Over the years I have had the opportunity to work with many landowners that were devoted to having quail on their property. Questions about feeding quail seem to always arise at some point during my visit. For this reason I thought I would take a few minutes to share some thoughts with you on the subject and why for many of us, supplemental feeding is a necessity. Why do we even need to feed quail?As a youngster, my father and I hunted quail and never had to plant a food plot or put out any feed. The farms we hunted had residual crops scattered along the field edges and food never seemed to be factor. But I can also remember, during one of those hunts, when he took the time to show me the track of a game animal that was just starting to become re-established in the region it was a deer track.Today you could leave half the crop in the field and still have nothing left for quail because the deer would have eaten it all. Also, deer browse on many of the native seed producing plants. This activity further reduces the abundance of natural winter food sources that quail need. In a situation like this, supplemental feeding is critical to sustain a winter quail population.

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Ok! It’s time to drop the tailgate of your truck and let me sit down with you for a few minutes to talk about what happens at a quail feeder during the course of a year. After we get finished, you may wish to review another article I wrote called, Methods of Feeding Quail . It discusses several ways to provide feed for quail and reviews the the role of food plots, the methods of spreading feed, and the use of feeders.
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Many years ago, as a student, I remember listening to one of my wildlife professors lecturing our class about some of the animals he had worked with in the arid regions of Africa. He showed us a picture of an Oryx antelope. This critter has long sharp horns, weighs about 400 pounds and looks as if he just came out of a Dr. Seuss book.
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When I was a youngster, my father and I would just go quail hunting. The culture was different then. The crop fields were generally smaller and surrounded with hedgerows. Because deer were much less abundant, residual crops left after the harvest were available to small game. A strong trapping market kept predator populations in check, and winter burning was just a normal occurrence. All these factors combined to create a “quail friendly landscape”.
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Intergrating deer food plots in quail management.

Intergrating deer food plots in quail management.

Many of you managing your land for quail are also planting deer food plots on the same tract. I see this as a common practice as I consult with various landowners. Many times what I also observe is a wasted opportunity to improve quail habitat. Let me explain.
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It has been stated that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. The same could be said about chicken litter. Although this material has been recycled through a chicken, I have found it to be very beneficial as fertilizer on quail land, food plots, and dove fields. Now before you go turning up your nose at the idea, give me a chance to explain.
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There is a saying that goes ” all that is complex is not useful but all that is useful is simple”. Whenever I visit a property to give advice concerning quail management, I try to keep it as simple as possible. The simpler you make things, the more likely it is that people will be willing to follow through with the recommendations.
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They are out there! In your fields, day and night, these enemies are slowly but surely are eating away at the fabric of your hard fought efforts to have quail this fall and winter. No, I am not talking about predators; I am referring to sod-grasses and hardwood brush.
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We are all familiar with the motel sign that reads, “Please Do Not Disturb.”This is definitely one sign you don’t want hanging on your quail hunting fields. If performed correctly, disturbing the soil during the winter months can improve this winter’s hunting and also be an inexpensive method to keep your fields productive for the future.
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General land management practices of the past thirty-five to forty years have favored some species of wildlife, but quail is not one of them. For this reason most of us have to apply planning and effort to produce strong quail hunting land.
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