Help with diy put and take quail

Thread starter #1
I live on 100 acres in southern greenville county South Carolina. For the second year in a row quail suppliers, even ones that I preordered from, have run out of birds.
the deer have wrecked my sunflowers with 2 different electric fence strategies and my wife won’t let me high fence it (Dove field is my front yard). Even tried sesame last year but did not germinate and replanted milo as much for quail release as doves.
I love watching the dogs work and hearing quail whistle. Also, I’m in my early 50s and semi retired so have time to do it right. Please help me figure what I need to do raise, release and chase quail on my farm. I have 1 acre in broomsedge and 3.5 in mix of cave in rock switchgrass and wildflowers. My 8 acre dove field is an open book as far as replanting. I do want to avoid milo as I had to spray for sugar cane aphids and don’t want to spray pesticides. I really like avoiding herbicides as well but don’t mind a little remedy to knock back sweet gums.
also have 30 acres of open hardwood flood plain to release in as well.
I have 2 Jonny houses already
planning to build a flight pen and don’t know what is better incubator and buying eggs or day olds. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel here. Would love to get some suggestions on how to make it work.
thanks
 

kmckinnie

Useles Moderator
Staff member
I thought about getting the wild bird seed that sells at Walmart. I’ve had it sprout and grow at bird feeders and the heads of it had seed.
Anyway going to do it in a small spot.
 

spring

Senior Member
Since the vast majority of any quail you release will be consumed in short order by predators, I'd avoid the work and expense to plant food plots for them. Why not just plant you some big blue stem and little blue stem and enjoy the hunt as much as possible for each bird release? Less land preparation cost could mean more birds you could purchase and hunt....
 
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I believe Tall Timbers Research Station had the survival pegged one time at less than 50% in 48 hrs! Without the learning from mama quail in the wild...
Remember...EVERYTHING loves to eat Quail * (* ALso a TTRS saying!!)
Maybe spread some milo in the release area (in thickets if possible) so they are not having to move about so much and be vulnerable in their feeding.
 
I have had fairly good success early releasing birds pre-season(Sept.-Oct) These birds survived and became semi-wild! The key is good habitat! They will not do well if the habitat is not right! Also the type of quail that you release is crucial! Early released birds need to be put out when they are young, no later than 12 weeks old and they need to be weather conditioned! Another important factor is that they(birds) need to be Northern Bobwhites and not the Jumbo Wisconsin strains. It can get expensive because of the high mortality rate! if you put 30 birds to a covey half or more will be caught but the ones that survive will be as close to a wild bird as you can get, if you use the right kind of birds that are young enough to still have some wild instincts! This has been my experience.
 
Thread starter #6
Thanks for the replies. I realize I can’t establish a wild population and that mortality will be high. I just want to have birds to shoot to 1) work the dogs 2) enjoy outdoors time with friends and their kids.
Last week, I heard leftover birds from our put and take father son day. Grabbed my stuff and walked out the backdoor to scratch out 4 birds with my old 3 legged draathar. Was a great feeling. Almost as much fun as watching my son make a double on the rise. Trying to make this a more consistent event.
I have spent about $4,000 per year on the dove field in fertilizer, diesel, time, seed, chemicals and wear and tear (I’m really good at breaking stuff in my rocky soil). The results have been mediocre. I have the equipment, time and limited budget (quit fixing the dove field) to make this happen. Hoping to get more suggestions on what to plant, how to manage habitat to make it huntable and suggestions on raising quail myself as suppliers of birds have been unreliable for the last 2 years.
I called the DNR quail habitat guy, and he said my farm was too small so he wouldn’t come out and consult - I get that I don’t fit his mission statement. I’m not complaining; just letting you know what I have tried. I wish I had 10,000 acres, but I don’t. I have what I have and hoping to get free advice on what is possible from those that have had success and what to avoid from others’ failures as well.
thanks
 
If you are willing to drive a couple of hours to get birds, there are some good bird growers in North GA. PM me if you are interested and I will give you names and numbers. What you are doing is a fun way to enjoy your dogs. Most people don't have a huge track of land to support wild birds, but we can still have our dogs.
 
