just a thought to bring upland birds to the public

BRD11 I've been searching this forum for other quail/pheasant hunters from MO (for now). I have had an idea to bring more quail to more quail hunters for some time and would like to share these thoughts with this fold of members.

I have been a former member of QU & QF and quit because of the lack of participation I saw within the chapters. These are great organizations if you are trying to raise money, but was not as impressed with the results of putting more quail in the field for ,US, the quail hunting public that must rely on hunting public lands to hunt and find birds. MO has 21 quail emphasis areas - I will refer to as QEA (public conservation areas with an emphasis in quail and quail habitat). I have hunted numerous QEA I have experienced pretty much the same thing in all these areas - lots of walking with few quail sightings/encounters. The habitat looks like it should hold more birds, but few are found.

I propose that we obtain the permission from the Missouri Dept of Conservation (MDC) to have a trail period of say 5 years to introduce pen raised birds a single QEA. The idea is to see what reaction we can get as far as participation from quail hunters to hunt these QEA with some degree of finding quail. I'm from SW MO so Bois d Arc conservation area (CA) would be a likely candidate. We would need to create a chapter much like QU or QF to raise money to buy quail to be released at this CA. This chapter could hopefully assist the MDC with other habitat projects on this CA site. Bois d Arc could stand to have much more ground disturbed by row crops, plum thickets, warm season grasses, etc - diversity. The internet says that 1 quail per 1 to 2 acres is good quail density. As a chapter I would like to see the 1 bird per acre being implemented. Bois d Arc CA has approx 3200 acres. Let's say they have 2000 acres in quail habitat. We would target the release of 2000 quail on the CA over the 10 week season or 200 quail per week each week. The birds would be banded (different band for each group of 200 quail) so by the end of the season one would know if the bird they shot was from week one or week 5, 7 or 10. We would also learn whether quail from week 1 would covey up with quail from week 3, 7 or other - study the survival skills from these pen raised bird.

Quail hunters hunting this CA would have special restrictions such as parties of 4 max, number of shells per hunter allowed, check-in and out to gather the data from their hunt, etc. The end result being whether or not this is a viable way to pursue quail and quail hunting of the future, provide a quality quail hunting experience to the quail and/or pheasant hunting public. Pheasants could be introduced as well for I am an Iowa native and have experienced great hunting in southern Iowa and KS in the 60s and 70s and 80s where I have encountered both quail and pheasants. I believe we could generate a real destination for hunters that would not have to travel to SD or Montana or the likes to enjoy pheasant and quail hunting locally. If this is popular enough the other CAs could follow the same recipe in their areas.

I have hunted South Dakota (SD) and had an awesome couple days of hunting - on leased ground. Our group of 13 hunters limited out in approx 2 to 3 hours. The birds were as wild as any I have ever hunted, but I was dumbfounded as to how the land owner was able to obtain this quantity/quality of these birds? I have also hunted Walk-in-Hunting ground (WIH) in KS and SD. Again you will walk miles for a single covey or pheasant siting. I'm no spring chicken anymore - just can't walk the miles I used to, but still vividly remember hunting pheasants and quail in Iowa and KS and bagging 57 roosters with 20 guys near West Union, IA in the 70s. Our group of 10 limited out by 9:00am and came upon another group of 10 guys hunting full sections of corn and beans. They needed more hunters and we joined them for one of the most awesome pheasant hunts of my life - albeit private ground.

Southern IA in the 60s and 70s were similar in the sense that as a youngster with my single shot .410 bagged I bagged my first quail only because I had no shortage of opportunities to see LOTS of quail and we didn't even hunt with a dog.

I would love to bring these opportunities to others by starting a chapter with like minded pheasant/quail hunters to CA within our state. What would the economic impact be for the state if each CA in the state could offer this hunting experience? These CA already have the habitat (could be better with some tweeks) - all they need are the birds!

I'm sure if the MDC were to read this they would have a cow. They have already shown us that habitat by itself is not the answer. How are there trout to catch in all the springs? Hatcheries. Hatcheries also raise pheasants and quail. Let's create a chapter that is truly for putting quail and pheasants for the PUBLIC to hunt.

