Saving the quail.... is it possible?

Moose

Administrator
Staff member
Contributor
I see over in Tennessee they are having a fight over removing some old growth forest in the name of saving the quail or at least restoring habitat.
I know years ago NCWRC did the cure program around Caswell where I was in a club at the time. Prior to them doing that I would see quail on occasion a few years into the program and I never saw or heard a quail. Based on that I'm not sure saving the quail in the south is possible.

I see both sides of the argument not sure what the answer is..... in general I don't think our forests get managed correctly

 

surveyor

Twelve Pointer
I got a burgeoning quail population, but it took converting a lot of deer woods into "not easy to hunt deer" area to do it.

c'est la vie, which is french for, "This quail tastes good."
 

agsnchunt

Ten Pointer
I see over in Tennessee they are having a fight over removing some old growth forest in the name of saving the quail or at least restoring habitat.
I know years ago NCWRC did the cure program around Caswell where I was in a club at the time. Prior to them doing that I would see quail on occasion a few years into the program and I never saw or heard a quail. Based on that I'm not sure saving the quail in the south is possible.

I see both sides of the argument not sure what the answer is..... in general I don't think our forests get managed correctly


Seems like we have adequate pine plantations in NC to create plenty of habitat.
 

darkthirty

Old Mossy Horns
Based on that I'm not sure saving the quail in the south is possible.




Oh it’s 110% possible and there are tracts private land that I know of in SC, GA and Ala that have wild quail populations that are actually higher than they were back in the “hay day” of bobwhites. Covey find averages anywhere from 7-10 per hour. Intense habitat management (fire, Basal area thinning), intense predator removal (365 days/year trapping) and most importantly, bottomless pockets funding it.
 

Crappie_Hunter

Twelve Pointer
Contributor
Back in the early 2000's hunted private land in Anson county. We had a ton of quail. Then all of the sudden over a span of a couple years they just vanished. We didn't change anything we did, and the habitat didn't change, so I assume it was more predators or disease or something maybe?? I agree in general that our public lands could be managed differently, I'm not sure if it would make a difference in the quail population at this point.
 

agsnchunt

Ten Pointer
most importantly, bottomless pockets funding it.

I know modern timber companies need to be flexible with their lands but I've always wondered why they didn't create more use in their plantations?

They could build lodges, run game and tourism programs, and probably do okay. Not to mention the goodwill they could develop around their properties and business; they could always use it to brib^H^H^H...wine and dine government officials.
 

KTMan

Twelve Pointer
Contributor
I had the pleasure to rabbit hunt a quail lease. Group Leased it long term with one objective to make it have a thriving quail population. Like said, very deep pocket guys. The amount of money each member put in was crazy. But they reached their goal. In two days of hunting just a small portion of the farm I saw 6-7 covey.

The habitat was unbelievable. We killed our 8 person limit of rabbits both days before lunch. My understanding is the population of both birds and rabbits suffered greatly due to flooding from hurricane.
 

GobblinNC

Four Pointer
I had the pleasure to rabbit hunt a quail lease. Group Leased it long term with one objective to make it have a thriving quail population. Like said, very deep pocket guys. The amount of money each member put in was crazy. But they reached their goal. In two days of hunting just a small portion of the farm I saw 6-7 covey.

The habitat was unbelievable. We killed our 8 person limit of rabbits both days before lunch. My understanding is the population of both birds and rabbits suffered greatly due to flooding from hurricane.
What part of that state was that in KTman?
 

Jett

Ten Pointer
Hyde, Tyrrell and Washington counties held large populations of quail. Most held along refuge borders that frequently burned. Then the Feds decided to flood the refuge lands and there went the quail. Pretty simple. USFWS destroyed a huge native population of quail strictly by it's management practices.
 

Cornbread

Six Pointer
We have 80 acres of family farmland, nothing has changed in anything we do, we use to see at least a covey everyday and could hear them hollering during the day but hear recently they seem to have gone away or something took care of them. We also have a old cabin on south mountain in Burke county and we use to jump the ruffed grouse quiet often when we would go but know that is a very very rare thing. The State bought all the land around the cabin and pretty much has done nothing except take away all rights on the service road going up the mountain.
 

Rescue44

Twelve Pointer
There is a lot more to it than this..bed time...a friend says fire ants are one reason. When quail hatch, egg of course breaks, ants are attracted to it. I don't know. But, how long does it take fire ants to find dove that you've shot?
 

agsnchunt

Ten Pointer
There is a lot more to it than this..bed time...a friend says fire ants are one reason. When quail hatch, egg of course breaks, ants are attracted to it. I don't know. But, how long does it take fire ants to find dove that you've shot?

That's a reasonable theory. Fire ant and quail geography kind of match don't they?

I hate a fire ant like I hate a yellow jacket.
 

Loganwayne

Eight Pointer
i have found and heard quail on public land in NC on several different tracks. we've also heard them on the farm we deer hunt for the last couple of years. i dont have the heart to take my dog in after them and get them all busted up. im afraid its one small covey.

Got a friend that runs a plantation in Florida, its pretty intense the work they do to provide good ground for the quail.

