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Thread: Got your quail W-2?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Default Got your quail W-2?

    Another year has come and gone and soon another quail season with it. The W-2's have arrived and it gets a guy thinking if a refund is coming or if Uncle Sam is going to ask for more. Well, quail managers are also doing the math for the season, trying to decide if good investments were made, if sufficient savings have been held back. It's all about the math!

    I'm sure by now that you are wondering just what PD is talking about. It all boils down to bird population math. I drove by a pickup on the area today 3 times trying to catch up with the hunters that occupied it. Never happened to get them tracked down, but it got me to thinking about the effects of their trip. Many times this season we have all enjoyed the pictures and videos of successful hunts and the pile of birds on the tailgate, dog box, farm implement, or stone post. Unfortunately, too many of us use the size of that pile as the primary measurement of that success. Problems arrive when our success this season affects our productivity for next season. When you talk about public land, all too often the math doesn't add up.

    In general, quail populations can be harvested to the tune of 40-60% without affecting next year's population. Where your land falls within that range is affected my many variables. However, as we get into late season, the birds we harvest may well be costing us population potential next season. Early in the season our harvest is often considered compensatory. That means that the birds we are taking home would have not made it to next years' breeding season anyway. Later in the season the math changes. Once that last compensatory bird is harvested, we're in the red. Every bird after that bird may well remove an entire covey from next season's population. This is called additive mortality. On public land I think we're into additive mortality some time late in November or early December most years. These late season hunts, though satisfying to the soul, may well deepen the deficit of next season's bird numbers. It's hard on wildlife managers to have the habitat perfect for quail production, have weather that is conducive for production, yet not be able to achieve a robust population because not enough breeding birds are there to fill that habitat. Quail are density dependent breeders, producing more or larger broods in response to low populations, but they may well not be able to overcome such a large deficit.

    The same conditions might occur on private land too. This can happen from a single group making too many trips and taking too many birds, or it could be from a number of groups that don't account for the other groups' harvest. On some well managed private holdings, birds are estimated preseason and a number is set for the annual harvest. Once that number has been taken, the season is closed. This is much harder to do in a public ground setting. WIHA is susceptible too, but often isn't held to the same parameters. Why? Many of the WIHA tracts are smaller and the population is buffered by more lightly hunted adjoining ground. Quail, by nature, are not the best public land birds. They are much less mobile than pheasants and, being "gentleman bob", are often more susceptible to the gun. Add to that the protection we give pheasant hens and their more polygamous nature, and pheasants are a much better bird for public situations.

    There are many ways sportsmen try to control their harvest. The best is mentioned above and involves setting a harvest goal based on population surveys and sticking to it. Another is when hunters often don't shoot into smaller coveys. This is often most successful in preventing environmental and predatory death within that day, not overharvest. Again, math is in order. Suppose you have a population of 36 quail in 3-12 bird coveys. If you were to never shoot into a covey of 8 or less birds, it is feasible with daily recombination of coveys that you would end the season with only one covey of 8 birds. That's a harvest of almost 78%.

    Tax season is upon us! Time to take stock of where we are and where we want to be. Hopefully, we didn't over-spend our limited quail budget this season and saved a nest-egg for the coming year. So too, it is time to plan investments like prescribed burns, disked strips, grazing, and other projects that might stack the deck for a successful breeding season to come.
    Last edited by Prairie Drifter; 01-30-2018 at 08:47 AM.
    Trust the dog!

    Troy Smith

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    Northern Michigan
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    Well said PD
    River - 2 yr old English Setter
    http://gundogcentral.com/view_pedigr...&generations=5
    Bella - 4 yr old Brittany
    http://gundogcentral.com/view_pedigr...&generations=5
    Ellie - 5 yr old Yellow Lab
    Jazi - 12/30/2005 -- 10/13/2017
    Kaci - 3/23/01 - -10/8/15

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Thanks Tom. Was starting to think I had been typing in tongues! .........Unless you can read tongues!
    Trust the dog!

