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  #1  
Old 01-29-2012, 02:21 PM
oldandnew oldandnew is offline
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Default New theory for quail

I have a new variation on the quail recovery theory. I suggest that due to the current high cost of traditional farm ground. The reluctance of mainstream farmers to sacrifice any portion of ground for wildlife enhancement we should revisit some history, and look at alternatives. In most of our lives, we have had quail in numbers on the margins of farmland. Currently, quail populations are strongest in areas of Kansas,Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, areas which in the heyday of quail hunting were considered marginal areas because of the dependence on annual rainfall. Traditionally, quail hunting was a sport of the open pineywoods, cut over timberland, and homesteaded farms returning to the forest. Many a covey was found in or near open oak forest when I started out in the 1960's. What if we focus on that premise, start to look to the Ozark highlands for quail recovery? It seems to me clear cut pine and oak areas are ideal starting points for quail recovery, seeded with bundleflower, native grasses, croton, ragweed, burned in a rotation, like the old days, it would be sustainable. Even if we allow for timber regrowth,we could get probably 10 good years out of each area. because land is cheaper in the ozarks, the soil thinner, allowing for more overstory of plants and less density at the root, ability to benefit from regrowth of shrubs, existing escape cover. It seems like it might be an easier fix than we are currently attempting, on farmable ground. To make any headway on farmable ground, will require a pendulum swing not currently in the cards. The Ozarks, largely unfarmable, resulting in fewer chemicals,herbicides, and pesticides, thin soils, open understory, might be a place to focus. I would appreciate input, anyone hunting this area now, or managing for birds in this enviorment, or with ideas or reasons why it may or may not work. I'm currently searching real estate listings for a likely test farm. I see no reason this doesn't work in areas of the Oklahoma Ouchita'a , the Arkansas Ozarks as well. I remember in the 1970's some of the best quail hunting was in eastern Tennessee, when Bowater paper company managed their pine plantations this way.

Last edited by oldandnew; 01-29-2012 at 02:25 PM.
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Old 01-29-2012, 08:14 PM
jimmy j jimmy j is offline
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Oldandnew, I still have a few quail where I have either crp,cp33,grownup fencerows and food plots. But I feel your idea might be good. There is one in Dent county, White River Trace CA, which is run by the Mo. Conservation Commission and is managed expecially for quail and is in the Ozark area. Might want to go look at it and or contact them at 573-368-2225. Having your own land would be much better as you can do what you want and if isnt working try something else. Iam a corn, soybean farmer but consider myself a fair upland bird hunter too and try to have both good crops and quail too but it is hard as most of my neighbors have went to mostly clean farming with no where for the quail to be. So even though my land hasnt changed much all the land around it has.
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Old 01-29-2012, 08:28 PM
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White River Trace is one of the quail emphasis areas. I've hunted it at least 2-3 times a year for the last 4 years. Lots of pressure on it. Birds have got scarcer each of the last 4 years. A good bet is to get in the drawings for Cover Prairie and can't think of the other area outside West Plains. They draw for a limited number of hunts on each of the area. Both places hold good bird numbers. I didn't get a draw for this year and last year I got drawn but the days i had the choice of, i was in Kansas and I didn't get to use it.
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Old 01-31-2012, 12:38 AM
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Oklahoma’s Ouchita'a Mountains is some beautiful scenery, comparable to that of the blue ridge mountain parkway scenery. It’s been a few years since I have been over that way. If my memory is correct our US Forest folks have banned the clear-cutting harvesting practices for hardwood and pines. Recolonization of the black bear from Arkansas into regions of the Ouachita Mountains of southeastern Oklahoma began in the 1980s. The first black bear season in Oklahoma was 2009. I’m sure that habitat improvements for a Quail recovery project would meet some strong resistance.

