Rural System, Inc.
 Sustained rural lands; sustained profits




Rural System's Covey Card

Perhaps printed in a 3-column, 6-side format for a folded pocket-size pamphlet/handout with the address of The Covey...

RS's Covey Card

I'm in touch with the experts and I know how to get bobwhite quail populations for you. By improving habitat for quail, you will benefit rabbits, turkeys, and a host of songbirds. Stop worrying about stocking, disease, and bounties. Let's get to work. Here's how. Give me a call. I can show you and I can help.

We have to increase bugs for quail chicks while providing them protective cover from predators while feeding. Set back cleared fields to early growth stages by burning or disking. Provide a cool burn in winter after the late frosts but before quail food begins sprouting. Disk fields in winter or early spring.

To stimulate grass and sedge growth (ragweed, doveweeds, panic grass, sunflower, and morning glory), plow cleared strips 10-75 feet wide between forested areas. The strips should receive maximum morning sun and minimum shade. When plowing, follow the contours of the land. Plow no deeper than 8 inches. Plow in January and February and rotate plowing of adjacent plots every 2-3 years.

Protect all quail fallow fields from grazing. We can work out a rest rotation schedule.

Allow oak stands to mature to acorn-producing age (at least 40 years, but preferably to 80 years). Thin at mid-rotation to improve acorn production and increase the sunlight reaching the forest floor. Underburn on a 3-year rotation to promote grasses and weeds and to regenerate desirable forest trees.

Thin pine plantations as early as possible (18-20 years) and follow with underburning, as noted above. Plant pine seedlings on a 10-foot x 10-foot spacing. That keeps the field open for quail for about 10 years (only).

Plant food in cleared long, linear plots nearby adequate escape cover. Plots should be 0.25 - to - 2 acres , and should be spaced 0.5 mile from one another. Plow and fertilize as needed. Plant mixtures of wheat, sorghum, corn, partridge peas, blackberry, rattan, soybeans, lespedeza, and millets - whatever grows best in your area. Plant sorghum and corn on 0.25 - to 1-acre plots and lespedezas on 0.1 -to - 0. 6-acre plots.

Plant rows of VA-70 shrub lespedeza down the middle of food clearings with minimum shade approximately 10 feet apart.

Promote old-time farming with weedy fields, brushy fencerows, and odd corners. We need the fencerows and corners. Leave some crops (corn, soybeans, sorghum, and wheat) unharvested for winter forage. Brushhog winding pathways through the weedy field for hunters, dogs, and extra insects. Leave a 30-foot buffer between forests and fields to develop naturally a "stair step" edge. You will need to cut manually or use herbicide on large woody stems to keep these edges in a stage most usable to quail and other birds.

Near feeding areas, provide escape cover with the corners, brush piles, tangled thickets, or fallen trees.

You may need to construct brushpiles in ditches and gullies near feeding areas where cover is inadequate. Build them as tepees, at least 5 feet high and 15 feet in diameter. Add or replenish every 2 years. Along gullies, ponds, and streams, encourage shrubs, wildgrape, greenbrier, and honeysuckle thickets for cover.

Partially saw (in winter) a line of 6-inch saplings of oak that retain leaves well into winter and push them over, being sure to leave as much sapwood attached to the trunks as possible, trying not to kill them. Let vines (grapes, smilax, and woodbine) grow over the saplings.

To reduce fire susceptibility, plow or harrow around the quail area and burn before the harvest in areas with heavy broomsedge or grass growth.

Plant cleared areas near forested edge, brushpiles, or thickets with grasses (not fescue) and clovers, brambles, to provide nesting cover and materials. Native grasses like panic grass, switchgrass, Indiangrass, and bluestem provide good nesting habitat for quail.

In large forested areas, have cool ground fires on 1/3 of the tract every winter to stimulate the growth of food and cover vegetation.

In forested areas with abundant cover, clear and thin small areas to promote new vegetation. When thinning, leave gum, mulberry, wild plum.

Rotate cutting of forested areas in blocks or strips (just like harvest rotations). We need a new clearcut of equal size to the last one every 2 years.

Provide singing-male posts in fields, at least 2 per acre.

Control predation of feral cats and dogs. Other predators cause losses (striped skunk, opossum, fox, raccoon, Cooper's hawk) but we can out-produce their losses without the legal or political hassles. Recent research has shown that while habitat improvement is the most important, moderate levels of predator control can help as well. Let folks trap furbearers.

Avoid insecticide use within the quail range. Although we need to avoid herbicides that remove beneficial weeds, herbicides that control woody vegetation can be useful in quail management.

Control hunting harvests; take 50% (total).

Make regular counts to assess whether improvements are being made in the population or its use, and encourage hunters or visitors to observe your successes.

Major landuse changes are occurring, not only in the crops used, the fencerows reduced, the field sizes increased, plants eaten by deer, and the weeds (and thus weed seeds) in crops controlled with herbicides. It is likely that quail numbers are decreasing at the same rate that quail habitat is being lost.

I can help you produce quail in special areas with new techniques and set up a monitoring and harvest or viewing system for you and your family and guests. We have to get ready for the future. Call me at Rural System...address etc.

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Perhaps you will share ideas with me
about some of the topic(s) above at

RHGiles@RuralSystem.com.

Maybe we can work together
... for the good of us all
... for a long time.

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