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mister grouse

Tall Timbers Wild Quail statistics...cost is astounding

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mister grouse

Tall Timbers is the premier wild bobwhite quail research program in the southeast (and probably in the country).  Here is a summary of some statistics from the latest TT newsletter:

 

--On the Tall Timbers properties 1519 nests have been monitored since 2000

--Average of 81 nests produced per 100 hens

--13 is the average clutch size for the breeding season

--4% nests is average  lost annually to fire ants

--1 in 4 chicks average survive to November hunting season 

--7 % of hens produce a double clutch of eggs

--2 hens produced triple broods

--44 broods produced per 100 hens entering the breeding season on average 

--3349 is the total number of wing tagged chicks since 2000

 

The report also states that the estimated average management cost per landowner/planataion in the Thomasville/Tallahasee/Albany area to produce a wild quail for the hunting season in November is $570 PER BOBWHITE.  This area is generally known for large landholdings of 1000 to 20,000+ acres where quail are the principal crop, and the land is managed principally for the benefit of the propagation of wild birds. MORE INFORMATION AVAILABLE AT TALLTIMBERS.ORG

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Jakeismydog2

Thanks for posting this. Interesting info. 

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mister grouse

Really interesting stat to me is the" 1 IN 4 chicks survive to November " in what has to be the most intensely managed fairly contiguous block of manicured quail habitat in the country. Thats a really low number considering the management there in that area. 

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Cooter Brown

Those are sobering numbers.

 

I think that dollar figure has gone up since the last time I looked at the Tall Timbers lit.

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WI Outdoor Nut

What is factored in that cost?  Land for example would be a huge number.  For us in WI, our deer cost a ton of money if you factor the cost of land. 

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mister grouse

I do not know the exact answer to the question on inclusion of land costs but,  based on my conversations with owners of some of these large tracts on amounts  the owners spend annually on their properties, Im confident land cost is not included or amortized in the Tall Timbers calculations.  I think the kinds of costs that are included would be  cost of annual spring burn management; supplemental feed costs; cover maintenance such as year round mowing of the understory of pine woods; labor for managers trappers for predator control etc; fuel; equipment cost for large tractors, mowers, vehicles; equine costs for those that are horseback hunting oriented; dog trainers; dogs; vet bills for the animals; insurance; lodge staff ,and on and on.  

 

The land cost for these large tracts (if available) can be somewhat staggering as well.  $5,000 per acre would be a minimum, and some are in the 10,000 range depending on location, soil types, historical quail management etc of the targeted tract.   

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LabHunter

It's amazing that the higher quail populations in the past were really just a pleasant side effect of the "dirty" farming practices of the time.  We need to find a way to increase habitat without having it cost $570 per bird. 

 

I can see where you could rack up costs very quickly if you are managing the land specifically for quail, what with the constant need to turn the land over/burn/etc.  I think a better solution would be to find a way to farm that is compatible with quail.  I've been wondering if there is some way to reclaim clean farmed cropland as habitat by planting some other type of cover interspersed with the crop?  It would have to be something that would have little to no effect on the crops...maybe there's some other solution out there?

 

 

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barna

One of the main reasons that cost is so high is because of the location.  Vegetation grows fast there and it takes a lot more work to keep it in prime condition.  The factors that impact the quail production at the TT are different than in TX, OK,NE or KS, bird numbers in these areas  are primarily driven by weather, moisture at the right time is the key factor.    The habitat in the south has changed way too much, you have to fight the intruders constantly.  The greatest factor is hard woods, they provide no benefit to the survival of quail and serve as sanctuary to most of the nest predators. That is a double whammy for the birds.

The long leaf pine did not choke the understory and allowed  vegetation to flourish that provided food and nesting cover.  Fescue is another contributor but not as much as the hardwood intrusion. 

 

Barna

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mister grouse
3 hours ago, barna said:

The greatest factor is hard woods, they provide no benefit to the survival of quail and serve as sanctuary to most of the nest predators. That is a double whammy for the birds.

Correct, and actually the hardwoods are home to unbelievable numbers of snakes as well. And the camera monitored quail nests in the TT studies have shown that snakes are a prime (if not THE prime) quail  nest egg-chick  predator.  One plantation in particular logged  about all hardwoods off close to  8,000 acres to reestablish Long Leaf pine . A lot of stately oaks with the classic spanish moss look went to the sawmill.  Anyone interested can see a lot more of these studies in the TT archives from their web page. 

 

23 hours ago, LabHunter said:

I've been wondering if there is some way to reclaim clean farmed cropland as habitat by planting some other type of cover interspersed with the crop?  It would have to be something that would have little to no effect on the crops...maybe there's some other solution out there?