Another limiting factor would be that the National Park system is part of the Department of the Interior. The National Forests are controlled by the Department of Agriculture. Getting two agenceies in this government to agree would take some political pull.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in for trying something new in hopes of getting a foot hold in replenishing bob white populations. Just wanted to share some potential show stoppers.
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Old 02-07-2012, 06:17 PM
jaytee jaytee is offline
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Hey old, when you say Ozarks region, are you talking in areas like Texas, Shannon, Howell counties or most any county south of say I-44? I think your idea has merit and might make for a good study for a college student with assistance from the MDC or Quail Forever or Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation. How big of an area are you looking to "study"?
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Old 02-07-2012, 08:23 PM
oldandnew oldandnew is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaytee View Post
Hey old, when you say Ozarks region, are you talking in areas like Texas, Shannon, Howell counties or most any county south of say I-44? I think your idea has merit and might make for a good study for a college student with assistance from the MDC or Quail Forever or Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation. How big of an area are you looking to "study"?
If it comes down to what I can afford to buy, it will need to 400 A or less, but current research would lead one to believe that a 2500-5000 acre area would be better. Ideally it would have been recently clear cut or selectively logged at least to get a start on first stage regrowth. Goal then would be to manage to keep the growth at predominantly that stage. Lots of annual weeds and forbs, some shrubby regrowth, a few groves of pines and oak.
Those counties would be good in that the traditional shortleaf pine forested areas lend themselves to that managemnent, with prescribed burns and discing. Anything over 400 acres is going to be a long project unless we can enlist an army of workers. Since I posed the theory, I have done some research and found the pine/bluestem project in Arkansas which is in about the 4th year, and attempting with success to do the same. Also an article in the " Covey Rise", I got a couple of days ago, states the case for forest management as being a place we can make a difference with quail numbers, and not "rock" the boat of the commercial management.
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Old 03-31-2012, 12:32 AM
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I'd love to see it as I grew up in Howell County. As a kid, I don't ever recall thinking about good or bad hatches, we just hunted after our work was done and always shot limits.

While that area wasn't known for it's quail population, we had 17 coveys on 540 acres. And could find quail anywhere on the nearly endless places we were allowed to hunt. Then we did something that destroyed the quail. All of them. We had no idea it would hurt the populations, but it nearly took out every single quail. Unfortunately all our neighbors and their neighbors did the same thing. The result....no quail.

Here's what happened. That area is poor farm ground and therefore it has poor farmers and poor people. All of us in that area raised cattle since the ground is too rough and to thin for row crops. The problem we had was that it is/was poor grazing and poor hay ground as well.

The solution to the problem? Fescue! Yes, we took out the wild meadows, got rid of the oats, lespedeza, logged the mature trees, and quit growing sargo. The answer to all our problems was fescue. It could be grazed, hayed, didn't have to be burned, and was/is nearly impossible to kill. The results were amazing, suddenly we could put more cattle on the land which produced more money. The folks in that area would gladly trade quail for more money, so more fescue was planted. It literally changed the economic structure in the Ozarks.

Today, much of the problem still exists. Folks in that area are still poor, they still work in town, and have cattle on their small farms to supplement their income. What has changed is the size of the farms. Many of the older family members have died and farms have been divided among the kids or purchased by people from larger cities. Most of these people just want their land to be green and don't graze or cut the grass. The fescue grows tall, chokes out the weeds, is pretty, mows well, and makes a pretty good lawn (yup K31).

Here's the point. That area from a weather standpoint would make a fantastic test bed. But I don't know who would have the funds to buy 10,000 - 20,000 acres, spend $100 - $120 per acre to remove the fescue, cut the sprouts, sew native grass, and keep the locals off the land in order to make it work. I literally can't think of a field that doesn't have fescue in it. Even the MDC properties planted to Big Blue Steam have fescue underneath.

While this area may seem to be an easier fix, I'm not sure it's a cheaper or easier. Yes the land is cheaper (much cheaper), but let's not forget that the Ozarks are ground zero for Sereca Lespedza as well as fescue. Sereca is is just as hard to kill as fescue and is almost as bad for wildlife. Unfortunately it was actually planted by the MDC and is currently listed as a noxious weed in KS. In addition, rocks eat equipment, and predators go completely unchecked as they can easily find protection in the woods.

Do we hear quail whistling there anymore? Once in a great, great while we happen on to a place that has a bird or two whistling. It's as rare there now as deer were in the 60's. The birds live in the woods and feed mostly off acorns. Amazingly, I know where two coveys are and their two of the same coveys I hunted 40 years go. Now when I drive buy in April or May, I stop my truck, turn it off, roll down the window, and listen. I always wonder and hope they made it though one more year.

Damn, I miss those days.

Good luck to anybody that gets the project off the ground. From a weather standpoint, it would be nearly perfect year in and year out.

Point!
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Old 03-31-2012, 04:49 PM
jimmy j jimmy j is offline
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Yes fescue is one of the worst things for almost all wildlife!! I remember sowing some in ditches and waterways in the 60s to help hold them from washing, which it did hold them, but we didnt sow any more and almost all non-worked ground went to fescue from the seed blowing everywhere. It chocks out almost everything else and is even harder to kill. The cattle, if not handled right, would almost starve to death at certain times of the year on fescue. About the only good place for fescue is in a mowed yard that is never let to have seed. Does make a pretty yard grass but all in all not much good for other stuff.
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Old 05-01-2012, 01:04 PM
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Point is right......Fescue and Bermuda!
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