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Chop and Drop This Winter

Published on: Dec. 11, 2012

What a great time of the year! Ever think what else needs to be done during the winter months, between weekend tailgating, chasing kids with fall/winter sports, and the Super Bowl? Instead of sitting inside on the weekends, get the chainsaw tuned up and create escape cover for bobwhite quail and rabbits.

The lack of escape cover is often identified as a limiting factor on many farms in Missouri. One of the greatest needs for bobwhite quail and rabbits is low shrubby cover. If you look at today’s fencelines and wooded areas, the shrubs have turned into trees! In the 1960s, when quail populations were at their highest, these areas contained lots of shrubs and weeds.

Quail need this protective escape cover throughout the year and is necessary for eluding predators such as hawks, owls, foxes, and house cats. Protective cover must persist throughout the year, especially during cold weather when thermal protection is needed. These areas can be as small as a 30 foot by 50 foot area. This is where the chainsaw comes in, as well as all the safety gear, chaps, gloves, helmet and safety glasses.

Field edges that are overgrown with mature trees, fence rows that have large trees and old ditches are great places to establish the needed escape cover for quail. Simply cutting the trees down and windrowing them into the edge along the field will give instant cover for quail and other song birds as well as great cover for rabbits. By cutting these canopy trees and allowing the sun to penetrate the ground, will allow annual weeds and shrub species to grow, such as grey dogwood and American plum. Hint; look for areas that already have these species in the undergrowth to start your cuttings. A couple things to remember when making these escape cover habitats; 1) spray/herbicide treat cut tree stumps 2) if any cool season grasses are present, they need to be sprayed with a herbicide to provide bare ground under the downed structures. This spraying can usually be done up to Thanksgiving with a glyphosate based product.

By conducting these escape cover habitats along the edges of your farm, you will be providing more useable acres throughout your farm. So get out, tune up and cut down.

Visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gy6hGunlpK8 for video how-to on edgefeathering

If you would prefer to receive a DVD with these instructions, please contact the Department of Conservation at 573-522-4115,extension 3251, and ask for the Private Land Care DVD.

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