That's why I asked my brother-in-law to "help" me build a Johnny House. Actually, he did most of the building. I just did what I was told.
It took us half a day to finish the Johnny House. For a few dollars you can buy Johnny House plans on the Internet. The plan was easy to follow. We did have to make a few minor modifications as a result of my poor measuring abilities. The Johnny House didn't cost much either. We had enough scrap wood and hardware to construct most of the house. The only costs were the plans, some hardware cloth, hinges and a couple bandages for the screw I drilled through my finger. The finger is fine.
All I have left to do is build a feeder and waterer from some leftover PVC pipe. If that doesn't work I can always purchase a feeder and waterer on the Internet or from the local feed store. Something tells me I should just buy the feeder and waterer now.
You might be wondering why a quail biologist would ever build a Johnny House or even admit to using pen-raised quail. I still believe that creating good habitat is the key to restoring bobwhite numbers. The proof is in the success stories we continue to receive from landowners who have done habitat work. I'm building a Johnny House to train a new pup (German shorthair of course) and eventually my two boys. There's a reason and purpose for using pen-raised birds. Check out my blog on pen-raised quail.
My boys are just 3 and 5, but they already like quail, bird dogs and getting dirty at the farm. The picture below pretty much says it all. They are nothing but trouble. I predict they will "accidentally" burn down one of the old barns at the farm before the oldest is 10.
When they are old enough, we'll release a few birds and work on gun safety and shooting over dogs. Not to mention pen-raised birds are a good way to train a young dog. I can't think of a better way to spend the afternoon with my boys. When they're ready for the real thing we'll chase wild quail on public and private land.
It's always a good idea to check your state's regulations on captive-raised quail before you build a Johnny House or release birds. In Missouri, the best permit for working dogs on less than 40 acres is the dog-training area permit. I'll need to apply for the permit before I buy any birds. For Missouri landowners interested in using captive quail, pheasants or exotic partridges, check out the new captive-reared quail and regulations brochure.
Pen-raised quail aren't the solution to restoring bobwhites, but they do provide landowners and hunters an easy way to train dogs and encourage youth to take up a great sport. Improving habitat is still the key to restoring bobwhite quail.