Just looking for feedback from you and like minded hunters.
 

Winchester30

Active member
You would need some proven research on the survival and success rates of introducing pen-raised birds into the wild.
I read recently (Project Upland) that the survival rates for pen-raised pheasants was less than 10% by six months.
You would likely need some state certification also so you are not introducing diseased or unhealthy birds into the wild.
 

lonejackfool

New member
about 8 years ago, i heard that if you want MDC (missouri dept. of conservation), and other government agencies to make changes, then go to the CFM (conservation federation of missouri) annual meeting in jefferson city, and sit in on the "upland resource committee". after you learn how it works, you can present your own ideas, and if accepted, MDC, corps of engineers, and USDA agencies will respond in writing.
the annual meeting is this weekend. it doesnt cost much to join and attend. there are several committees, and the MDC department heads, as well as field staff usually attend. if you speak up before learning the process, or without hard facts, be prepared for "gotcha" responses. these agencies aren't interested in rocking the boat, making changes, taking on more work, staffing up, or spending the agencies money. i urge anyone that gives a damn about upland hunting, drop what your doing this weekend, and try to attend. the website has all the details.

as far as the MDC starting a state run game preserve, this sounds like outdoor writer larry dabblemont's idea a few years ago. i think he proposed doing the same thing on the thousands of acres of corps of engineers land around truman lake. i doubt it will gain any traction, because the MDC's answer to this is the "dog training permit", which allows you to possess pen birds to turn out on your own land. its a cheap permit, and you can hunt a few hours in the morning and be back on the couch before lunch. the downside is you have to raise or buy birds and keep them healthy.

oh yea. this was the worst year ever for me hunting missouri quail and pheasants in the areas that i'm able to hunt. i'm 2 hours from any fair population of quail, 2 1/2 hours from any pheasant.
 

Quailnerd

Member
Guys look up the Rolling plains quail research ranch. This is a well funded private group of people with research and habitat at the center. They have done numerous relocation projects to previously good quail country. Radio collared quail are monitored during all stages of life. I admire your ideas and wish you the best, but with all the tools at there disposal it is a extremely difficult task. Dale Rollins heads the ranch and has a great podcast on the work they do, if your a nerd like me it’s a good listen
 

lonejackfool

New member
i also have followed the RPQR for years. they believe rain makes habitat, which make quail. that doesn't work in missouri. they believe eye worms are a major problem that is fixable. MDC does not. they believe transplanting/restocking quail works. MDC does not.

MDC did do their own capture and gps collar study in Ozark Quail Hunter's bois d'arc conservation area, called the Southwest Study over 4 or 5 years. they won't release the whole study to the public, just a general summary. 60 birds collared and tracked at 6 sites each year. mortality of mature quail was really high from avian predators throughout spring. nesting percentage was low, nesting success was worse. renesting after a successful first nest, or after a failed nest was pretty much non existent. the old theory that quail could produce multiple hatches in a single year to repopulate themselves proved to be not true for sw missouri.

i want quail back, but i can't go along with MDC's stance that its a lack of habitat, and its up to the landowner. sure we've lost a bunch of habitat, but that could be helped with easier to implement programs. predators are completely out of controlled, but that could be helped with modern furbearer regulations, and better fur marketing options. i'm fairly certain the chemical companies don't give a damn that they've destroyed most of the quality habitat, and beneficial insects, without doing any scientific studies on the side effects of modern clean farming. i'm not against farmers making a buck, i'm against the chemical companies getting free reign without any repercussions or oversight.

to me its always been a scientific problem. why can't quail (where they still exist) reproduce well enough to repopulate themselves. its easy to say" loss of habitat" and 18 other reasons that we aren't allowed to question, study, or change, throw your hands up, then sit back and watch them disappear. its much harder pinpoint exactly why quail can't repopulate themselves right now, attempt to make change to one of the 18 reasons at a time, just to see if maybe it works.

of course here in my area of missouri you can also throw in reason 19 fescue toxicity.

this topic is depressing, and probably won't ever be fixed. maybe Ozark Quail Hunter is right. the trout hatchery model seems to work for the MDC. hell 1.7 million trout released every season. those would be fair odds for the less than 20,000 of us quail hunters left. is my math right, thats 85 quail for each of us. hope i can get some sleep after this rant. too dumb to quit. i like watching my dog hunt
 

Quailnerd

Member
Damn man don’t have a stroke, just sharing some info. Every region has the issues, if chasing birds is that high on the life list move!
 
