Sunday, February 12, 2017

2016 Gamekeepers / Winter - Balancing Quail Management

A triumvirate of management goals is the goal
Farming for wildlife is a hobby that can turn into a passion, where each increase in intensity comes with a price. The majority of the acreage in the Southeast is privately held, and the majority of landowners keep the entire region in a blanket of pine plantations under heavy rotation. All wildlife species, and small game like quail in particular, benefit from early successional habitat. It’s not easy to dial back the popular practice of intensive timber management and then dial up a balancing act that benefits aesthetics and wildlife too, but it might be time to try.
Quail habitat and wind-related natural thinning 
Bobwhite and blog
For generations, sawtimber from pine trees along the coastal plain used to set the market when it came to top dollar prices for timber. Nothing stays the same forever and a slowly changing timber market was thrust into overdrive during the economic recession not quite a decade ago. With genetically enhanced seedlings and a white-hot export market, it’s likely that whole tree chipping is a term that most are now familiar with. Pine tree poles remain the holdout as a potential top dollar timber product despite the evolution of the timber market.
The highest best use for a tract of acreage has changed for some from strictly tree farming to an emphasis on recreational value. Hunting is normally the driver for this pivot towards conservation, but water quality issues are now coming to the forefront, and the word is slowing getting out that a suite of songbirds and big game including deer and turkeys can all benefit from a triumvirate of management goals.

As an upland game enthusiast, I can report having seen progress in regards to wild quail returning to the landscape. However, I would note that the recovery is slow in coming, but many gamekeeper management practices take a bit of time. Tree famers understand this commitment to the long term, and they can provide continuous habitat for varying the age of their pine stands in the future. The iconic whistle of a bobwhite quail, and the evening call of the Whippoorwill, sends the same message that ground nesting birds should not be missing from the landscape.

There is no link available to the entire feature article in the Winter 2016 issue. To join the Mossy Oak Gamekeeper club and receive a hat, Biologic seed samples and magazine subscription click here.

To view past blog entries from Gamekeepers Magazine click Summer 2016 - Spring 2016 Winter 2016 - Fall 2015 - Summer 2015 - Spring 2015 - Winter 2015 Fall 2014 - Summer 2014 - Spring 2014 - Winter 2013 

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