(originally published in Q.U. Magazine March/April 2003)
When I was a youngster staying on Uncle Jim’s rural farm in Virginia, the Johnny House was a place you ran to answer the call of nature. Back then we rated them as One Holers or Two Holers. If you train your own bird dogs you are probably familiar with a different type of Johnny House, often referred to as a Recall Pen.
The most common structures used are about four feet square and about six to eight feet tall. (Of course, in Texas they are twice this size.) The house has a screened in top area and ledges for the quail to fly up and sit on. Part of this screen area contains a door that can be lowered in order to let some or all of the birds out. The floor can be either solid plywood or hardware cloth. (I prefer a solid floor. Well talk about this later.) There is also a one way catch funnel located in the bottom of the house. This allows the quail to reenter the house but not leave again.
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.
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. Print This Post Continue reading →