103, Day 5
ONE HUNDRED BASS A DAY
Other P-Arrow Lakes and Quail Hunting
NOTE: P-Arrow Plantation near Livingston, Alabama, has not only demonstrated
its ability to grow big bass and provide an opportunity for anglers to
catch large bass and large numbers of bass, the plantation also homes
an outstanding quail-hunting preserve. Today we'll take a look at how
Drayton Pruitt and his staff at P-Arrow insure quality fishing and quail
Phillips: Drayton, how do you know what the quality and
the condition of your bass are on a regular basis?
Pruitt: We have a fishery biologist who checks our ponds regularly. He
does electro-fishing sampling and not only keeps up with the number of
fish in the ponds but the size and quality of the fish. We've learned
that by intensively managing our lakes and intensively feeding our bass,
those fish will grow about 2 pounds per fish per year. To get this growth
rate, we not only provide crawfish for our bass to eat but also introduce
threadfin shad into the lakes deep enough to support them as well as tilapia
into the shallow lakes. The advantage to having tilapia in some of our
lakes is that in November and December when the bass really need more
food to put on weight for the upcoming spawn in the spring, the tilapia
are slow and easy to catch and offer the bass a good meal.
Phillips: What are your goals for the lakes at P-Arrow
Pruitt: I'd like to be able to grow a bass that would break the Alabama
largemouth state record and possibly grow a bass big enough that it would
break the world's record. I really believe that we may very well have
a new state-record bass in the Horseshoe Lake at my P-Arrow Plantation
right now. A large number of bass in the top 25 biggest bass caught in
Alabama were caught in the lake on the campus of the University of West
Alabama here in Livingston -- less than a mile from some of our lakes.
Too, we have the same soil types and terrain at P-Arrow Lakes that the
lake on the campus does. Because we intensively manage our bass, I believe
that we may very well break the state record for largemouth bass here
What are your plans now to continue to produce big bass in the future?
Pruitt: We have several small ponds on P-Arrow that we're going to use
as breeder ponds for the sole purpose of growing big bass to stock in
our trophy lakes. If we continue to put big bass into our lakes and the
bass keep on growing in the lakes, we can continue to have a trophy bass
fishery for many years to come.
Phillips: One of the unique aspects of P-Arrow is that
when guests come here in the fall, they have the option of either quail
hunting, bass fishing or having a quality experience of quail hunting
in the morning and bass fishing in the afternoon. Drayton, how long have
you been managing P-Arrow for quality bass and quail?
Pruitt: I've been managing and manipulating the habitat on P-Arrow Plantation
for more than 15 years to enable the land not only produce more coveys
of quails but bigger coveys of quail. We've planted hedgerows to provide
cover for the quail, we planted small grain crops for the quail to feed
on, and we put out feeders to supplement the other foods that grow naturally
on the plantation. By implementing this plan, we've developed a very strong
population of native birds. However, we also supplement the native population
by releasing one quail per acre during the summer before the migration
of hawks and owls from the North. Using this system, the released birds
have an opportunity to adapt themselves to the wild before the predators
arrive. We don't book many quail hunts so that we can ensure the same
quality of hunting that we now provide for our fisherman. Our quail hunters
can ride on a wagon pulled by two Belgium mules, or they can hunt on the
backs of Tennessee walking horses, the way Southerners once hunted many
years ago. I believe that our quail hunting is as fine as any you'll find
in the nation.
What have you learned since you've been managing quail at P-Arrow?
Pruitt: The most important thing that I've learned about quail management
is that it has to be site-specific. Many of the management techniques
that may work very effectively in other places don't ensure good quail
populations in our area. What I suggest to your readers if they want to
learn how to manage quail in the best possible way is to work with a wildlife
biologist who understands the specific needs of quail in a certain region.
General quail management practices aren't generally good for everywhere
in the nation. The more site-specific you can be, the more birds you can
produce and maintain. We not only want to have a lot of birds on our place;
we want to have hard-flying birds that will present a challenge to our
Phillips: How many coveys should a party of two people
expect to see in a morning hunt at P-Arrow?
Pruitt: The success of quail hunting depends on the weather. However,
if P-Arrow has good weather, I expect my hunters to find 10 to 15 coveys
with each covey having 12 to 25 birds in it. And the accuracy of the hunters
determines how many birds they take. We have a 10-quail limit per guest,
but then guests can take additional birds at a cost of $6 per bird. After
the quail hunt is over, the party can have lunch; then, if they go fishing
they can expect to catch 40 to 100 bass, with a few of those in the really
nice range. In the future, we plan to have a sporting-clay range and we
host several dove hunts during the fall.
more information on P-Arrow Plantation, you can write
P.O. Box 1037, Livingston, Al 35470; call (205) 652-7990 or (800) 949-7990;
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or, visit www.bitzandpieces.net