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Author Topic: Quail release not very successful  (Read 25126 times)
skipper3905
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« on: April 09, 2008, 08:56:44 PM »

Six days ago I released about 150 bobwhites at 5 weeks old. Released in two batches. I had three groups from same hatch. Each group about 75 birds. One batch I released at exactly 5 weeks. The next at 5 1/2 weeks. Still have last batch in pen. Planning on letting them go at six weeks. Was sort of following the surragator idea on time frame, though I don't have a surragator. I do have pens that are somewhat remote. The birds have not seen a lot of people, though more than they would in a surragator. None of the birds looked great coming out of the brooder. First batch I put in growout pens at 4 weeks, second at 4 1/2 weeks, and last at five weeks. The worst looking ones were ones in brooder full five weeks. That is the thing that puzzles me about keeping them in surragator for release at five weeks. My brooders are larger than the surragator and birds were in fair shape when I put them in growout pens. But after a few days in the growout pens they were really jumping and flying. The surragator is just a brooder in the wild, it seems to me. When mine first came out of the brooder you could almost pick some of them up. 

Yesterday, I found about 8 birds close to the pens. Found about 8 today, same area, likely same birds. Obviously, I don't expect to see all 150 birds but should see more than I have. While there is good cover, in fact very good habitat all around, the layout is such that 140 birds can't be in the area without flushing a few here and there. No reason for them to travel far, I have ample food and water at release site plus other quail in growout pens to hold them in area for a limited time. I have been working on varmints and thought I had them thinned out pretty good. Maybe not.

I was told by a pretty experienced quail hunter that in the spring quail eat a lot of grass and that really reduces their scent. I put grass clippings in their growout pens and there were oats growing in there anyway. Problem is, after I turned the first batch loose my lab was tracking them down with no problem. I doubt if a coon would have much problem either. Question, has anybody else ever heard this about grass feeding reducing scent? I have done a fair amount of reading on quail and never seen anything like that. Still, the fellow that told me this is a long time quail hunter and someone I would count as knowledgeable.

While I don't know for sure it appears I am having a very high loss rate. Way past what is possible to have and get any introduction going. Have not had any weather problems since release. Here in East Texas it is relatively warm now. I am going the release the last 75 in a different place. That may help. Not one to give up, I have another 600 due to hatch this weekend.   
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wildergamebirds
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« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2008, 09:33:29 PM »

Not one to give up 

   Is that spelled m-a-s-o-c-h-i-s-t?

   Young birds don't have a lot of scent, plus, being surrounded by the green grass hides their scent.  In 48 years of hunting, I've never heard of grass consumption blocking scent.  I'm sure I know some little fact that he doesn't, so this may be where he gets even.  It could make their poop smell sweet.  They primarily eat insects, which may be in short supply, now.  Did you put grit in a pan in the brooder?  Did you mist them with water, or supply dusting box prior to putting in growout?  They prefer wheat grass over most.

    What you are doing is tough, at best.  Jason, and others put a lot of research into the surrogator, and it's proper use.  I suppose there are subtleties most would not catch onto, quickly.
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skipper3905
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« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2008, 11:43:53 PM »

Wilder,

I did have grit in the brooders though I did not think I needed it since I was feeding Purina 27% gamebird chick feed. I did not have a dusting box in brooder nor did I mist the birds with water, though I should have. Have not heard of putting a dusting box in brooders but makes sense. I have heard it is worthwhile to spray with water in order to get oil on feathers to protect in rains. As I said, we have not had a rain since I released the first batch. That may be an issue with the few survivors I have but not now.

Bugs everywhere down here. Was just outside and could barely open my mouth for bugs near a light. I understand quail must feed on bugs first two weeks of life in wild which is supplemented by the 27% protien feed in captivity. That is not the issue here. 

Some of the birds my lab found were in knee high green oats. Have a lot of wheat planted near pens also. Point is, the dog went right to them. Not a good sign. When he spooked them they flew well but waited far too long to fly. Had my dog jumped, he could have caught them. A bobcat or cayote would have had a easy time.