I appreciate the comments/thoughts. As far as the mortality of pen raised birds goes - the intent is not so much to turn them wild and hope they propagate - that is VERY unlikely. I'm proposing that as a chapter we could purchase enough birds per season to have a pretty decent hunt on these CA. I'm sure there would be a need for plenty of regulations for I could see a good demand for such a place to hunt. Also all the purchased or raised birds would be released every few days throughout the season not all released at once. As a chapter we could assist the MDC hopefully with manpower for the release of these birds and/or better their habitat, prescribed burns etc. The big picture would be that there would be many chapters of this type statewide working on their local CA and collectively it could have a huge economic impact for the state much that South Dakota has with pheasants. Hopefully there would be many opportunities to hunt quail and pheasants statewide using this model - for the individuals that just don't have the connections to hunt private land. The MDC trout program would be basically the same model we would use for quail and pheasant.

I love watching my German Shorthair work. She points more rabbits and mice than quail because that is about all there is for her to point. Once I get my house built I would like to invite all of you that are interested to a jam session and see where we can go with this.
 

lonejackfool

New member
a stroke? maybe thats what is wrong with me. i think its more frustration that we used to have great quail populations, now their gone, and i just don't see any urgency in trying to bring them back. how silly of me to be passionate about something so unimportant in the grand scheme of things.
 
I agree - frustration because it is something we have little to no control of. That is why I am pursuing the avenue I am because there is a chance that we may have some control of the destiny of something I think we all have in common; watching the dogs working/casting, solid points and the other dogs backing the point. One of my favorite memories was my Shorthair retrieving a down bird but stopping way shy of me to go on point with a bird in her mouth! That was a Kodak moment!!! I have hunted my share of game preserves too. Not all are created equal - some had quail that were darn close to wild in the way they flushed/flew. Others would loop around and try to land on your barrel - not so cool.

Again I'm looking for other like minded quail/pheasant hunters that would like to see if we can make this scheme work on ONE MDC Quail Emphasis Area and see where that takes us. Hopefully we can all have a great time enjoying the hunt while creating a comradery that is equally enjoyable.
 

lonejackfool

New member
Ozark, good luck trying to gain support. i never seem to get any backing for my ideas thru the local qf. all i have ever asked for is that the MDC do their own scientific studies on quail, not rely on, or cite studies from other states. my ideas were all life cycle, breeding, nesting, hatch, brooding, predators, disease, parasites, and insect availability. in short what's killing the quail we have left, and what's stopping them from mating and producing broods that survive.

quail survive better in the desert than here. why is that: food, water, cover, lack of parasites, lack of disease, or maybe much less predation.

the SW study was supposedly to compare quail in traditional modern cropland against native grassland areas. it was a good idea, and had great MDC staff running it, but in my opinion it stopped short of identifying exactly what killed the mature birds, and exactly what was predating the nests. modern video and cameras could have easily monitored the collared birds, and show exactly what was destroying nests. thus providing actual proof that could then be acted on. i do know that the MDC used our local QF chapter as a partner to pay for the study, whatever that means. according to MDC adding cameras to the study cost way too much, and showed the predators right where the nests where. approaching a local university to supply labor to monitor the cameras was out of the question.

again, i would look up the CFM conference and attend this weekend just for practice, and check into larry dabblemont's idea. i will help and support your idea as it evolves, but you're 2 1/2 hours away

getting a bunch of quail hunters together is not easy. we're too private. its born into us not to share our best places.

there, i tried pecking this out without any rage or anger. stroke no, conniption maybe. :giggle:
 
Jack - I would say you did quite well. I know exactly what you mean about the rage and anger (pretty much why I am no longer with QU or QF). I have found that many people are willing to their money into something they believe in, but don't ask for time or commitment of any sort - ain't gonna happen. The fact that you are the only individual giving me the time of day speaks volumes for the group we have here. I have read numerous short articles by Larry D. I can't say I remember him saying anything along this line though. How hard is it to contact the guy these days. I'd like to talk to him and hear his ideas as well.