My impression is that this multi use farming approach (crops and quail) has been pursued by biologists all over the southeast for some time but it has not sustained prior historical quail populations so far.  In the 70s and 80s  I hunted a good bit for wild quail in South Carolina for a few decades  , and there were then still ample birds around bean and corn  fields  and in small garden plot-type areas with escape cover. I think that is not the case any more.  Herbicides, predation, and the commercial pine timber  industry may be primary culprits.  I believeTall Timbers is working on a quail recovery initiative in South Carolina now that is not large plantation owner oriented, and more along the lines you describe. 

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LabHunter

The birds out here seem to do best in expansive native grass areas.  This has turned out to be more beneficial than the small patchwork fields that one would traditionally associate with quail.  The biologists out here think this is due to the mature forest bordering the fields providing ample hunting spots for raptors.

 

Maybe one day I'll have some land and can play with this stuff as well

Trev

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Mike Connally
On 7/29/2017 at 6:30 AM, mister grouse said:

Really interesting stat to me is the" 1 IN 4 chicks survive to November " in what has to be the most intensely managed fairly contiguous block of manicured quail habitat in the country. Thats a really low number considering the management there in that area. 

Hmm...

Knowing what I do about predation and dinner animals (quail) I'm surprised that 25% make it to November. I would have guessed much lower. 

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mccuha

Here in sc.  I've lived here all my life. Started "bird" hunting in the early 70's.  in the 70's there were still a lot of farming and was not ditch to ditch farming and left a lot of crops and hedge rows. Also trapping was huge . There were a lot of birds then.  80's. farming became cleaner and left a lot less crops and very little hedge rows . We began to have better luck hunting clear cuts 1-5 years old.  They would push all debris into big brush piles and left a good broken up land that would produce quality food and cover. 90's they went to just leaving all the debris in the clear cuts and began to spray them to kill all vegetation and plant pines by hand. The last senerio provided the least amount of cover and food.  70's we averaged 10-15 cavies a day 80's 5-8 covies a day. 90's to present 0-4 covies a day.  As mentioned. Out west there vegetation provides good cover and feed all you have to worry about is proper conditions and timing. So in conclusion great habitat loss in the south is the ultimate decline of gentlemen bob

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spring

Lots of ways to calculate the "cost per bird," but the most general would be to simply look at the annual budget to run a place, and then divide into that the number of birds taken.  Such a methodology would probably bring the cost of most birds to at least $5,000 each.  It just cost a lot to run a recreational hunting property that is not trying to produce some sort of positive economic return. 

Calculating it this way obviously tosses in all kinds of additional expenses that are not directly tied to quail hunting, but in general, the cost of kenneling and training dogs, burning, chopping, disking, chemical treatments of young hardwoods, year-round feeding, checker boarding, labor, property taxes, insurance, forestry advice, road maintenance, equipment repairs, and facility maintenance all add up when revenue generation is not an objective. 

Of course there's often an attempt to have a happy medium and run a place with some revenue generation to offset the hunting cost.  This would usually include row crop farm leasing, timber management, ect.  While this can financially help, it usually reduces the quail hunting productivity over what the property could generate. 

Most places around here are initially purchased by Mr Big, and then often his kids enjoy the place.  By the third generation as ownership gets fragmented, usually grandkids that live elsewhere aren't interested in getting an inheritance that they have to feed.  That's usually when the places come on the market.  Currently recreational hunting tracts are in pretty good demand, but during weak economic cycles, they can really drop since there is no positive cash flow to support the price. 

Intersting dynamics when it comes to something as simple as appreciating a 6 oz. bird. 

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mccuha

I'm not from the TT area but speaking of people I personally know from SC. They don't have there plantation to produce a revenue. It's all about spending there money on what they are passionate about. They could care less as to what it costs. As long as they have the cash flow to spend on the King of game birds they will do so. I feel like those guys in the TT area feels the same way. Quail habitat use to not be costly but like stated the change in farming practices made it extremely expensive to have abundant wild quail. Spring is most likely in the area where all of this is taking place and is very knowledgeable in what it takes. I have a bad feeling that 50 yrs possibly less that these plantations in south GA and North FL will be mostly a thing of the past. Like stated  by Spring generations later will own land they have no interest maintaining and also get to thinking man I could make a fortune putting a golf course here and selling lots to build expensive homes on.

 

I use to hunt Grouse with a guy in NC that had so much private land that he didn't own but had access to hunt that he could hunt the entire season and never step on the same piece of property the whole season. The hunting was unbelievable with 20 plus flushes each hunt. Well that land was past down to all of there decendants now there are houses and golf courses all over that land and still being developed.  It's just the way it is.

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charlo slim

Interesting, for sure.  The cost figures make me glad that my BWQ endeavor is in western OK!  So long as the precip cooperates anyway.

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