We are excited to announce that three new Farm Bill Wildlife Biologists have been hired in Missouri. These new biologists will work with area landowners and farmers to implement wildlife habitat conservation measures aimed at increasing quail and other wildlife populations. Through a partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever (QF), we aim to help restore quail numbers in Missouri.
A question I frequently hear from landowners engaged in quail habitat management programs is whether they should consider using pen-reared birds to get their population started. The short answer is no. In Missouri, it is a violation of the Wildlife Code to release bobwhites for purposes other than dog training or operation of a commercial hunting preserve. The longer answer is that even if it were legal to do so, releasing penned birds to boost wild populations is a losing proposition. Numerous studies from multiple states have proven that stocking upland game birds doesn’t work.
If you own land anywhere in the country, you can receive free land-use management consultation at Pheasants Forever’s National Pheasant Fest and Quail Classic 2012. The Landowner Habitat Help Room will feature leading technology, and entry is free with paid admission to the show. This dual event runs February 17, 18 and 19 at the Kansas City Convention Center in downtown Kansas City.
January 15 was the last day of quail season and I celebrated with good friends and good dogs. We hunted a farm in southern Livingston County, which has always been a good bet for quail due to the habitat work on the farm. Two of the three coveys we flushed were in brushpiles and shrub thickets, while the third was in a small patch of annual lespedeza; all products of the habitat work done on the farm.
If you love dogs, you need to put this event on the calendar! For the first time, the nation’s biggest event for pheasant and quail hunters and bird dog enthusiasts is coming to Kansas City. Pheasants Forever’s National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic will be held February 17, 18 & 19, 2012, at the Kansas City Convention Center in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.
The winter issue of “The Covey Headquarters Newsletter” has just been released. Check it out here. This free publication is published four times a year and is filled with timely habitat management tips, suggestions and success stories from landowners throughout the Midwest. A small group of determined landowners started the newsletter ten years ago at a workshop in northwest Missouri.
Lee and Anne Ballard own 328 acres in Williamsburg County, South Carolina. Historically, the property was farmed for cotton before Mr. Ballard purchased it in1993. After 1989’s Hurricane Hugo the majority of the timber was cut leaving sparse trees throughout the tract. From 1993-1995 there were 12-15 northern bobwhite coveys and then the number of coveys decreased markedly as plant succession progressed. In 2000, Mr. Ballard retired and began managing the property for wildlife, especially quail. After 2001 coveys again began increasing to 12-15 coveys across the property.
Mr. and Mrs. Ballard have been avid hunters and are wildlife enthusiasts so they understand the importance of managing habitat for wildlife. In 2005 they enrolled 33 acres of the property’s cropland into the Conservation Reserve Program’s (CRP) CP33 Upland Quail Buffers. These field borders have provided valuable nesting habitat and cover on field edges. Mr. Ballard has found up to three different brood coveys in one buffer. Only one year after the installation of field borders three times as many quail were reported calling in these areas during the annual quail call counts.
David Sapp moved back to the family farm in Mitchell County, Georgia in the 1990’s and soon found that the quail he enjoyed hunting as a young man had all but moved out.
In 2005, David enrolled portions of the crop fields on the farm in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). He installed field borders and fallowed dry corners of irrigated crop fields through CP33, a program to provide Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds. He enrolled a total of 10.0 acres in the program and immediately began planting native grasses and legumes to bring along the habitat.
In addition to CRP, he applied for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP): Sustainable Forest and Wildlife Management. Through this program, David was awarded funds to offset the cost associated with prescribed burning and to serve as an incentive in thinning pine stands found on the farm.