What makes good quail habitat

Bryan Casto

New member
Im just curious what types of habitat do you believe will hold quail on a property. I started raising quail last year. Was thinking about rasing some for release on my own property, but wanted to make habitat improvements so they would hold on the property and make it through hunting season. I know the statistics and probability of birds surving through winter, let alone breeding and having population is unrealistic. It would be more of a stocking program so the I have a place to hunt close.
 

quail hound

Moderator
Berry briars and rose thickets sprinkled with some weedy fence lines, edge feathered trees and a nice weedy food plot for good measure would be a good start.:coolpics:
 

Bryan Casto

New member
habitat

I have plenty of berry vines and thickets. The property is very thick. and should have good cover so predators cant take a huge toll on them, at least not till late winter. I have some fields that im thinkin of planting what is a good crop for them.
 

oldandnew

New member
If your shooting for sustained reproduction, it's a complicated battle! If your goal is for a put and take, where birds will hang around, and more or less recall, if not harvested, I would advise a johnny house operation to acclimate birds, a call bird to keep 'em rounded up, call bird can be electronic on a timer, or the real enchilada. Once you get the birds aclimated and foraging, in the available habitat, which should include millet, ragweed, foxtail, milo. Provide a disced area as Uguide said, and you will get ragweed, the rest you can broadcast. Let the weeds go and the more the merrier, diversity and open dusty ground under a leafy canopy. Natural reproduction is the hard part,nesting and brood cover and percentages of each, also takes a lot of ground to raise a significant number of birds.
 

Bryan Casto

New member
Im not looking for sustained reproduction. More looking for a put and take operation. I wanna release the birds at 6 weeks old or so, and that way when season comes in they will be full grown and more like wild birds. Hopefully More challenging than put and take. Id like as many hold over birds as possible to make it through winter. West Viriginia isnt very open and i have some fields but alot of brush and open timber. If you could only plant a crop or two that would hold and provide forage for birds in Nov, december, Jan. What would you plant. Also could u elaborate on the concept of a Johny House. is it more less a pin with a few birds just to call birds back in. thank you this is all very helpful
 

mnmthunting

Banned
I'm thinking unless your into some dedicated predator control [which is advisable] You should get your quail older, more like 2 months.
Otherwise good advice here on the disking and weed habitat.:thumbsup:
 

oldandnew

New member
Im not looking for sustained reproduction. More looking for a put and take operation. I wanna release the birds at 6 weeks old or so, and that way when season comes in they will be full grown and more like wild birds. Hopefully More challenging than put and take. Id like as many hold over birds as possible to make it through winter. West Viriginia isnt very open and i have some fields but alot of brush and open timber. If you could only plant a crop or two that would hold and provide forage for birds in Nov, december, Jan. What would you plant. Also could u elaborate on the concept of a Johny House. is it more less a pin with a few birds just to call birds back in. thank you this is all very helpful

A johnny house is built along the lines of an outdoor toilet,hence the name. Should be 4x4 square and at least 6foot tall,8 is better. Has a recall funnel at the base, you keep feed and water in it for the birds, use a double hardware cloth bottom, 1/4 or 1/2 inch square. !/4 if your using young birds, at the top, use hardware cloth to fence off about a foot around the top, under the roof, inside the top edge you need a shelf for the birds to fly up to where they can look out and call the release birds, a trap door next along the top next to one of the sides allows for release of about 1/2 the birds at a time to allow them to become acclimated. Best to use 12 week old birds, if you use younger, they will be susseptable to chill. Scenario you describe as a release of six week old birds will be a predator shootout at the O.K. Corral, and you had better be Wyatt Earp, with Doc Holiday as your wingman! Your still going to lose birds, and at a certain time of the spring they are going to pair up and disappear. Everybodies do! Summer you start over. I have had late summer birds which bred, hatched, and reared chicks, in the johnny house. I would use any indigenous annual, which provides canopy, preffered seed with open understory. That pretty much decribes ragweed if you can find it or encourage the seed bank. I feed mealworms, and the same weed seeds that they will find when scrounging on their own. The mealworms, crickets, whatever, will provide oil in the feathers,to ward off chills, and soaking, the flight up to the observation deck, inside the box will strengthen the wings and cause them to fly stronger and with some altitude. Good Luck.
 

