John's Journal...


Why Did Quail Populations Decline?

Click here to enlargeEDITOR’S NOTE: You can hunt quail as well as deer and turkey on your hunting lease or at your hunting club with very little investment and not much work. According to Dr. Bill Palmer, game bird specialist at Tall Timbers Research Station in Tallahassee, Florida, "Most outdoorsmen will be satisfied to go out with their buddies and a bird dog and find two to three coveys of quail in a half-day's hunt. Hunters can create this type of hunting ground on all kinds of forest land with minimal effort." This week, we’ll learn how to have more quail on the property where you hunt and the history behind why the quail populations across the U.S. have declined.

Click here to enlargeDr. Palmer explains that, “The primary factor that caused the bobwhite quail to decline in the Southeast was habitat change due to the lack of fires, the change of management on farm fields and the closing up of the forest canopies so that there was a reduction of ground cover. Quail depend on a mixture of grasses, weeds and shrubs for their habitat to have nesting, breeding and feeding.” In the early days, landowners burned their property as part of an annual land-management practice to control vermin, create more forage for animals, including cattle and eliminate insects. But then social, political and liability issues spurned the decrease of the use of fire in the woods. However, Palmer mentions that some states have Click here to enlargepassed legislation to provide for a landowner’s right to burn his property. “The primary benefit from a quail’s perspective of fire is that fire makes the upland pine habitat found in the South more suitable for quail by helping to control hardwood encroachment and to refresh the ground cover to produce more grasses and weeds that are beneficial for quail.”

Researchers have found that one of the best ways to bring back quail is if you plant small grain or clover for deer and turkey in green fields, don’t plow that green field under in the spring and plant a summer crop for wildlife. Instead, let the ground go fallow to allow the weeds to grow through the spring and the summer. Then you can come back in the fall and re-plant your green fields. But do keep the first three to five rows in your green field in weeds. Also, as mentioned earlier this week, guard against sweetgum growth. If sweetgums aren’t managed for three years, the tree can be virtually impossible to Click here to enlargeget rid of, even with fire. Even though fire will top-kill the sweetgums, the root system will continue to grow. You may have to cut down the sweetgums with chainsaws and then spray with herbicide to kill the root systems of the sweetgums.







Check back each day this week for more about HOW TO HAVE MORE QUAIL

Day 1 - You Can Have More Quail
Day 2 - What Quail Management Can Do for You
Day 3 - Why Did Quail Populations Decline?
Day 4 - What’s the Big Lie About Quail Management
Day 5 - How to Have No-Cost and Low-Cost Quail Management



Entry 288, Day 3