Not trying to denegrate the surragator. A lady that raises quail near me has a surragator and has not had much luck. I have seen reviews that said it worked well. It just struck me that the birds were so docile coming out of the brooder I saw little or no chance of them making it. It just seemed to me that is what they would be like coming out of a surragator. Not that that would make much difference. After a week in large growout pens with plenty of room to fly they looked great, flew well, and generally behaved somewhat wild and I still think something has nailed almost all of  them. 
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CharlieHorse
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Northern Bobwhites

« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2008, 12:10:49 AM »

I've released alot of 5 week olds, only to never see them again.  I can usually go back around the release sight the next day and shake up quite a few, but after that second day......they disappear.  I don't believe that they are killed off that fast in my area anyway, I believe that they just move out of the area, as some of my release birds have been spotted a good mile or two away from the release site within a week of their release. I know that some make it and stay around my release sites, because they (previously released birds) will call when fresh birds are released several months later.  I've also had different batches of BW's with totally different behaviorial charctaristics.  I've had them up to 3 years old that where just as "wild" acting as the day they where born and I've had others that act like chickens from the day they where born. The bunch that I have now is around 7-8 months old and I have to practically kick them out of my way when entering the pen.   s47  While other batches head for cover and can't even hardly find them. 

Good Luck.
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skipper3905
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« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2008, 11:37:25 PM »

Charliehorse, 

Hope you are right that the quail have just moved on. Walked around for quite a while today with my dog and did not find a single one. I don't know, it just seems like out of 150 released I would see a few.

Will move 600 into hatcher this weekend. Maybe they will go better. Will be warmer five weeks from now. Weeds higher, better cover, more bugs, some grain beginning to drop so  more food. Going to try releasing in a different place. Bound to be better. Maybe they just like my neighbors places better. Got 1200 acres though, they damn well ought to find some place on my land they like. Pretty inconsiderate I think. 
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greyghost
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« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2008, 01:01:36 AM »

Skipper, do not take it personal. My "bird guy" once told me " The reason they pile  up is because they are stupid."  Deep, huh?
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CharlieHorse
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Northern Bobwhites

« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2008, 07:49:41 AM »

........well ought to find some place on my land they like. Pretty inconsiderate I think. 

LOL!  Same here!   :-|

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wildergamebirds
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« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2008, 01:34:34 PM »

If stocking game birds was easy, and always successful, we would have 1960s populations everywhere.

  We've had good results on three properties, using adult(ish) Georgia Giants, but that was in very heavy 3-5 year old cover.  Generally, I think you'll have better luck with the Surrogator type method.  It's pretty early for young birds, even in Texas.  Maybe in a growout pen until 10-12 weeks old, if pen has natural cover, and ZERO human contact, after first 4-5 weeks.

  One big advantage of insects is conditioning the young birds to search for food.  I believe grit helps with prepared feeds, even though it is not mandatory.  Look at the granules, there are often pieces of hard corn visible.  Grit is needed for grass, insects, and, of course, whole seeds.  Grit may help stimulate secretion, and enzyme activity (I don't know this, but may have heard or read it).  Starting their "new, wild" life with a gizzard full of granite, and oily feathers couldn't hurt.

  Even moisture from frost, dew, or splashing through a mud puddle might be a problem.  Consider what would happen, if you were sitting in the living room in cotton pajamas, and your loving spouse spritzed you with a spray bottle, just in two little spots.  Then, if the dogs were raising hell outside, and you ran out to check on them.  It's 60 degrees out, not bad, but the sun is down.  Chilly yet?  No problem, except the door locked automatically, and your "loving spouse" is in the shower.  Now add to that shock the fact that you didn't get much to eat the last three days, because you don't have much hunting experience and your parents aren't there to teach you.  I wonder if it might be helpful to feed a higher calorie/fat diet a week or so prior to release in cooler weather.

  The big problem is lack of solid research.  Most Game Departments have given up on stocking.  The folks who developed the Surrogator are about the only ones I know about.  I don't think they have suggested misting, or dust baths, but it has to help.  I know it does when raising to adulthood, for training, or field trial.
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skipper3905
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« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2008, 10:31:37 PM »

Wilder,

I am pretty much in agreement with everything you said. Even though it is getting fairly warm here this is way to early for 5 week old BWs to be out in a natural state. That can't be positive. A later release would be better.

