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mc Offline
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Stan I have a dog gambles run don't hold but finding down birds is a problem so a dog is helpful finding down birds most of the time the dog gets ahead of you and the quail run and you have to pass on shots because you never get them out of the canals down there but I still go every year.

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Good to hear about the cattle. Grasslands worldwide evolved with fire and grazing. Not continuous, but cyclical as when herds large and small seek out and graze areas that have recently burned and bypass the areas waiting for the next lightning fire. The Komarek brothers from Tall Timbers showed the high correlation between the distribution of North American grasslands and areas with high lightning frequency. The study is a landmark in fire ecology. Now we know the same principals apply to huge areas in the western United States including mountain forests, chaparral, sagebrush, and pinyon juniper. Here on the northern prairies, grasslands or wetlands (basically wet grasslands) suffer the Smokey Bear Syndrome just as those habitats, with the affliction most severe on public lands, some with few large herbivores of any type, native or domesticated.

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Originally Posted by btdtst
Corn and soy bean harvests are mostly finished in this area. In speaking with the farmers that collectively have harvested well over 10,000 acres they have reported seeing zero pheasants and only one covey of quail. This from six different counties so it covers a fairly wide spread area which would help rule out small localized weather effects. Until fairly recently this area of Kansas has always had excellent (some years phenomenal) quail and pheasant hunting. I spend a lot of time driving the rural roads and cannot remember the last time we saw any birds. Rather depressing.

That is a sad report.


"With one foot in the grave ..........and one foot on the pedal, I was born a Rebel" T.P.
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Heard the first covey call this morning; always cool when the formation of the winter coveys begins.

Also came across these birds about an hour ago. Looking forward to the season!

[video:youtube]
[/video]


Edit:
Here’s another from a few minutes ago:


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Originally Posted by Hal
Good to hear about the cattle. Grasslands worldwide evolved with fire and grazing. Not continuous, but cyclical as when herds large and small seek out and graze areas that have recently burned and bypass the areas waiting for the next lightning fire. The Komarek brothers from Tall Timbers showed the high correlation between the distribution of North American grasslands and areas with high lightning frequency. The study is a landmark in fire ecology. Now we know the same principals apply to huge areas in the western United States including mountain forests, chaparral, sagebrush, and pinyon juniper. Here on the northern prairies, grasslands or wetlands (basically wet grasslands) suffer the Smokey Bear Syndrome just as those habitats, with the affliction most severe on public lands, some with few large herbivores of any type, native or domesticated.

That's interesting, Hal. Do you have a link to the study you referenced? I would have thought that soil type and rainfall had more to do with the creation of grasslands than lightning frequency. I am at my farm in AL right now, and the rolling hills were originally part of the great longleaf forest. Fire was an important tool in keeping it going, and there is plenty of evidence that the Creeks who lived here routinely burned the forest and didn't wait on lightning.

But I can drive 4 miles west and cross the Cahaba river and I'm in the Blackbelt soil that is a strip of land across AL and MS. It has a much higher ph and was originally a vast grassland, inhabited by bison and other animals that you would expect to see in the Midwest. It is still open land today, though it is mostly pasture. It's one spot the timber industry didn't get, as it won't grow pine trees.

It was great quail hunting in the 50s and 60s, and the only place we could go that had good populations. But even back then it was hard to get permission to hunt the better places.

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Nope the soil is created by the grassland where only a small part of the biomass is aboveground. The fibrous roots of the grasses and other plants store the carbon, and more is added as dead plants and animals decay on the surface as well as underground. Weather does play a big part, however, as the lightning comes during seasons when conditions are apt to be dry. Up here that is early spring and mid fall. I'd bet trees would grow just fine in your blackbelt soils. The reason forest had not encroached into them long ago is almost certainly because of high fire frequency. North Dakota had less forested land than any other state, but the trees we plant flourish in the rich soils and often grow faster than in their original forest soils that are low in organic carbon. Native trees like aspen, jackpine, and pinyon juniper now dominate much former grassland. There are weather-related factors that also cause the loss of native grasslands, but I won't mention them here, as they are minor now that most native grasslands have long ago been converted to annual cropland.

Here is a link to the Komarek studies.
They spurred my 50-year interest in fire ecology.

http://talltimbers.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Komarek1965_op.pdf

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Thanks for the link, Hal. I will try to read it tomorrow when I should have some time.

A quick search didn't locate a good soil map of the Blackbelt, but the 2nd map in this link shows a reasonable outline of it:

https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/92321/black-belt-prairie

Certain trees will grow on some of the soils in it; I should have stipulated that it is loblolly pine that it won't grow, and that's what the timber industry wants. Most any of it will grow cedar, but there is no market for it.

The weather in the Blackbelt is virtually the same as the weather just north and just south of it, but the Blackbelt was prairie and the other land was longleaf.

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Originally Posted by spring
Heard the first covey call this morning; always cool when the formation of the winter coveys begins.

Also came across these birds about an hour ago. Looking forward to the season!

[video:youtube]
[/video]


Edit:
Here’s another from a few minutes ago:


Nothing like a good canned Quail hunt....

Ps...the use of a flushing dog gives it away.

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What I saw in the videos was well-trained French Britts broke to wing and shot on a wild covey. The lab didn't cause them to break which would have happened with my dogs. When that covey got up, all birds got up. It was none of that "dribble-drag" of boxed birds getting up when they don't feel like running but will flush in sporadic groups. That's what gave it away to me. Gil

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Hal, thanks again for the link. That was an interesting read, and I noticed several things that were probably not well understood in 1965 that are common knowledge today.

I didn't see anything specific about the Blackbelt in his thesis, but he was surely correct in regarding the great longleaf forest as a grassland that had trees on it instead of a forest. The accounts that I've read from the 17th and 18th century writers certainly described it that way. I suspect that the soil composition of much of the Blackbelt being created by the ancient ocean was what kept the longleaf from growing on it.

I have often thought that my farm was at one time very close to that ocean, but never a part of it. As I said, driving just a few miles west gets you into the soil type that is completely different. I have been trying to restore my property to the native longleaf, but it is very challenging. I burn about 100 acres a year, but the competition from loblolly and hardwood is hard to defeat. I can never reproduce the way the forest looked 500 years ago, but I can make a better habitat for the turkey, and even the quail. The turkey can thrive, but the Bobwhite can merely survive in what amounts to an island of a few hundred acres in the midst of tens of thousands of acres of loblolly plantations.

One thing I should clarify is that the term "Blackbelt" has taken on different meanings in recent times. It is most often used today as political term, describing a string of blue counties in the midst of a red state. It is also used as a geographic term and includes all the counties that contain any part of it. My soils professor at Auburn back in the 70s used it to describe soil type in general terms, and used it interchangeably with the term "Prairie" soil. The latter is the way that I was using it, and I wasn't clear on that.

Those prairie soils exist in patches throughout the region, much the way the writer of the thesis described the ancient fires. You can certainly find good timber growing soils in counties that are regarded as Blackbelt counties, but the true Prairie soils are what will not grow pine in an economic way. They do have cedar and some hardwood species like Osage Orange that I have never seen anywhere else.

Mr. Bobwhite once thrived over all of it. Maybe he will again someday.

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