Tom Deaton owns about 300 acres of farmland in Prentiss County, Mississippi, where bobwhite quail were once abundant. However, in the last 25 years, quail numbers have declined drastically due to changes in land use and management. This is not a problem that is unique to Prentiss County or even Mississippi. Quail numbers have plummeted throughout much of the Southeast and many other parts of their range.
Until 2004, about 210 acres of Tom’s farm was dedicated to a soybean/corn farming rotation. In 2005, Tom enrolled part of his agricultural fields in the then new Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), CP33 – Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds practice. These native grass and wildflower buffers were created to provide critical nesting and brood-rearing areas for quail and songbirds along field edges. Quail responded almost immediately to this addition of habitat.