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Originally Posted By: Berrien Moore
Really important:

"but I noticed the change in landscape, with more trees and tree lines."

We need to find a path back to tree lines

Best

Berrien



They say the greatest threat to wildlife is loss of habitat, which can be clearly seen in that video if we compare today's South Dakota with that (1960) South Dakota. But, is there a path back?

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Reversing the landscape to bring back weedy edges, hedgerows, etc. won't bring the quail back, sadly. Clean farming was certainly coincidental to the demise of the BQ, but was by no means the only cause. Much effort was made on a plantation of 28,000 acres, that joins me, to bring them back by restoring the habitat and managing for them, and going to the extreme not to allow any practices to take place that would be detrimental to the birds. Walter Rosene and people from Tall Timbers worked closely for years with the plantation to do everything "right", at the expense of many millions of dollars. Result? Numbers climbed to an astounding level, then plummeted again, with no explanation. All the BQ experts were consulted, studies were done, to no avail. Today, there are still birds there, but where they were finding 20 covies in a half day's hunt, they might find one or two. Same beautiful cover, same intensive efforts to provide all the birds needed. The reversal has lasted for several years now, with no signs of improvement.

The GA Bobwith Quail Initiative has, for years, worked with private landowners to help restore proper habitat for quail, and the efforts have largely been fruitless. In Texas the health of the quail population seems to be mainly due to amounts of rainfall. I wish it were as easily identifiable here, but it's not.

SRH

Last edited by Stan; 10/05/16 08:49 AM.

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Stan I know absolutely that you are right. I managed intensively several medium to large farms to try to bring back high numbers of quail. Perhaps if we could do it on a million acres it might work but 200-1200 acres never worked long term. You get improvement, a boom year or two and then a bust year which birds just never seem to recover from. I did feed a lot of Hawks, foxes, coons, feral cats and other vermin. I got expert advise, good advise and quack advise in my efforts. Some worked and some did not. Without strict preditor control nothing worked well. You can not fool Mother Nature.

The weirdest "method" involved Banty hens as brood mothers for quail hatchlings. The claim was that the mother would protect the quail until they were big enough to fend for their self. What the heck I thought so I tried it. Don't know who got the hen, a fox, coon, hawk or skunk but that lasted about a week and all the hens were dead hatchlings never to be seen again. Still that cost me a couple hundred dollars to fail other plans cost a lot more to fail.

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The small acreages is the main reason the BQI has flopped here, IMO. But, when you manage 28,000 acres for quail, and it still doesn't work long term, you've got to step back and rethink the deal. I understand that there are a few plantations in SW GA that are successfully hanging on to good numbers of wild birds. mel5141, a member here, is intimately acquainted with at least one of them. But, the owners adjoining me have basically thrown in the towel, I think. At least, until more information becomes available to them.

SRH


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On the other hand, those plastic bird carriers from Lion Country will hold 25 birds to put out where you want them. A fine game bird reduced to poultry, yes but the dogs appreciate the gesture and the family has a good meal.

Maybe it will all come back. There are still birds out there. I've spent the last three years hunting wild birds only (with little luck). I usually put about 5 birds in the freezer each year. I'm going back to released birds...Geo

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Originally Posted By: KY Jon
I did feed a lot of Hawks, foxes, coons, feral cats and other vermin. I got expert advise, good advise and quack advise in my efforts. Some worked and some did not. Without strict preditor control nothing worked well. You can not fool Mother Nature.


I believe that 80-90% of the problem with declining or decimated wild bird and small game populations lies within the statement above. It has been shown that even where good habitat still exists, and scorched earth clean farming is not practiced, bird populations are still way lower than when predators were hunted hard and hawks and owls were not protected. The Golden Years of Ringneck Pheasant hunting my Dad experienced coincided with bounties being paid for shooting hawks and owls, and good prices for fox skins. The introduction of the Eastern coyote has put a double whammy on small game in my area.

But predator populations rise and fall also, which explains why there are short periods when small game populations seem to quickly rebound. When you actually get out in the field and see those piles of feathers or rabbit fur, you can see that it wasn't habitat loss or herbicides that did that. Those hawks, coyotes, fox, owls, skunks, etc. hunt 365 days a year. Reducing their numbers will do a lot more than replacing tree lines and fence rows. But good luck trying to convince your Game Commission that having a Red Tailed Hawk on every telephone line may be a problem.


A true sign of mental illness is any gun owner who would vote for an Anti-Gunner like Joe Biden.

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We sold our farm a couple years ago but retained the hunting rights. My brothers-in-law farmed it with hunting in mind: left good cover at the fence rows and ditches, a few nice grass draws, even a few un-harvested feed rows, etc. We felt like it was worth giving up a few bushels for some decent habitat.

The new owners farm it to the roads; the hunting rights don't do us much good. I hope those few extra dollars are worth it. It's certainly their right, but sad nonetheless.


The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits. - Albert Einstein
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Released birds, if well flight conditioned, are an option but those which aren't are like road runners. Frustrating.

In the early 60's my father released several hundred pheasants on one of his farms. Maybe a couple dozen escaped harvest and lived several years but never raised any off spring. It was still a thrill to be quail hunting, have a dog locked up on point and have one of those monsters erupt when you were expecting a covey.

I always felt the competition between quail and turkeys favored the turkeys at the expense of my little quail. When I was a boy we had zero turkeys and lots of quail. While my best efforts to make a quail comeback were going on the DNR decided to introduce wild turkeys all around me. In five years turkeys were every where and my quail were ghosts. On my river front farm I went from six wild coveys and no turkeys to one small covey of quail and turkeys every where. I've seen as many as thirty turkeys in the fields at one time. But my quail are gone and nothing has brought them back.

It is annoying when the DNR decides to do something that impacts people around them it is OK. If I did that they would have taken me to court. But they are from the government and are here to help.

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I saw the exact same thing with the turkey population exploding, and quail populations crashing, at the same time. In the late 80s. I could find two or three coveys,in the last couple hours of daylight, on my farm right up into the early 90s. That's when the turkeys came back. Strange.

SRH


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Seems to me the same sort of thing happened here is Wisconsin.

When the turkeys arrived, within a few years, the Ruffed Grouse were gone.

Folks say it is the habitat, and I'll give them that to a point, but in every county the turkeys flourished, the grouse took a hit.

I was in Northern Wisconsin around Park Falls this past September on a fishing trip and saw many turkeys along the shoulders of the roads. It will be interesting to see if they impact the grouse in the north woods.


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