Category Archives: pre-season released quail

Different Ways to Release Quail for Preseason Stocking

There are many different ways to release quail.  Here are a few that I  used successfully at my Covey Base Camps. Whenever I am conducting a pre-season release of quail on my hunting area, I try to do it in a gentle fashion.  I don’t want the quail to be so excited that they flee the area before they have a chance to find the feed and water I have provided them at the release site.

Late Night Release:

When I first started doing these types of releases, I used take my boxes of quail out to the release sites in the middle of the night.  The quail would be very calm because of the darkness.  If there were any foxes or bobcats on the prowl, I would run them off as I went to each site.  I would start releasing about midnight.  I timed this work so that I finished just a couple hours before sunrise.  At sunrise the quail would start leaving the boxes on their own through the exit hole I had cut in the end of the box.  The birds would then begin getting feed and water from the Base Camp that was there to greet them.   This method is practical for smaller projects where you are only releasing a few coveys.  If the birds arrive in a card board box,  I just cut an arch shape in the box about the width of a quail.  When the box is placed on the ground I just fold the flap under the box and keep my hand over the hole until the box put on the ground.

Flap cut in cardboard box.

If the birds arrive in a wooden fruit crate,  use tin snips to cut through the bottom slat away from the wire binding wide enough for a quail to get through. Then break off the slat against the wire.

Cut bottom slat .

Break off slat against wire binding.

Ice Door Method:

Some of my larger projects  required me to establish a hundred or more pre-season release coveys.  Using ice to block the box exit allowed me to obtain a gentle release during the daylight hours.  This is how I did it.

Take a one quart freezer ziploc bag and fill it half way with water.  Squeeze all the air out of the bag and seal it.  Next, lay the sealed bags on a flat cookie sheet and place in the freezer.  This will result in creating a square sheet of ice about a half inch thick.   When I went out to release my coveys,  I just put all these ice packets in my cooler.

When I placed a box of quail at the release site, I simply cut an opening in the box, cut open the ziploc bag and remove the sheet of ice  and place it over the opening.  As the ice melted, the birds eventually saw an opening and exited calmly.

Using the “ice door”.

Crushed Ice Method:

Last year I got caught off guard and had to release 40 coveys of quail on a different date than scheduled.  Since I didn’t have any ziploc bags of ice prepared,   I filled a cooler full of bagged ice from the corner store and headed out to my project.  After placing the birds at the release site, I took a feed scoop full of ice from the cooler and piled it up in front of the box opening.  This gave me the same results as the ice bag without having to mess with the bags.   Sometimes necessity is the mother of a better idea.

Using crushed ice.

Dead Grass Method:

I had a friend of mine tell me that he just uses a wad of dead grass to delay the release of his coveys.   The dead grass is loosely  stuck into the exit hole and eventually the birds peak through it and exit the box.

Dead grass method.


Always take weather into account when you are releasing your coveys.  When I begin releasing coveys in mid-September , the temps can run in the upper 80’s .   When this is the case,  I  set the box of quail  in the shade at the release site to keep them cool until they find their way out.   Birds that are overly heat stressed during transport or while being held can become so physiologically damaged that they will never recover.  During hot weather I like to use one of the ice methods mentioned because the quail can obtain moisture from the melting ice until they leave the box.  Also, ice melts in relatively short time.

Coveys released during the cooler weather of October are much easier to transport and hold without being heat stressed.  Last year I changed over to using the “dead grass”  method then,  as the temperatures cooled off.  It worked fine.

There  is no one best way to do covey releases. I hope the methods we have discussed help you choose the one that is best for you in your situation this season.



Methods of Feeding Quail

When I was a kid, my dad and I would go to an old farm near Hawkinsville, Georgia and just go hunting. We never planted a food plot or put out any feed, yet each year we harvested enough quail to include on the menu for the family Christmas dinner. So why do we need to provide feed sources for quail today?

There are many factors that I could bring up, but let me briefly touch on two : high deer populations and sod forming grasses. I have been managing quail properties in the southeast for many years. Here it is common for me to see a proliferation of seed producing plants emerge during the spring on acreage that was control burned the previous winter. During the summer months these same plants are browsed heavily by deer. Though there is still seed production for quail, it is greatly reduced.

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Do Early Released Quail Run Off Wild Quail

Recently, a client of mine said to me,“Jim, I have two questions for you. First, are my early release coveys running off the native birds? And second, can released quail reproduce?” These are probably the two most frequent questions I have had come my way during the past thirteen years of working on pre-season release quail projects. Whats really going on? Who are the real Survivors in the quail game?

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Are Pen-reared Quail a Disease Threat to Wild Quail


Thomas H. Eleazer, DVM Avian Disease Consultant

Introduction by Jim Evans , Consulting Biologist


Dr. Tom Eleazer received his degree of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Georgia in 1958 and served Clemson University as a veterinary pathologist, studying poultry and game bird diseases for 31 years. Tom is still actively applying his skills as a poultry and game bird disease consultant. In the past he has served as president of the South Carolina Wildlife Federation, served on the advisory board for the Institute of Wildlife and Environmental Toxicology, and also as a member of the Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Advisory Board for the South Carolina Wildlife Commission. He was also instrumental in the development of the vaccine for “quail pox”.

Now lets hear what he has to say about the question: Are pen-reared quail a disease threat to wild birds?

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Do You Need To Feed Quail ?

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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Understanding the Seasonal Use of Quail Feeders

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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The Critical Elements of Releasing Quail

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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