I think they could be brought back but its gonna take alot of work and they would have to become a priority for land owners vs turkey and deer. same could be said for grouse.
 

agsnchunt

Ten Pointer
i have found and heard quail on public land in NC on several different tracks. we've also heard them on the farm we deer hunt for the last couple of years. i dont have the heart to take my dog in after them and get them all busted up. im afraid its one small covey.

Got a friend that runs a plantation in Florida, its pretty intense the work they do to provide good ground for the quail.

I think they could be brought back but its gonna take alot of work and they would have to become a priority for land owners vs turkey and deer. same could be said for grouse.

Quail hunting , like dove hunting, is about the experience, a day in the field, working the dog, family and friends.

Deer and hog hunting, while maintaining many of those aspects, also has the trophy and meat aspect about them.

In the dove field or deer camp, a several thousand dollar firearm is a rarity. On a quail hunt, you’ll see many of them and often hunters with more than one.

If someone turns quail hunting into a middle class lifestyle thing like has been down with ducks and saltwater fishing, quail will abound.
 

sky hawk

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
Quail hunting , like dove hunting, is about the experience, a day in the field, working the dog, family and friends.

Deer and hog hunting, while maintaining many of those aspects, also has the trophy and meat aspect about them.

In the dove field or deer camp, a several thousand dollar firearm is a rarity. On a quail hunt, you’ll see many of them and often hunters with more than one.

If someone turns quail hunting into a middle class lifestyle thing like has been down with ducks and saltwater fishing, quail will abound.
It didn’t use to be that way. It’s that way now because the only way to have quail is to have large tracts of private land that are intensely managed = $$$.

The lack of quality hunting drove it that way, and I think we are seeing that with ducks now as well. I would argue the prevalence of the game is driving the “class” that can afford to pursue it, not the other way around.
 

Dick

Ten Pointer
I can see how fire ants would have a damaging impact on ground birds. I have seen a few baby birds that have fallen out eaten up with them.
 

KrisB

Ten Pointer
intense predator removal (365 days/year trapping)
Where do I sign up? Seriously, if trapping predators can help the quail population, then trapping predators should be included as part of the quail habitat restoration, no? Has that ever been tried here in NC or has everything just been devoted to the CURE program?
 

MunsterBoykin

Button Buck
I always hear about how there's not enough timber harvesting anymore and how ag practices have changed, but with quail not being migratory I'd imagine you'd have to have a healthy population around to colonize nearby areas. NC seems to be lacking in healthy populations outside of private plantations.
 

agsnchunt

Ten Pointer
It didn’t use to be that way. It’s that way now because the only way to have quail is to have large tracts of private land that are intensely managed = $$$.

The lack of quality hunting drove it that way, and I think we are seeing that with ducks now as well. I would argue the prevalence of the game is driving the “class” that can afford to pursue it, not the other way around.

I can’t disagree with this. I know we hunted the heck out of them when I was small enough to hunt with a literal cork gun, but (I assume) that was because my grandfather raised $$$$$ bird dogs on the side and sold them to some very wealthy people.

I think you might be right though.
 

darkthirty

Old Mossy Horns
Where do I sign up? Seriously, if trapping predators can help the quail population, then trapping predators should be included as part of the quail habitat restoration, no? Has that ever been tried here in NC or has everything just been devoted to the CURE program?

The places I’ve toured had live traps set along the roads about every 1/4 mile. Which equates to hundreds of traps. All had one egg in them. It worked. One guys job was to check those traps and run legholds April through November. And every predator died whether it had teeth or talons.
These places also had their own timber crew with skidders and trucks. Everything involving the management was self sufficient.

I think you can be successful at having bobwhites with minimal input. Ie….prescribed fire, timber management but to have the quail numbers these places had, it’s a multi-million dollar operation and a full time job for 6-8 people. And it had taken those places years to get their bird numbers built up.

I’ll always firmly believe that habitat is the number one reason for the quail decline, but these places essentially removed the predator equation. With the management practices the way they were, the turkey numbers were through the roof as well and one manager even said, turkeys were there biggest predators on bobwhite chicks but the owners loved to turkey hunt so it was a necessary evil. The places I visited were 9k to 24k acres.
 

KrisB

Ten Pointer
The places I’ve toured had live traps set along the roads about every 1/4 mile. Which equates to hundreds of traps. All had one egg in them. It worked. One guys job was to check those traps and run legholds April through November. And every predator died whether it had teeth or talons.
These places also had their own timber crew with skidders and trucks. Everything involving the management was self sufficient.

I think you can be successful at having bobwhites with minimal input. Ie….prescribed fire, timber management but to have the quail numbers these places had, it’s a multi-million dollar operation and a full time job for 6-8 people. And it had taken those places years to get their bird numbers built up.

I’ll always firmly believe that habitat is the number one reason for the quail decline, but these places essentially removed the predator equation. With the management practices the way they were, the turkey numbers were through the roof as well and one manager even said, turkeys were there biggest predators on bobwhite chicks but the owners loved to turkey hunt so it was a necessary evil. The places I visited were 9k to 24k acres.
Wow. That is just amazing. I assume it was a group of trappers that set all the traps, since it was so many traps, and just the one guy who did the trap checks?
 

nccatfisher

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
Wow. That is just amazing. I assume it was a group of trappers that set all the traps, since it was so many traps, and just the one guy who did the trap checks?
Nope, most likely one person. The preserve I used to hunt on had one person that did it. And he was dang good at it.
 
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