From A to Z — Quail Unlimited a valuable source of information
By: Rob Somerville
Ever since I began plans to open a quail hunting preserve, I have found myself studying wild bobwhite quail every opportunity I have. A valuable source of information has been the conservation organization called Quail Unlimited. I wanted to share what QU is all about today.
Established in 1981 to battle the problem of dwindling quail and wildlife habitat, Quail Unlimited Inc. has become the only national, non-profit conservation organization dedicated to the wise management and conservation of America’s wild quail as a valuable and renewable resource. Despite a growing awareness of the importance of preserving and improving upland game habitat, more and more of this habitat is lost each year. In addition, severe seasonal weather conditions such as drought and extreme cold can decimate upland bird populations. To provide background information for its members and non-members, QU’s National Habitat Coordinator, Roger Wells, has prepared a guide to managing lands to make them more suitable for Quail and other upland game called “Habitat Management for Bobwhites: A Basic Guide for the Land Manager.”
QU members in over 500 chapters across the country support and actively participate in habitat improvement, education, and research projects. Funds raised by QU chapters are earmarked for local habitat and education projects, state wildlife departments, upland game bird management, and habitat research and education programs.
These programs can be categorized under the following three headings:
• Challenge grant programs
• Habitat improvement programs
• Youth programs
Challenge grant programs
National Fish & Wildlife Foundation
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is a nonprofit organization established by an act of Congress in 1984. The Foundation invests in conservation projects by awarding challenge grants using federally appropriated funds to match private sector funds. These combined resources fuel effective conservation programs.
Answer the Call
Answer the call is an exciting partnership program between QU and the U.S. Forest Service emphasizing quail management throughout the United States. The Forest Service and QU have teamed up to increase supplies of food, cover and water, resulting in healthy quail populations on national forests and grasslands.
Quail habitat improvement programs
National Seed Program
The National Seed Program is the single largest activity performed by QU chapters. Each year, several national seed companies donate surplus seed to Quail Unlimited. The seed, consisting primarily of grains used to develop winter feeding and cover sites, is then distributed to chapters for use in their food and cover planting projects.
Other Seed Purchases
In order to provide a greater diversity of planting materials for sportsmen and landowners, many chapters acquired additional types of seed. These seeds are used to develop quail nesting, feeding, brood-rearing and loafing sites. Examples: native grass, Korean lespedeza, bi-color lespedeza, partridge pea, Egyptian wheat, native legumes, timothy or clover.
Standing Crop Purchases
Some chapters encourage farmers to leave grain standing in strips at the edge of the field as winter wildlife food by reimbursing the landowner for the crop.
Chapter Planting Activities
Chapter projects involve members in on-the-ground field work on either public or private lands.
Tree and Shrub Purchases
Deciduous trees and shrubs are used to develop winter cover, loafing sites, travel lanes and predator protection for quail through shelterbelt planting.
Fire is one of the most important tools employed by the quail manager. QU chapters offer assistance and funding in performing many controller burns each year as part of their habitat improvement projects.
Water Site Development
Throughout the western quail range, providing water sites in the arid and semi-arid habitats is the single most important activity performed by Quail Unlimited chapters. Many biologists and chapter members have found that if a dependable water source is provided, the quail will thrive in an area where they formerly could only exist marginally.
Much of the water site work is performed by the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands under the challenge cost-share agreements.
Equipment Purchase, Rental and Maintenance
Providing equipment for conservation plantings and habitat management have proven to be a major QU activity. Burning equipment, including sprayers, mist and air blowers, drip torches and fire flappers, is the most common type of item followed by various types of grain and native grasses drills.
Root plows are commonly purchased by QU chapters, as they have been for many years. This tool is used to cut tree roots and sap soil moisture from adjoining field crops. The use of the tools helps farmers produce better crops next to tree rows and thereby reduce the incentive some farmers might have to remove existing tree rows and shelterbelts. Other equipment includes such items as discs, rotovators, water pumps, water site equipment, fabric mulch laying machines, cement mixers and all-terrain vehicles.
Direct Contacts are made between landowners/farmers at events such as landowner appreciation nights and attendance at farm equipment shows. These contacts are used to inform landowners of wildlife conservation assistance available to them through their local QU chapter or state and federal agency programs.
QU chapters also put on conservation field days to demonstrate conservation practices and conservation workshops during which participants are introduced to game bird management relevant to their area.
Most chapters perform a variety of other information and education activities to spread the conservation message. These include setting up booths at fairs, outdoor shows and gun and knife shows; publishing chapter newsletters; news releases and newspaper articles about chapter activities and projects; acquiring and showing conservation videos; and providing a variety of publication on game bird management and conservation.
Other Conservation Activities
A wide variety of other conservation activities are funded by QU chapters, the largest of which is providing contract labor to perform various habitat plantings and field work. Included in this group are such things as tractor fuel, fertilizer, quail whistle and brood counts, demonstration projects and let us not forget all those endless volunteered man-hours.
QU youth programs
QU’s new project to educate the bird hunters of tomorrow.
Started in Texas, a few years ago, by Dr. Dale Rollins, this program is starting to spread nationally. This rigorous camp teaches youth about leadership, quail, habitat and more. For more information on this program contact D. Rollins.
A week-long camp for youngsters age 10-15. The camps expose our future sportsmen to a variety of outdoor activities including hunter education, sportsmanship, wildlife habitat evaluation, conservation and ecology. A professional instructor and coordinator will be in charge of each camp with additional volunteer instructors from state and federal wildlife agencies, local QU chapters, universities, etc. The camps will be held at preserves which can provide room and board for the campers and instructors along with facilities for hiking, shooting activities, simulated hunting experiences and other outdoor activities. Youth Hunter Education
Quail Unlimited believes that all future sportsmen should be trained through a certified hunter education course. Therefore QU, in conjunction with the Hunter Education Association (HEA), will sponsor hunter education courses enabling all youth members to become certified by HEA, a goal QU is committed to.
Those interested in obtaining more detailed information on the new youth program or becoming involved, can contact:
QU National Headquarters
P. O. Box 610
Edgefield, SC 29824
(803) 637-5731, ext. 28 Published in The Messenger 11.15.07