Much of what you said above has been documented (elsewhere like you said). I can only wish there were some magic way of bringing quail and pheasants back to the good old days. I can vividly remember that there were wooly fence rows and corn pickers that left about as much grain on the ground as what they harvested, hedge rows that you couldn't walk through - much of those things are gone. Habitat is key, but you can't have a spatter here and there. In the 60's that was the way ALL the farms were. The current farmers fields are many times the size they used to be and their practices are way more efficient than they used to be. Good luck getting permission to hunt anything on these farms - you'd have better luck winning the lottery. I'm gonna pursue best I can until things peter out - could be sooner than later.

Thanks again for the input.
 
You would need some proven research on the survival and success rates of introducing pen-raised birds into the wild.
I read recently (Project Upland) that the survival rates for pen-raised pheasants was less than 10% by six months.
You would likely need some state certification also so you are not introducing diseased or unhealthy birds into the wild.
Greetings Win30,
My intent is not the long term survival of the quail. Quail are near the bottom of the food chain - thus survival is not that great even for wild birds. The big picture is that ideally we would have numerous chapters that serve a particular Quail Emphasis Area in MO. In my case Bois d Arc Conservation Area (CA). These chapters would raise money to buy pen raised birds that would be dispersed through the course of the hunting season on that particular CA. Personally I would like X birds release each week for 10 weeks. The bottom line is that these CA NOW have quail to hunt on them where currently you find few birds. The hunting would also be open to the public whereas there is so little private ground the public has access to hunt. Depending on the success of such an event would require regulations similar to the numerous public waterfowl hunting CA throughout the state. The reason for banding the birds is to track the harvest and see the survival of these released birds. It would be amazing to see a bird released the first week of the season survive until the last week or better the following season. You would know when these banded birds are released and harvested.

I would just like to get the opportunity to do such a project on 1 CA for 4 or 5 years to gauge the interest, logistics, etc of such an endeavor. It would take a group of like minded individuals to pull off such an event. It would really be great to get the MDC to raise the quail and pheasants while the chapters provide much of the funds to purchase these birds plus flight pens, man power, etc. The added bonus would be the potential overall economic impact this could have on our state if this were successful state wide.

Your thoughts?
 

Winchester30

Active member
Here in WI, the state releases pheasants on some of the public grounds. I live near one of the larger release sites. I hunt and train there often and throughout the year. In my experience and observation, I have yet to see a pheasant survive there past the hunting season. I have seen a few in the vicinity after hunting season, but who knows for how long.
We also coyote hunt 1000 acres on a farm who also leases land to a stocked pheasant hunt club and I never see any survivors after the season there, either.
Your idea sounds fine for a put and take hunt, but I would doubt that you would do anything for the overall survival of the breed. Once word gets out about the quail, hunters will storm those areas and the quail will all be gone in no time.
Might want to find someone with some private land to try this on as another option too. Have a small invite group that can self regulate and manage the land.
Or attempt your quail stocking plan on an area closed to hunting for a year or two to see if the birds breed and survive.
 

Hutcho

Member
I'm late to this conversation but definitely interested. I'm not too far from bois d'arc(down around Neosho), me and my shorthair hunted it this year with no luck at all. I envy all the older guys that got to enjoy quail in the good ol days, at 36 I'm fortunate to have seen a few good years on our family farm before the numbers disappeared. I am very interested in this project and would be in to help out wherever needed. I'm the president of our local QF chapter(spring river chapter) and I totally understand how difficult it can be to get support for just about anything, in fact if it weren't for a handful of us this chapter would probably be shut down after the covid nightmare. Anyways, I think you have a long road ahead of you on this idea, but you gotta start somewhere. I don't get on this forum very often but if you want to send a pm I can get you my number.
 
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