This tract lies SE of Anywhere and has a history of intensive cattle stocking. The previous owner ran a cell system on this place and much of it had been cleared and planted to Kleingrass. Remnant clumps of Kleingrass can still be seen and they provide excellent nesting cover. There are is one high-fenced field with improved range over most of the remainder. The primary species on this ranch has always been quail, and management has been focused on enhancing quail.
A. Habitat Control.
Because so much of this tract was in grass, it needs to be disced annually to promote forbs. Additionally, cattle are brought in as needed from the neighbor to open up the grass and brush and to reduce thatching. We have over time removed most of the fencing installed with the cell system and used either a Brown’s Tree Cutter or a shredder to strip what brush remains. Currently, almost all of this tract is hunt-able on foot and the strips are maintained with a shredder and disc. As mentioned, we disk open areas in the cooler months to promote forbs, most notably Jumbo or Three-seeded croton. Additionally, portions of the irrigated/high-fenced field are disced for Native sunflower, or planted with sorghum almum, sesame, or Brown-top millet, primarily for doves, but for quail as well.
B. Predator Control.
There is no formal predator control on this tract, although feral cats/dogs are shot on sight. During nesting, we have also applied Extinguish, a fire ant bait approved for general use. This bait is broadcast along the side of the road with the intent that the ants will take the bait to the queen, eliminating the nest and improving quail nesting success.
C. Making Census Counts.
Detailed records of quail, deer, turkey, and feral hogs taken are kept each season. Scouting for wildlife, particularly quail and dove is a regular assignment of the ranch manager. These two activities together help the landowner and myself estimate populations of the target species. This tract is heavily used to train pointing dogs, so an update on native Bobwhite populations is always available.
D. Supplemental Water.
In addition to letting remnant cattle troughs run over, and one earthen stocktank, the ranch boasts an extensive sprinkler system based on a 3-inch poly pipe run from a nearby Carrizo well. These sprinklers serve a dual role; the primary purpose is to promote green vegetation in times of drought. That green vegetation is necessary for those late season chicks to get the insects they require early in life. The secondary role of the sprinklers is to wet the vegetation in the hopes that the resulting reduction in ground temperatures will help those chicks survive the heat those first few weeks of existence.
E. Supplemental Food.
The management plan for the ranch emphasizes native foods whenever possible. For this reason, we have taken up the stationary feeders of old and replaced them with the croton strips and food plots. During the cooler months, when food might become limiting, we feed Milo off to the side of the road along a set route, enhancing hunting to be sure, but also providing emergency food in times of stress.
F. Providing Shelters.
Leaving brush in strips and mottes and leaving grass sufficient for nesting provides basic cover. One technique we use to improve on that where woody cover is lacking, is to “half-cut” regrowth mesquite. This process provides shelter and shade for quail protecting them from predation as well as heat.
The combination of shredding, discing, and half-cutting remaining regrowth mesquite has transformed the entire tract to one favorable to Bobwhite quail.
2 thoughts on “ADDENDUM TO A TYPICAL RANCH 1-D-1 APPLICATION FOCUSING ON QUAIL”
I really like this and did something similar on 120 acres in Brown County. The results were up and down, best years is when we had rain at the right time.
I had a favorite client for many years that said I always looked smarter when we had wet Springs.