Quail Hunting Pen Raised Birds on WMA

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Does anyone know why it is unlawful to release pen raised birds on most WMA's in Georgia. I know that a small handful of WMAs in Georgia have "bird dog training areas" where you can release pen raised quail. I understand maybe the disease spread by birds that may not be harvested. However, in my experience if the bird does not get harvested by the hunter the hawks and owls usually make quick work of the left over pen birds. I live seconds away from a WMA in South Georgia that has implemented yearly controlled burns which have resulted in stunning plantation-like forest. I feel that if it was legal to release pen raised birds on these properties the interest in quail hunting would explode in the younger generation like myself. I struggle to find private landowners willing to let me hunt quail on their properties and work my pointers not because of the pen raised birds just because they don't want anyone on their property. If I knew I could legally get Pen Raised birds and set out on this WMA I would literally hunt there weekly (when other hunts such as deer hunts were not going on) to work my dogs and enjoy time with family and friends.
 
Welcome to Woody's.

I think you might have answered your own question. I don't know what diseases might be present in pen raised birds but they might survive longer than you think when released. I am down near Augusta and we haven't had wild birds here in a very long time. Occasionally we will get the escaped tame bird or two. A couple of years ago we located a small covey of birds on the farm and saw them regularly for several months before they were gone.
 
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I have noticed pen raised birds can live a little longer than expected at times. We have actually jumped up coveys a week after big hunts and felt strongly that they were pen raised birds from the week before. I would have loved to been around in the good ol days of quail hunting wild birds. Unfortunately these are not those days but I have had some great days with friends and family hunting released birds and watching our dogs working!
 

KyDawg

Gone But Not Forgotten
Pen raised birds of today, fly much better than they did 10 years ago. We hunted some in February and when they got up, you better be ready, as they would fly out of sight, and it did not take a lot to get them up.
 
I have noticed pen raised birds can live a little longer than expected at times. We have actually jumped up coveys a week after big hunts and felt strongly that they were pen raised birds from the week before. I would have loved to been around in the good ol days of quail hunting wild birds. Unfortunately these are not those days but I have had some great days with friends and family hunting released birds and watching our dogs working!
I grew up when the word hunting in my area practically meant quail hunting and in our home it absolutely did. There is nothing else like it. That said I have hunted quail only once in the past 40 years. They became unhuntable in my area first due to habitat change so that you could not get close to a covey rise and then to the complete lack of birds.

The last time I went it was to a very wealthy relative's farm in Peach County. It was then managed for quail hunting but he still had to put out pen raised birds to hunt. At the outset he asked that I knock down a bird for the dogs. I did but could have just as easily caught it in a butterfly net. I did not fire my gun the rest of the day.

Pen raised birds of today, fly much better than they did 10 years ago. We hunted some in February and when they got up, you better be ready, as they would fly out of sight, and it did not take a lot to get them up.
@riverkeeper1, I sincerely hope for your sake that KyDawg is right.
 

KyDawg

Gone But Not Forgotten
I have noticed a big difference to last two years. Maybe it is where they are getting them from. These do not hop around and you do not have to beat the bushes with a stick to get them moving. I have noticed that they tend to wander more, from where they should be.
 
You mean you might have to actually hunt them? Man, what a novel idea. LOL
 
You still get a bad bird once in awhile, but most of the birds these days fly well. If you have the right kind of area, they can live a lot longer than some people think. In my opinion, the number of WMAs with dog training areas should be increased. This is especially true in areas with no wild birds. There is nothing there for them to give diseases to. I also agree this would get more young people interested in the sport. I know a lot of young people who would own a bird dog if they had somewhere to hunt.
 

spring

Senior Member
I'd suggest it's a combination of several things. First, as you noticed, the WMA you went to is being set up well for wild birds. How many they have is another story, and certainly a challenge to keep and maintain if only from the standpoint that it is a public place and wild birds simply can't handle the hunting pressure that brings.
Knowing that giving wild birds a chance is part of their plan, you need to consider the risks to them that released birds bring, the largest of which is an increase in the number of predators. The concern about diseases is also there but not necessarily proven. That said, in the rare occasion that a released bird can breed with a wild bird, the concern about the degradation of genetics (from essentially a lean and elite athlete to a large, lazy, and overweight couch potato), is real.
In general, if you want wild birds, you don't release pen raised birds.
 
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I'd suggest it's a combination of several things. First, as you noticed, the WMA you went to is being set up well for wild birds. How many they have is another story, and certainly a challenge to keep and maintain if only from the standpoint that it is a public place and wild birds simply can't handle the hunting pressure that brings.
Knowing that giving wild birds a chance is part of their plan, you need to consider the risks to them that released birds bring, the largest of which is an increase in the number of predators. The concern about diseases is also there but not necessarily proven. That said, in the rare occasion that a released bird can breed with a wild bird, the concern about the degradation of genetics (from essentially a lean and elite athlete to a large, lazy, and overweight couch potato), is real.
In general, if you want wild birds, you don't release pen raised birds.
This is spot on. If there is any chance of wild birds on a place, you don’t allow people to put outpen raised birds for “training.” The WMAs that have habitat you would want to hunt would likely be the ones to hold some birds, so there will never be many WMAs that allow “training” for that reason in my opinion. I for the life of me don’t understand why people would buy, train, and feed a quail dog if they don’t have enough land available to them to release pen raised birds on.
 

