird hunters to approach the dogs along clear lanes. The squares are typically 25x25 yards. The birds are in the squares of uncut taller grasses and shrubs. These are wild birds on a grand scale. These wealthy owners are not only stewards of the land, but also of wild quail. A "course" is a route that hunters on foot or horseback can cover in a half day or whatever the landowner desires. The courses are hunted not more than 4 times a season on many places to protect the wild coveys. Gil

Here's a video, Gil, that I'm sure you've seen but I always enjoy watching again. It was done by a real estate group in Thomasville and filmed on Pinehaven Plantation, which is barely into Florida just south of Thomasville. I've hunted on Pinehaven twice; it's a special place.

1 member likes this
by spring
spring
Predators of a variety of types can be a threat to quail. Avian predators are a threat to adult birds while nest predators, such a racoons, opossums, armadillos, and bobcats are also very harmful. The path for a bird to hatch and then make it to adulthood is a perilous one.
No doubt some quail managers put a lot of effort into predator control, and I've done some of that, too, but as we know, predators have been around for as long as quail have, so there must be something else that's in play here. In the opinion of most, the change that has been been introduced that is most negatively impactful on quail populations is simply the loss of habitat. You're not going to see quail in cities, in monogamous pine tree plantings, in large irrigated row crop fields, in bahia grass planted for cattle, in timber tracts with a high basal count with little ground cover, or smaller isolated tracts that cannot handle the weather variations needed to sustain a population.
Wisely managed quail properties have 3 key components, and when you eliminate one or more of them, things don't' work. You need nesting cover, you need food, and you need escape cover. While predator control can be beneficial if done on a large and consistent basis, in many cases you simply open up the avenue for expansion of a different species when you remove a competitor. Most people do not have the time or resources to do this on the scale needed. Hence, the answer that I think is a better management target and solution is to simply have the needed cover in place where predators can't so easily have a free lunch.
There's a reason that pen-raised quail only live for a few days at most after being released and that wild birds can continue to flourish on a wisely managed tract. One is wary and one is not, and in addition, one knows where to hide while the other stands out in the open and says, "What is that fast creature flying up overhead?"
Predator control is nice, but habitat management is better.
1 member likes this
by Bob Jurewicz
Bob Jurewicz
I was a co-owner in a 2350 acre ranch is West Texas until about 2 1/2 years ago. Four -Five years ago, we would have 30-50 coveys of pointed Bobs a day. About nine or ten years ago we had a wild fire that consumed 3/4 of the ranch. It was scary looking at the sand desert after the fire. It came back beautifully and produced some of the best quail years we ever had. The last few years have not been too good for quail in W Texas. Most of the blame rest with weather conditions and rain at the right times. Habitat changes little in Cowboy Country. I'm looking forward to what this year will bring as I limitedly hunt on friend's ground.
Bob Jurewicz
1 member likes this
by Hal
Hal
Homeless they are not burning "the woods'. They are burning the understory that supports most of the other plants and animals.
1 member likes this
by keith
keith
I can recall putting up some coveys of quail when I was pretty young, but they are nothing but a memory these days in virtually all of Pennsylvania. I never got to shoot any, and never tasted one. Considering the great difficulty of re-establishing ringneck pheasants and the continuing decline of grouse and turkey numbers, I don't hold out much hope of hunting them in this state in my lifetime... unless I stoop to paying to shoot pen raised birds.

https://www.pgc.pa.gov/Wildlife/WildlifeSpecies/Pages/Northern-Bobwhite-Quail.aspx

My area is still largely agricultural and rural, and the farms range from modern, to abandoned, to Amish Dutch, where draft horses are still used to till the soil, and fence rows and other cover is still abundant. Grass fires still happen with regularity when we have dry weather in the spring or fall. I know I have lamented the crash of our ringneck pheasant population, and blamed much of that on the Game Commissions' mis-Management decision to permit shooting hens. But the one other big change that I feel has contributed to the crash of wild game bird populations is the protection of hawks and other raptors, and the introduction of the Eastern Coyote. I've seen most of the blame placed on clean farming, herbicides, and habitat loss. But it is obviously a combination of factors, and the Game Biologists seem very reluctant to even mention the role they themselves played by protecting these predators as if they were on the verge of extinction.

