also remove cool-season grasses such as tall fescue and smooth brome to make it easier for quail to walk on the ground, and they plant low-growing shrubs to provide escape cover for quail coveys. They also strip-disk old fields and plant warm-season grass stands to encourage annual plants and insects, which are a vital food source for young quail.
Other quail management techniques include edge feathering and brush-pile construction to create winter and escape cover between open land and forest. Additionally, area managers restore natural communities that provide good habitat such as such as glades, woodlands, savannas and prairies.
These aren’t the only conservation areas where hunters can find quail. As a part of the Strategic Guidance for Northern Bobwhite Recovery (Missouri’s quail recovery plan), the Department is working to improve quail and grassland bird habitat on many conservation areas. In fact, the Missouri Department of Conservation completes approximately 80,000 acres of quail-friendly habitat work each year on conservation areas throughout the state. Of that, about 12,000 acres of habitat work is completed on the Department’s 19 Quail Emphasis Areas.
Two weeks later, I returned to the same conservation area to try my luck again. This time, I was alone with the dogs. I was excited because I thought I knew the locations of at least four coveys. That late in the season, I figured hunting pressure would have moved the birds to heavier cover.
My strategy was to hunt the thick woody draws where most hunters don’t venture. Many of these draws were impenetrable, as trees had been purposely cut down and left as habitat for quail and rabbits—a habitat practice sometimes called edge feathering. The strategically cut woody cover provides ideal escape and winter cover for quail and other wildlife.
Showing a little common sense, I walked along the edge of the nearly impassable woody draw and let the dogs search the thick stuff. Greta, the “edge specialist,” also decided to run the edge just in front of me and leave the hard work for Babe and Gretchen.
Ahead of us fluttered cardinals, juncos, finches and a variety of winter sparrows. Occasionally, a cottontail rabbit darted out of the thick cover. One jumped out from underneath Babe’s feet and briefly distracted her from the hunt. Good quail cover provides great habitat for lots of wildlife.
I spotted Babe creeping on her belly, and then she disappeared into a cluster of downed tree branches and