SLY22

Senior Member
This is spot on. If there is any chance of wild birds on a place, you don’t allow people to put outpen raised birds for “training.” The WMAs that have habitat you would want to hunt would likely be the ones to hold some birds, so there will never be many WMAs that allow “training” for that reason in my opinion. I for the life of me don’t understand why people would buy, train, and feed a quail dog if they don’t have enough land available to them to release pen raised birds on.
Just curious how much land ( acres ) would one need to release 10 or 15 pen raised birds to hunt with a dog?
 

spring

Senior Member
Just curious how much land ( acres ) would one need to release 10 or 15 pen raised birds to hunt with a dog?
Not to "Bill Clinton" things, but it sort of depends on what you mean by "hunt." If you mean for you to hunt them, that's completely different than if you mean for your dog to hunt them, which is then essentially just training. Since you're talking about putting out a few birds yourself, it would also mean that you know exactly where you put them, which to me means you're not really hunting, absent a dizzied group of birds out of a pen for the first time coming out from under the brush where you put them.
If you're really thinking, however, more about getting in some good dog work, then putting out birds and letting your dog work to find them is a very good and productive goal. In this case, the amount of land needed is totally up to you as a dog is going to get a thrill out of finding any bird, no matter how little he had to run around before finding it. Just a couple of acres could accomplish this.
If you want to hunt, then you'll need some degree of mystery, such as having someone else put out the birds, which of course is how about every commercial quail hunting place works. In that sort of case, much larger tracks of land are needed to create a more realistic traditional hunting experience.
It all just depends on your objectives.
With 10-15 birds, you could easily create 3-4 difference covey rises. Ideally you'd want to spread them out so that you'd have enough room to go after the singles without bumping into the other birds you put out. For that, I'd think a 15-20 acres at a minimum, but more like 40-50 preferably.
 
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I use my brothers farm. I use a twenty-five acre fenced in area and my focus is training the dog and to keep the scent of birds strong and fresh in his mind. Biggest problem with this is finding quail to use as I’m not setup to raise birds only a cage to keep the birds in for training purposes.
Now hunting is a different proposition for us quail hunters. Public land birds are almost nonexistent in most of Georgia hence the reason so many travel out to the central part of the country to hunt.
It’s also why some of us focus on woodcock to hunt local with our dogs.
 

SLY22

Senior Member
Not to "Bill Clinton" things, but it sort of depends on what you mean by "hunt." If you mean for you to hunt them, that's completely different than if you mean for your dog to hunt them, which is then essentially just training. Since you're talking about putting out a few birds yourself, it would also mean that you know exactly where you put them, which to me means you're not really hunting, absent a dizzied group of birds out of a pen for the first time coming out from under the brush where you put them.
If you're really thinking, however, more about getting in some good dog work, then putting out birds and letting your dog work to find them is a very good and productive goal. In this case, the amount of land needed is totally up to you as a dog is going to get a thrill out of finding any bird, no matter how little he had to run around before finding it. Just a couple of acres could accomplish this.
If you want to hunt, then you'll need some degree of mystery, such as having someone else put out the birds, which of course is how about every commercial quail hunting place works. In that sort of case, much larger tracks of land are needed to create a more realistic traditional hunting experience.
It all just depends on your objectives.
With 10-15 birds, you could easily create 3-4 difference covey rises. Ideally you'd want to spread them out so that you'd have enough room to go after the singles without bumping into the other birds you put out. For that, I'd think a 15-20 acres at a minimum, but more like 40-50 preferably.
Thank you for the great reply Spring!
I just bought my first bird dog last May, a Boykin pup. He is currently with a trainer and I'm just anticipating some things I can do to help in his training when he comes back to me.
 

coveyrise

Senior Member
There are wild quail on more WMA land than you think. I always find birds every time I go. Fla also has some great hunting on WMA land also.
I could see allowing release on some of the wma land in north ga or some of the public land that has been documented to have no quail. Ride some of the land on WMA’s the next few months. Listen to how many Bobs you will here calling. It may surprise you.
 
There are wild quail on more WMA land than you think. I always find birds every time I go. Fla also has some great hunting on WMA land also.
I could see allowing release on some of the wma land in north ga or some of the public land that has been documented to have no quail. Ride some of the land on WMA’s the next few months. Listen to how many Bobs you will here calling. It may surprise you.
Shush
 
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