After I Brush Hog my field, I'll often have up to a dozen or more hawks circling overhead to hunt prey in the cut weeds. And it seems like just about every power line has a Red-Tailed Hawk perched on it. I don't think it would hurt the present game bird situation to thin the herd of predators, including feral cats. When I shot two coyote pups in my driveway in the spring, my only regret was that I wasn't able to cycle the bolt on my .22 rifle fast enough to put a bullet in a couple more before they got into the weeds.
1 member likes this
by Hal
Hal
Always good to hear about prescribed burns. I have done at least 50 in mixed grass prairie on my place, and helped with many more. Best and easiest is for two guys to do a surround burn, starting at the most leeward corner and let the backing fire go up the edges till we meet and the plot is surrounded by fire. Then to save time headfire the rest. The need for fancy firebreaks is minimal and we usually just use wheeltracks to compress the grass, always making sure there are no escapes behind us as we move upwind on both sides at the windeard corner. All we carry is a flapper and a fire rake to spread fire forward. Of course we use roads, moist ravines, plowed ground, etc. to make the job even easier. I would never attempt this technique in tallgrass prairie or any place with woody vegetation along the edges. To burn out a cattail infested wetland surrounded by cropland all you need is a Bic lighter. Sure wish more cattlemen would improve their pastures with an occasional burn. And we have thousands of acres of public land where Kentucky bluegrass and introuced weeds have shaded out the native prairie plants vital to so many species. Too bad so many agencies are saddled with unneeded safety regulations they can't get much done. Don't get me started!
1 member likes this
by spring
spring
Unlike your neighbors in Tennessee, we don't have to bring them back as they never left. Of course Ames Plantation has to use released birds in order to host their championship. That's actually a very sad occurrence as the best dogs from around Georgia work on wild birds and the whole released bird thing to determine a champion is a relatively weak alternative. That's why The Continental, a true wild bird championship, is actually a more highly regarded title for the guys that have the best dogs.
Stunning the ignorance you display every time you post, Frank.
1 member likes this
by GLS
GLS
I spoke this week with a friend whose plantation he manages is near Tall Timbers. Three radio collared birds are on his place nesting having crossed over from TT. He won't start blocking until they are through nesting which would be soon. Apparently they are re-nesters as the earlier nests were most likely raided by snakes--pine, rat, etc. If it had been a cottonmouth, the hens would have been taken by the snake as well. Gil
1 member likes this
by spring
spring
Something missed by the board's resident mOron:



[Linked Image from i.pinimg.com]
1 member likes this
by GLS
GLS
Originally Posted by Stanton Hillis
Originally Posted by GLS
To say that quail have 'disappeared" or "lost" from Georgia is understandable when the statement comes from the vast pool of ignorance present in this thread by our resident expert on quail management and all things quail.

Yep, that is ridiculous beyond the extreme. I regularly see wild bobs during the day, as I go about my farm work.

During spring gobbler season I hear a lot of quail whistling in the morning. I get a kick out of whistling them up. Gil
1 member likes this
by spring
spring
Originally Posted by GLS
Originally Posted by spring
I. You also soon realize that without a full court press on predators, the impact can be marginal since what you take out can be replaced somewhat soon as the void is filled.
And sometimes that isn't enough. The book, Coyotes of the South, reported that game biologists conducted a study at the Savannah River Plant (known locally as the "bomb plant") wherein intervaginal transmitters were inserted into pregnant does so that biologists could home in quickly to the site of birth to determine fawn survival at birth. There were extensive losses due to coyotes as established by DNA analysis on the fawn remains. Over 500 coyotes were removed from the area of study. After the removal, the rate of fawn predation pretty much remained the same as other coyotes quickly moved into the area.
To lessen the impact of predation on quail, food plots have been deemphasized and periodic broadcasting of food trails are common on some plantations to spread out the birds to keep them from concentrating on food plots which also concentrated predators. Perhaps that is part of your of your management as well. Gil