Live2Hunt

New member
The Missouri Dept of Conservation has a PDF file that is very helpful in explaining habitat and management of Bobwhite Quail

http://mdc4.mdc.mo.gov/Documents/259.pdf

If you Goggle that link above and open the PDF titled


On the Edge: A Guide to Managing Land for Bobwhite Quail



I think you will find a wealth of information.
 

jaytee

New member
I'd say if you can only plant two crops I'd be inclined to go with milo and millet. Not sure about your area but around here if you run a disc over some ground you'll get plenty of ragweed and foxtail with both are very good. RW is quails number one food source. And you'll need plenty of bare ground and shrubby cover like wild plum thickets and sumac thickets, ect. Blackberry is very good and even the dreaded multi-flora rose provides pretty good cover.
 

1GB

New member
It's good you have the shrubby cover, but quail also need more open ground that allows them to navigate easily through it. Running a disc is the easiest solution IMO. Before I had a disc I used a mower at proper times of the year to promote the forbs over the CSGs. Keep it a mosaic though - quail should always be within easy escape into shrubby cover.

Here is a blog I love periodically checking for habitat improvement ideas:
http://mdc.mo.gov/blogs/more-quail

The MDC also has a "Covey Headquarters" newsletter (also posted online - Google it) that comes out 4 times per year and has great information.

The NBIC is also packed with good information and has a few blogs worth reading:
http://www.bringbackbobwhites.org/

Lastly I'll say that my interest has been focused on making pheasants habitat improvements on my small parcel simply because I think it has a better chance of success (we still have a few wild pheasants around - the quail that used to be here haven't been around in at least 15-16 years). I did have 5 escapees from training one year in September and heard them calling into November.

It then surprised the heck out me when my dog flushed the tiny covey of 4 in March! They lasted a heck of a lot longer than I thought they would considering the prairie tigers, hawks, and owls. And they were all within ~5 acres on a regular basis that's about 20% shrubbery, 15% food plot, and 65% early successional growth with a variety of forbs/grasses, with the key IMO being that these elements are scattered about the entire area rather than in separate blocks. of distinct cover.

Then they all left and I learned about the spring shuffle. :( I still consider it an achievement that they lasted as long as they did.
 

Bryan Casto

New member
quail

I started raising quail last year and raised about 200 this fall, for training and more less a trial run for next year. Things went smoothly with these first birds so i can raise them to whatever age i want. I raised the birds this fall from chick to full grown and they were very gamey and flight conditioned well. Im a licensed game farm and plan on raising 500 to 1000 next releasing 200-300 on my families 210 acres. I was saying six weeks because that is what a local game farm said is the best age to release at because they will adjust to fending for themselves much quicker and easier. Glad to hear other opinions that what im hear to get more informed about. I assume 6 weeks would work well if they are released earlier in the year when the cover is thick and will have time to survive. Predators arent as big a problem here as it may be else where even though im sure some would end to that fate.
 

Live2Hunt

New member
1GB thanks for that link to NBIC. They have some good information there. But now I am slightly confused.
If I am reading this correctly NBIC does not feel a surrogator program is helpful to wild Bob Whites.
But I have read where others have used the program with some success in carry over to the Spring. :confused:

Bryan obviously it will be a while before you can comment on your families farm as far as released Quail, but do you have any feed back on released quail being around the following Spring?
 

Bryan Casto

New member
quail

I know that on the preserve i hunt and guide at you will find quail year round, so some do make it through the winter and they seem to stick around better than the pheasants. A estimate or figure on how many survive i really cant give ya. I have heard alot of a spring shuffle when the birds pair up and move. I just know u can still find some leftover quail in the spring where i hunt.
 

1GB

New member
1GB thanks for that link to NBIC. They have some good information there. But now I am slightly confused.
If I am reading this correctly NBIC does not feel a surrogator program is helpful to wild Bob Whites.
But I have read where others have used the program with some success in carry over to the Spring. :confused:
The very first portion of the Fall 2011 Covey Headquarters newsletter specifically addressed this topic:
http://mdc.mo.gov/sites/default/files/resources/2011/08/covey_fall11.pdf
 

Live2Hunt

New member
Thank you Bryan for the reply.

1GB, I read that entire PDF you posted the link to. Thanks for that. I knew that the Missouri DNR has done an extensive amount of research on the Bob White. They put the research together nicely so a layman can understand it.
 

jaytee

New member
Quail Forever recently concluded a study on the various "surrogator" programs out there and found that the success rate is dismal at best. Pretty much a total waste of time and money, both of which would be better spent on improving habitat and or public education.
 
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