I really like the idea of spraying water in the brooder. I have heard people spraying them with a water hose in the growout pen but spraying sounds much better and generally makes more sense. How often would you suggest?

Would just sand, which has small pebbles, work as grit and dusting box in brooder?

I plan on the next batch of eggs to be Georgia's. Going to order them in about 3 weeks. Very glad to hear they have made it on your place. I have about 20 of them in pens now and they are just beautiful birds. Would love to get them going on my place. Frankly, I was afraid their size would keep them flying as well as they need to survive. What part of the country are you in? 
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CharlieHorse
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Northern Bobwhites

« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2008, 10:51:08 PM »


I really like the idea of spraying water in the brooder. I have heard people spraying them with a water hose in the growout pen but spraying sounds much better and generally makes more sense. How often would you suggest?

If I remember correctly, I'll start spraying on them when they are fairly covered with feathers. I just use a spray bottle about once a day, every other day or so......basically whenever I'm in the mood and feeling oinery  :evil:  (It can rain anytime in the wild)   :grin:    I've been known to spray some adults with a waterhose when it's been blazzin' hot.....they seem to like it and stand still for it.........sometimes.  ^-^
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« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2008, 01:58:55 PM »

Skipper,
     Sorry for a redundant post on another section of quail place forum. The project I am planning is between 400 and 500 acres and with much less intensity than you are using. Please keep posting your results with both quail and pheasant.
    I am trying some trial habitat in my pastures this year. If my trial does not work and your extensive efforts does not work, I probably do not need to try to reestablish quail next spring or think about establishing pheasant.
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deadeye1
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« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2008, 01:08:56 AM »

If the land you release birds on has all the things that they need to survive and is isolated by being surrounded on all sides by tillable farm land,Then you have a chance to hold birds on your property.If not they will dissapate as they will travel great distance.I was hunting on a game preserve (DNR property)In area 2 and the quail were checked b/4 i left for home.They had leg bands that they said was put on them 5 miles away.They were trapped wild and banded long b/4 the hunting season started.We have a place about 30acres that also has a 30acre lake that we plant food plots,Sorghem,egyptian wheat and a quail mixture also sun flowers.We release some at 6 wks and release the rest a week b/4 hunting starts and we have pretty good hunting more with our cameras than the gun.Eventually  they all dissapear as the predators thin them out pretty rapidly.Somehow though when Spring weather arrives so do a couple of quail.Remember a pair of quail establish a lot of land for there territory.the male will run out other birds.I have been restocking for 5 years and if you want some for your self,release during the hunting season.Deadeye
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CharlieHorse
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Northern Bobwhites

« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2008, 09:44:33 AM »

I just had a male return to the house yesterday after being released about 2 miles away, around a week ago.
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jbird
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Gods Creatures are for everyone to enjoy

« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2008, 02:32:59 PM »

What about a different approach ?
Maybe they should be around humans, dogs etc.  Scare the birds with noise everytime you go into there cage making them scared of people.  (not to get them hurt though ) Maybe a remote toy with a coon skin cover chasing them around just a little.   Just a though, but I could be nuts.  Do I need  s85 ?
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CharlieHorse
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Northern Bobwhites

« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2008, 02:57:27 PM »

What about a different approach ?
Maybe they should be around humans, dogs etc.  Scare the birds with noise everytime you go into there cage making them scared of people.  (not to get them hurt though ) Maybe a remote toy with a coon skin cover chasing them around just a little.   Just a though, but I could be nuts.  Do I need  s85 ?

Good thinkin'!     ^-^  You might be on to something...............

Just go in there, chase them around and scare the livin' daylights out of 'em!!  Grap a couple and let 'em scream bloody murder.....maybe even break a couple legs and wings to make sure your message sinks in?   I'd even go as far as getting naked and slipping into a coyote hide, complete with ears and jaws, bite a couple of them on the wings and hang on for dear life while it thrashes around trying to get away.....screaming all the while you're making examples out of them for the others to see.  Maybe add some wings for the full "falcon" effect while I'm at it?   They'll be scared $hitless of their own shadows by the time I'm done.  End result........Pure 100% wild birds.   ^-^

Super Genius!!   

 a31
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