Thread starter #8
Thanks coach. I am headed to Piedmont game birds in Clarksville ga tomorrow to pick up 100 birds. 3 1/2 hours round trip to get birds. Hope the fly well. Still want to have a better system for next year though.
 

trad bow

wooden stick slinging driveler
I have access to a thirty acre field I turn six birds loose at a time. I do fairly well with that. I turn them all loose at same time then turn dog loose a hour later. Sometimes they group up and sometimes it is a singles type hunt. Dog enjoys it.
 

spring

Senior Member
If you’re used to spending $4,000 per year on land prep, I still think you can come out way better off than planting a food plot for quail with a very short life span. Even on plantations that are covered up with wild birds, food plots for quail are a thing of the past. They’ve all figured out that discing in December and growing weeds is much more effective. Much cheaper, too.
Since you’ve got an annual $4,000 budget and you really want to feed the quail as needed that survive for a bit, buy a 3-point hitch spreader for about $600. Run it through your weed fields as you sling out some milo. You’ll be done. Use the leftover money to buy more quail to release.
Have fun!
 
Thanks coach. I am headed to Piedmont game birds in Clarksville ga tomorrow to pick up 100 birds. 3 1/2 hours round trip to get birds. Hope the fly well. Still want to have a better system for next year though.
You are getting your birds 5 minutes from my house, They will fly well.
 

spring

Senior Member
Lespedeza can help somewhat with wild birds; not so sure about released. Here's an article on it. Per this study, quail would need to eat over 18,000 lespedeza seeds per day to make it thru the winter. In this report, it also says:

The human fixation on food led many well-meaning people in the early decades of quail recovery to believe that all that was necessary to quail recovery were grain food plots. And many times a goodhearted landowner set aside a ½ acre “patch” back next to a mature woodland or near a hay field, of something like corn, or milo.

Little islands of food popped up everywhere largely surrounded by a “sea” of useless cover for quail. And folks were mystified as to why “the quail never came back.”
Supplemental year-round feeding combined with habitat management for nesting, bugs, and escape cover is a pretty good recipe. I manage for quail year-round; not a planted patch on my place.

Shell’s Covert: A Quail Cannot Live on Lespedeza Alone
 
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I have had fairly good success early releasing birds pre-season(Sept.-Oct) These birds survived and became semi-wild! The key is good habitat! They will not do well if the habitat is not right! Also the type of quail that you release is crucial! Early released birds need to be put out when they are young, no later than 12 weeks old and they need to be weather conditioned! Another important factor is that they(birds) need to be Northern Bobwhites and not the Jumbo Wisconsin strains. It can get expensive because of the high mortality rate! if you put 30 birds to a covey half or more will be caught but the ones that survive will be as close to a wild bird as you can get, if you use the right kind of birds that are young enough to still have some wild instincts! This has been my experience.
I agree with most of what you said. You can get 2 day old birds via the post office. Put them in a heated, water, food then at 6 weeks move them to a flight pen with as little human contact you can. You can release them at 8 weeks. Keep plenty of scratch feed and cracked corn spread around to keep them in an area. Of course cover is important if you want to keep 50%. You need to do this in August or September so it's warm and plenty of food available. Cackle Hatchery is where to get polts. No one is allowed to sell wild birds or a certain percentage of wild birds
The other way to get birds is the state market bulletin. They just might not have 8 week old birds
So I did all this at my bird hunting plantation that I've been a member of for 29 years
We started releasing birds, we called semi wild, 25 years ago. We went to the trouble of banding each bird and recording it. And put a call bird rout and feed. Now we just release 30 birds on each course and they figure it out. I bird hunt down there almost every week end and my bird dog frequently finds those coveys. The rule is you can shoot the cover rise but not chase singles
We have over 1,000 acres
I got my birds back in those days from a breeder that would sell me 8 week birds
I doubt you find anyone like that today
 

spring

Senior Member
Hoping to get more suggestions on what to plant, how to manage habitat to make it huntable and suggestions on raising quail myself as suppliers of birds have been unreliable for the last 2 years.
Found this online if you're serious about raising your own quail instead of buying them:

If you decide to rear your own birds with your own reproductive adults, egg incubation, etc., please consult as many resources as possible when getting set up to do so. Representative of bird species, each has its own world of specialized information. Rearing is somewhat outside the scope of this publication so will not be covered here. Various guides and enterprise budgets are available on the Internet, from university extension services or can be ordered from specialty supply outlets.
With respect to growing and maintaining birds there are number of things to consider. For feeding adults and chicks, nutritional needs change as the bird matures. For example, chicks are immediately started on a game bird chick starter. This is very different from domestic chicken starters. This is in the form of starter pellets. Chicks are attracted to green, so green paper or paper plates are helpful in getting the chicks to feed and can be collected and then discarded or burned for sanitation purposes.
After the chicks are one week old they can be started on a game bird “grower diet.” With respect to pheasants, if the formulation is correct, this diet may be satisfactory up to the bird’s maturity at 16 weeks. Per bird, each pheasant will require somewhere between 1⁄2 to 1 pound of starter per week; and about 10 pounds of grower, a 15-week supply, to reach maturity (4.75 pounds for hens and 5.5 pounds for roosters). Adult pheasants will require about 5.5 pounds of feed per month to maintain condition. Throughout the grow-out period, grit to aid digestion should be sprinkled on the feed every four days, until the birds are placed in flight pens.
Flight pens are all that is required for the preserve operator planning to purchase adult release- ready birds. The best flight-pens are those with some access to shelter during the worst of winter or spring weather. Adult pheasants are relatively hardy game birds and can withstand cold temperatures if well fed and protected from the wind. Pheasant chicks, quail and chukars are less hardy and need to be housed in some type of building until flight-ready. One commonly seen rule-of-thumb is that maturing pheasant chicks require 4 to 5 square feet of space per bird. Chicken brooder houses or coops will work well for young pheasants; old hog-runs also make excellent “lean-to” shelters for mature and later-stage maturing game birds.
Flight pens should be a minimum of 6 to 7 feet high and 15 to 20 feet wide with nylon netting over the top. Some publications state that chicken wire with 1-inch spacing is satisfactory for the sidewalls. I disagree, and prefer hardware cloth or a similar mesh size for the simple reason that at the least, chicks younger than 10 days old can squeeze through the 1-inch chicken wire, and so can the smallest weasel species and small rats. The bottom of any wire barrier should be buried at least 1 foot underground to prevent it from being accidentally breached, and to prevent predators from burrowing under the wire.



Much more info on raising quail here
 
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Powerline

Senior Member
How much fire ? are you doing on your farm? 100 acres you should be burning different blocks every year. The objective is different stages of early successional habitat.
 
Thread starter #17
Any suggestions on what to plant in open fields just to have a good hunting experience when put and take hunting. I have 3-4 acres to plant. Have done milo for past 3 years but had to spray for sugar cane aphids in milo last year. Hate doing that as it risks bees even though I only spray late afternoon. Deer eat all sunflowers. Tried sesame last year and did not germinate so replanted milo. Right now I have 1 acre in broomsedge (easiest of all just mow every few years) 3 acres in wildflower and switchgrass mix (cave in rock the short one).
someone mentioned burning, but my farm is super hilly and slopes sharply down to a river. I worry that burning the woods would cause severe erosion. I do have some flat flood plane I could try burning.
thanks again for all the ideas. Keep them coming.
flight pen plans anyone?
 
No experience but I would say native grasses and "weeds" if you can find it.
I bush hog my open hardwoods once a year and let it grow up. I don't have quail that I know of but tons of birds in there.
I don't burn yet, everyone says don't cause it will kill the hardwoods but I don't know, mine are open with a weedy understory that I want to burn off.
Maybe plant a few pines of some sort, not a lot but a few per acre to? (that's what's on the plantations so cant hurt)
I have thought about releasing some on my place, I have a similar set up it sounds . Except mine is sandy soil not rocky. (piedmont of Ga)
I would say burn a few acres a year and I like the idea of using a tractor spreader to toss some feed out every once in a while.

Good luck and post pics of what you do. I'm interested.
 
Not sure if you are familiar with the quail surrogator or how it works but it’s a great way to do an “early release” program. They are still the potato chip of the woods though and eventually get gone.
 
Thread starter #20
I’ll try to attach aerial photos of land one with topo lines and one without. In addition to the land with the red band I have the 2 lots on either side of my street access (narrow strip off large triangle). 6F029535-17D4-44D0-8BAA-25CBD1065277.png 4EE50B67-99A4-4F74-9D40-EF680A6B40BD.png 4EE50B67-99A4-4F74-9D40-EF680A6B40BD.png
 
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