Cooperative Habitat Projects
Story submitted by the Mid-MO Young Guns Chapter of Quail Forever
You know what they say about the best time to plant a tree? Twenty-five years ago. And the second best time to plant a tree is today. Well that's just what a group of Quail Forever kids came out to do last weekend on the Thomas Hill Conservation Area. They were planting shrubs, not trees, for quail habitat. Since quail populations have been on the rise in areas where our Quail Forever Chapters are creating more habitat, our chapter decided to involve area youth in creating more quail habitat. Though we hold 2 youth hunts (or more) per year in Macon, we wanted to give the kids a chance to give something back to the wildlife they pursue.
We invited all of the Quail Forever Whistler members (youth under 18) in the chapter to come on out and help plant Covey Headquarters for quail. The first thing is to recognize the species needed for good covey headquarters - our mix included blackberries, flowering dogwood, fragrant sumac and wild plum. When planting a covey headquarters, we taught the kids to space the plants about 5 feet apart - to allow quail room to run in between the shrubs. The most critical part of the planting is to be sure all other vegetation is dead - quail will not use a shrub planting or brushpile with thick grass underneath. Thanks to Mark Switzer and Beau White with the Conservation Department, the areas we planted in were sprayed several weeks before our planting date. David Stroeppel and Wade Bealmer ordered the shrubs from the George O. White State Nursery for us and Ted Seiler and Andy came out to help the kids plant the shrubs.
The kids had a great time and planted 225 shrubs for quail habitat on Saturday. Any youth in the area is invited to participate in Quail Forever's Whistler program. It's free to the kids and they can sign up at the Quail Forever banquet in September. In addition to learning the habitat needs of quail, these lucky kids who took the time out of their busy schedules to help wildlife were invited to help trap and band mourning doves on the conservation area this summer. It pays to give something back to the wildlife.
Get involved, have fun and learn something outdoors. Join the local Quail Forever chapter this fall, it's free for kids under 18. We'll be announcing our fall youth pheasant and rabbit hunts soon, so keep your ears open. Of course the kids who came out to help with the shrub planting, in addition to getting to be a part of the dove research team, also have the first option for the youth hunts.
For more information, contact the Mid-MO Young Guns QF chapter. Contact info can be found here.
A habitat story from the Ozark Plateau QF Chapter
The Ozark Plateau Chapter of Quail Forever near Springfield, Missouri, has been busy over the last couple of years implementing habitat practices that benefit bobwhite quail and other early successional wildlife. With the matching funds provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation, the chapter has allocated nearly $30,000 in cost-share funds to private landowners in the southwest portion of Missouri.
One of the practices that seems to be of concern to private landowners is the control of woody cover that has encroached into many of their idled old fields or neglected pastures. Woody cover is typically a 'good' thing for quail, but too much of it can lead to degraded habitat and loss of herbaceous vegetation. There many ways to tackle this problem, but the use of a Fecon Bull Hog has been very popular. This piece of equipment mounts to the front of a variety of wheeled or tracked vehicles and - for the lack of a better technical term - pulverizes trees and shrubs up to 10 to 12 inches in diameter. One interesting aspect about this method is that the shredded trees and shrubs dry out very quickly which allows a prescribed burn to creep across the cleared areas in a relatively short amount of time after the initial clearing.
Most of the landowners plan to follow this clearing with establishment of native warm season grasses and forbs. In fact, many of these open areas have a natural seed bank of native plants and need no re-seeding. They have just been waiting for the exposure to sunlight.
The Bull Hog has been especially beneficial in opening up natural communities such as glades or savannas. In Missouri, these habitats often become choked with eastern red cedars. The Bull Hog makes quick work of these.
The Ozark Plateau Chapter is helping to create bobwhite quail habitat in a variety of ways, but the use of the Fecon Bull Hog seems to be one landowners appear excited about.
Bruce & Jan Sassmann
Bland, MO 65014
Bruce and Jan are restoring 50 acres of Native Warm Season Grass and Forbs as well as about 40 acres of woodland/glade/savanna habitat. The farm historically has always been fescue pasture and cropland. The farm is also located in the middle of our new Quail Focus Area and will act as our demonstration site for workshops and other demonstration purposes. Bruce and Jan are members of the local Four Rivers Quail Forever Chapter and very motivated and dedicated to their restoration projects. Along with all the wildlife projects they are also developing an educational side as well. They feel the key to wildlife restoration on a landscape scale is educating the public. So to help with this, they are restoring an old barn on the farm which will be used as an education center for landowner workshops and school programs. Jan is a teacher by trade, so working with adults and youths, teaching them about native grasses and forbs is her goal.
Jan has attended multiple courses at Shaw Nature Center learning about native plants, which she plans share with others on the farm. They also have a growing specimen garden by the barn in which they have planted every plant species, plus some, that can be found on the farm. The purpose is to allow people to study the plant in the garden, then go out into the grassland and find it. Jan and Bruce plan to have a habitat display and habitat raffle at this year's Quail Forever Banquet. They’ve also talked the chapter into serving quail for the meal. This farm will serve as a great demonstration farm because it has almost every aspect of wildlife management onsite along with the development of the education center, which will allow us to teach the general public about these great projects and how to complete them.
Submitted by: Ron Lehman
Moreau Valley Quail Forever Chapter President
Tipton, MO Farm
We made the first run on the farm at Tipton 11-28-08 which consisted of my wife's farm of 107 acres (82 CRP; remainder woods and idle area) and an adjoining farm that joins 125 acres (80 farmed, 5 acres wooded and the remainder in CRP). We ran a total of six dogs, three to four at a time which consisted of two old, half crippled dogs, two young setters that have not figured the game out yet, and two solid dogs.
We moved eight coveys figuring around 110 to 120 birds total. There was a 30 acre section on our farm that we did not move a bird on that I heard two coveys calling from during whistle counts (hunting later in the season, we moved 2 coveys in that area).
The 82 acres of open ground is roughly 50 acres of WSG mix of Big Blue, Indian, Little Blue and Side Oats. The planting is going on its 13th year and the Side oats is gone the Little Blue is slowly disappearing also. We have been on a three year burn rotation, strip spraying, light disking, legume and forb interseeding for the past 8 years. There are 6 acres of food plots on a rotation of 1/3 milo, 1/3 left idle and 1/3 in winter wheat or rye and 1 acre of white clover split in about 6 locations. In the light disk sections I have also spreaded lespedeza and some red clover and we get a lot of ragweed, etc. coming up in this area and I try to disk some in the spring and some late summer or early fall.
The other 30 acres was is in a cool season mix of orchard grass and timothy but the fescue has won the battle back to some degree so I have done a lot of spraying and letting mother nature fill the area back in and over seeding with lespedeza and clovers. Some of the cool season acres were reseeded to a forb, legume and little blue mix last fall but the wet summer we had would not allow any brush hogging to allow this to really take off. The tall rag weed took over and we found three of the coveys in a 8 acre patch on Friday. There are also around 40 downed tree structures spread throughout the area and lots of edge featuring has been done. The birds were in some of these structures or flew to them when we got them up. The birds were also using some wild plum areas and shrub dogwood thickets.
The idle area is woods or small draws that have been thinned out and a small savanna area that needs a lot of work now because the fescue and locust trees have taken this area over again.
When you look out across the farm it looks great but when you get in close and look around there is always some area that needs something done.
Across the fence on the neighbors there has been some work done but not much, a little burning and that's about it. Across the black top there is some CP33.