It's interesting how there has been a pretty significant sea-change in the opinion about the need for food plots on actively managed plantations. For the most part, they are now a thing of the past, with discing and year-round feeding taking their place. Discing is easier, cheaper, and more nutritious for quail as the weeds that come up harbor bugs, which are full of protein and great for both young and mature birds. Discing is also a way to reduce habitat after nesting is over and helps somewhat concentrate the birds. Ragweed, for example, is great habitat during the summer, but when fall arrives and it loses its foliage, it has little value. Discing it under, which also replants it for the next spring, can help move birds into other areas. Most of your large plantations are now reducing habitat by about 20% before the season, which is how they end up with something around 2 birds/acre.
FWIW, I eliminated food plots about 6 or 7 years ago (used to plant milo and occasionally some oat strips through the pines), and just redirected that effort into year-round feedings on 2-week intervals. Amazing the difference it has made in bird numbers.
You do still see some places planting pretty food plots for quail, but much of that is on commercial spots that are concerned with aesthetics.


Here are examples of what we don’t do anymore. I certainly can’t say that they didn’t have benefit, but whatever we may have gotten wasn’t worth the costs or anywhere nearly as effective as just running feed lines throughout the year.

[Linked Image from hosting.photobucket.com]

[Linked Image from hosting.photobucket.com]
1 member likes this
by GLS
GLS
Originally Posted by spring
I. You also soon realize that without a full court press on predators, the impact can be marginal since what you take out can be replaced somewhat soon as the void is filled.
And sometimes that isn't enough. The book, Coyotes of the South, reported that game biologists conducted a study at the Savannah River Plant (known locally as the "bomb plant") wherein intervaginal transmitters were inserted into pregnant does so that biologists could home in quickly to the site of birth to determine fawn survival at birth. There were extensive losses due to coyotes as established by DNA analysis on the fawn remains. Over 500 coyotes were removed from the area of study. After the removal, the rate of fawn predation pretty much remained the same as other coyotes quickly moved into the area.
To lessen the impact of predation on quail, food plots have been deemphasized and periodic broadcasting of food trails are common on some plantations to spread out the birds to keep them from concentrating on food plots which also concentrated predators. Perhaps that is part of your of your management as well. Gil
1 member likes this
by Hal
Hal
Great cover on Tall Timbers annual report I got yesterday. Shows an intern torching off the understory of a research plot in longleaf pine-wiregrass forests near Thomasville, GA. The plots have been receiving prescribed burns at different frequencies since 2005 where much data on plant and animal response has been collected. Tall Timbers is all for the bobs!
1 member likes this
by btdtst
btdtst
Corn and soy bean harvests are mostly finished in this area. In speaking with the farmers that collectively have harvested well over 10,000 acres they have reported seeing zero pheasants and only one covey of quail. This from six different counties so it covers a fairly wide spread area which would help rule out small localized weather effects. Until fairly recently this area of Kansas has always had excellent (some years phenomenal) quail and pheasant hunting. I spend a lot of time driving the rural roads and cannot remember the last time we saw any birds. Rather depressing.
1 member likes this
by mel5141
mel5141
Just glanced back at this site as I noticed a private message notification. Seems to have gotten pretty far afield from Mr. H's original salute to my favorite upland quarry.
In reading the thread in its entirety, I notice several mentions of fire as a tool in land management.
I am one of the strongest proponents of burning in my area. I began a controlled burn program on this ranch in the late 80's, and it continues to the present . Burn plans are already fully formulated for a Feb-Mar 2022 series of burns here.
Under my normal rotation each of multiple segments of the property is burned once every 6 years
Our prescriptions are somewhat different than those applied to Longleaf Pine stands in the Southeast. Our goals are similar though.
1 member likes this
by spring
spring
Originally Posted by Tyler
Growing up here in West Al, there were at least 10 coveys within walking distance of our house. Last wild quail hunt for me was about 1984. My son has become interested in Turkey hunting and makes sure the pine plantations that now occupy the fields I once hunted are burned on a regular basis. Several wild coveys of quail have appeared over the last several years. Too precious to hunt but we are getting there. Just today, frustrated with email and internet issues at the mill, I went to check on the green fields planted just west of the Mill.My Tacoma flushed a covey of over a dozen wild quail.
There is still hope!