    Troy Smith

  4. #4
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    When I talk to landowners about their woods I would refer to their woodlot as a "wood bank". Through management you have your principle, desired conditions, and then cut your growth periodically or interest. When done properly you won't cut more then you grow so you always have that principal for sustainability. This does not apply to clearcuts....lol. I think for species that both male and females are taken, states need to look at the late seasons into January bad just when that threshold is crossed to additive mortality. Indiana had a late season for grouse and I truly believe that along with poor habitat has resulted in the closure of their grouse season. Fine line we as managers and hunters have to walk to continue to have good populations.
    River - 2 yr old English Setter
    http://gundogcentral.com/view_pedigr...&generations=5
    Bella - 4 yr old Brittany
    http://gundogcentral.com/view_pedigr...&generations=5
    Ellie - 5 yr old Yellow Lab
    Jazi - 12/30/2005 -- 10/13/2017
    Kaci - 3/23/01 - -10/8/15

  5. #5
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    Cunningham, Kansas
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    Well said. Unfortunately, many of our game species are now forced to live in marginal habitats and the added stressors that we put on them can cause the population to pass the tipping point, leaving nothing but the exit. Where quail have a life expectancy of around 9 months, it's not like you can stockpile them. Also, where everything under the sun wants to eat them or their eggs, the balance shifts like feathers in the wind. In looking at many of our areas, their acreage is too limited, too many are centered on riparian corridors that lend themselves to plant succession advancing rapidly past the productive threshold of bobwhite, and too often they are located too closely to large urban populations. That may function well for the human users, but it functions against the game populations that reside there. Add to that the neighbors not managing their properties well and the sinc of off-area birds is limited and ingress/egress often won't offset overharvest. Unfortunately, it's not all them either. We've survived on miniscule budgets and manpower for as long as the area has existed and the price of getting those acres back in a low successional plant community would cost more than the purchase of new acres already in that stage if we were to use mechanical means. It may be time to go off the grid and use other methods to revert the plant base. I plan on trying that next August. Should be a good experiment!
    Trust the dog!

    Troy Smith

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    central california
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    Something I thought about everyday on my trip, even wondering about additive verses compensatory take. I hope I did right while I was there with only shooting covey rises and taking only one double, the weather was taxing enough for the birds while I was there. I started late everyday and ended early and hope that I had minimal impact while still enjoying myself and harvesting mine, Lady, and JP's first bobwhite quail.
    "The happiest man is he who learns from nature the lesson of worship"

    -Ralph Waldo Emerson

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Cunningham, Kansas
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    On a short trip, hard to make much of an impact on a landscape scale for sure. However, areas with limited permanent habitat or limited quality habitat are susceptible. So too are areas with limited acreages and high pressure. In Texas, where for miles and miles it's all quail habitat, probably less of a problem. In parts of Kansas where most of the habitat is linear and limited to riparian corridors that are largely dominated by high plant succession, maybe more of a problem.
    Trust the dog!

    Troy Smith

  8. #8
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    Nov 2013
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    Northern Michigan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prairie Drifter View Post
    Well said. Unfortunately, many of our game species are now forced to live in marginal habitats and the added stressors that we put on them can cause the population to pass the tipping point, leaving nothing but the exit. Where quail have a life expectancy of around 9 months, it's not like you can stockpile them. Also, where everything under the sun wants to eat them or their eggs, the balance shifts like feathers in the wind. In looking at many of our areas, their acreage is too limited, too many are centered on riparian corridors that lend themselves to plant succession advancing rapidly past the productive threshold of bobwhite, and too often they are located too closely to large urban populations. That may function well for the human users, but it functions against the game populations that reside there. Add to that the neighbors not managing their properties well and the sinc of off-area birds is limited and ingress/egress often won't offset overharvest. Unfortunately, it's not all them either. We've survived on miniscule budgets and manpower for as long as the area has existed and the price of getting those acres back in a low successional plant community would cost more than the purchase of new acres already in that stage if we were to use mechanical means. It may be time to go off the grid and use other methods to revert the plant base. I plan on trying that next August. Should be a good experiment!
    So what are you other methods?
    River - 2 yr old English Setter
    http://gundogcentral.com/view_pedigr...&generations=5
    Bella - 4 yr old Brittany
    http://gundogcentral.com/view_pedigr...&generations=5
    Ellie - 5 yr old Yellow Lab
    Jazi - 12/30/2005 -- 10/13/2017
    Kaci - 3/23/01 - -10/8/15

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Cunningham, Kansas
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    Herbicide.
    Trust the dog!

    Troy Smith

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