Harmony in the Habitat: Quail Forever, Tall Timbers and Federal Agencies Join Forces for Quail Conservation

Quail Forever volunteers are the front line of quail-habitat preservation. Not only do they proudly get their hands dirty when it comes to land restoration, but local chapters harness the power of their community to funnel resources into the national organization in support of conservation through lobbying, education, and relationships with government and non-government agencies, which all get behind the common goal of safeguarding quail through methodical land stewardship. 

Several of Quail Forever’s go-to partners are the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW), Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS), as well as the non-profit organization Tall Timbers. Tall Timbers pioneered prescribed burning to promote healthy quail landscapes, beginning in its own backyard of the legendary bobwhite quail belt called the Red Hills Region that encompasses North Florida and South Georgia.

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Big Bend Blues: Chasing Quail Through the Desert With a 1-Year Old Puppy

An electrifying jolt shot through my leg like a bolt of lighting, and yet the air still crackled with dryness. We yearned for a storm to soften the West Texas elements, but more immediately a four-inch cactus spine lodged in my blood-soaked pant leg stung like crazy. It was the first of many of this wasteland’s formidable defenses. The spine that had pierced deep enough also penetrated my psyche otherwise preoccupied with the pervasive silence only broken by loose desert rocks trodden by weathered boots and the paws of a single-minded puppy.

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Back to Basics with the Orvis Wingshooting School at the Mays Pond Sporting Grounds

Just because a clay target is called a “bird” doesn’t mean it has a brain, wings or instincts. For someone stepping from a skeet field into pheasant field it can be a humbling (and expensive) lesson to learn that the techniques and temperament acquired with clays shooting don’t automatically make us great wingshooters. Sometimes, after a disappointing performance on the prairies of North Dakota or the plantations of South Georgia, have put on our big-boy pants and admit it’s back to school.

Chances are that with a weathered tool bag of clays-shooting skills you’ll only need a tune-up to consistently bringing down those upland game birds – actually, fine-tuning the fundamentals summed up by the instructors as the Orvis Mays Pond Sporting Grounds in Monticello, Florida as “style.”

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An Unforgettable Dove Hunt… I Wish They’d Let Me Forget

Finally, I was old enough to shoot my break-open .410 shotgun without it knocking me to the ground, but my dad had recently gotten severely hurt in a horse riding accident and was unable to take me on my first dove hunt.

I was heartbroken; not only was my hero stuck in bed with his arm, leg, and ribs broken, but we also couldn’t do all the things we had planned to do, like going on my first dove hunt. 

Thankfully, my grandpa was willing to walk through his pasture with a five-year-old boy on a hot September afternoon.

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Duck Decoying Strategies to Bag More Birds

With increasing pressure on waterfowl, waterfowlers need to dig deeper into their bag of tricks to bring more birds closer.

Across North America, most waterfowlers probably use mallard decoys. Mallards flying over a pond expect to see big orange feet glowing like beacons in the water. Most decoys don’t come with feet, so glue two strips of orange ribbon to the decoys to simulate legs in the water. Tip each ribbon with a small sinker to hold it down.

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Moving into the U.S., Whistling Ducks Create More Hunting Opportunities

Sounding like squeaky wheels needing grease, about 50 squealing long-necked birds circled overhead before settling into the water just outside our decoys.

These birds looked like no other North American waterfowl. In flight, the gangly birds stretched out their elongated necks and dangled long legs behind them, looking more like an ibis than a duck. Their wings beat strong, but slow, more like geese than the frenzied flapping of other ducks. They also stand upright like geese and easily walk on land.

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Great Athletes

My two favorite activities, football and bird hunting are just a month away from their 2015 season. Like most hunters during this part of the year, I begin to plan and daydream for what is coming for both activities. Timing key dates for both has always been a struggle for me as I plan and try to do it all.

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