In 1991 Dr. Paul Callicoat purchased his Southwest Missouri farm and decided that the north 200 acres would be devoted to quail management (he enjoys working his quail dogs, a lot!). In 1993 he contacted the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and a management plan was developed. Over the next several years he began to implement his practices, but his work didn’t allow him to devote as much time as he wanted.
Then in 2007 Dr. Callicoat contacted us again. We reviewed his previous plan and addressed the woody encroachment (oaks and hickories) that had occurred. He contracted the mechanical clipper to cut the poles and he sprayed and used prescribed fire for the saplings. We were able to offset some of the cost by using MDC cost share.
The initial treatment with herbicide killed the woodies and allowed more sunlight to hit the ground. Since the shade was eliminated, an increase in native grasses and forbs occurred. This increased the fuel load for prescribed fire which keeps the woodies in check. He created brush piles from the poles that were cut and disks around these piles. And he randomly disks throughout his tract and plants food plots or lets it sit idle. With the number of burn units Dr. Callicoat has, he’s able to rotate his burns and still provide the habitat diversity that quail need. Dr. Callicoat has seen his covey count increase to eight coveys last winter (his highest).
We were driving around his property last week looking at his progress and talking about this project. He mentioned that back when he started in the '90s he felt intimidated by what needed to be done, felt he might do something wrong and mess it up. This last go around he wasn’t worried about messing anything up. He said you have to “do something” or you’ll never get anything done. I’d have to agree…eight coveys aren’t bad!