I love finding a covey in new place, especially after working to improve the habitat and essentially "setting the table" for them. Little victories like that are definitely a huge motivating factor in efforts to bring them back.

We've found two very young broods over the past week; probably about 10 days to 2 weeks old. Fortunately the weather is still pleasant and they should make it just fine. My son's dog actually caught one of the young birds when they were riding around a couple of days ago. Of course the young birds can't fly far or fast, which makes them very vulnerable to predators at this age. The little bird got away and we hope it will be OK.

I'll be listening for some of the fall covey calls over the weekend. For quail, it's a busy and import time of year.
1 member likes this
by spring
spring
I was talking to a nearby 25,000 acre plantation owner yesterday that has followed the guidelines of Tall Timbers and their biologist, Clay Sisson, in particular, for 22 years. Even with an outstanding bird population on his place, he said that his covey count is up 50% in the last 3 years, an improvement oddly enough, he attributes to Hurricane Michael in October of 2018. As most know, a low basal area, particularly to around 40, has been determined by Tall Timbers to substantially improve ground cover and quail habitat. Most of the research shows that improvement stops below that point. Anyway, the hurricane took out loads of pine trees (among many others in the area), and while not enjoyable to experience or clean up, it did inadvertently improve a lot of quail habitat in the subsequent nesting seasons.

I've worked with Clay Sisson some through the years as well. Interestingly he was at my farm about a year ago to see how a cattle pasture conversion to quail habitat was going that I did it on an addition about 7 years ago. It has been super successful. Anyway, Clay was advising a fellow in North Florida that had recently purchased a large cattle ranch near Tallahassee and wanted to see how we had killed all of the Bahia and tropical Bermuda grasses. He and all off the Tall Timbers resources have been invaluable to so many that want to see Gentleman Bob at his best. It's great to see how they are now expanding their footprints into SC and TX, and even advising some in California on how to avoid their annual wildfires.

Tall Timbers book, "Tall Timbers’ Bobwhite Quail Management Handbook" has been my full game plan since it came out.

FWIW, burned on the left in 2021; burned on the right in 2020:
[Linked Image from images2.imgbox.com]
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by Hal
Hal
Good to hear about the cattle. Grasslands worldwide evolved with fire and grazing. Not continuous, but cyclical as when herds large and small seek out and graze areas that have recently burned and bypass the areas waiting for the next lightning fire. The Komarek brothers from Tall Timbers showed the high correlation between the distribution of North American grasslands and areas with high lightning frequency. The study is a landmark in fire ecology. Now we know the same principals apply to huge areas in the western United States including mountain forests, chaparral, sagebrush, and pinyon juniper. Here on the northern prairies, grasslands or wetlands (basically wet grasslands) suffer the Smokey Bear Syndrome just as those habitats, with the affliction most severe on public lands, some with few large herbivores of any type, native or domesticated.
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by coosa
coosa
Hal, I think that buffalo were very plentiful in the Blackbelt until sometime in the 18th century. The Creeks and the Chickasaw tribes controlled the land through that time and the accounts I've read mentioned them using the robes and other products they got from them. Of course, there were whitetails and elk too. It is still great land for whitetails and people buy some of the tracts for no purpose except hunting them.

Both tribes developed close trading relationships with the English traders during that time, and they wiped the deer out of much of the Blackbelt by the time of the American revolution. The elk and buffalo were both completely gone by then.

I have read more than one account that said that the tribes of the 18th century did their burning in late winter and early spring, the same time that it's usually done now. I don't suppose anyone really knows about the ones that were before them, as they seem to have been a completely different people group

I have a forester friend who does a lot of summer burns under the big pines to eliminate the hardwood competition. It seems to be very effective at eliminating the sweetgums that try to dominate the understory in our pine forests. Quail really benefit from these type of burns.
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