Six years ago, Wendall Bolin said there were essentially no quail left on his farm. He and his grandfather had hunted quail on the Greene County farm his entire life. He knew that the changes made to the land were responsible, and he wanted help to create a quail management plan.
Wendall is a cattleman who also trains horses and dogs. His 200-acre farm was primarily grass, with the exception of a wooded drainage that split the property. At the time, only quail, rabbits and coyotes had ever been hunted on the property. There were no deer or turkeys on the place.
We planted native grasses, shrubs, grain plots and a riparian buffer (the area along a stream bank that contains native grasses, flowers, shrubs and trees). We also put up fencing to exclude livestock. Quail numbers increased, and Wendall and his dogs now have many coveys to hunt. But that’s not the end of the story.
The first thing Wendall noticed as the new land management practices were put in place was the increase in the variety and number of songbirds. During a visit, he described several birds and asked if I knew what they were. During my next visit he had a bird book on the dash of his truck and was talking freely about all of the different grassland birds he and his wife had seen, as well as nesting great horned owls and barred owls. “I knew we would have more quail, but I am a little surprised by all the other stuff,” said Wendall.
Wendall doesn’t think he’s hunting unless he’s chasing a dog. When I met him, he had running dogs and bird dogs. Now, due to a very high rabbit population, he is breeding and training beagles. Rabbit chases are one of the most common practices on the farm. His family and friends gather often to run their beagles— daily, if the weather permits.
Wendall’s boys have started bowhunting. Last year by using trail cameras they documented seven bucks—on land that previously had no deer. They now also have nesting turkeys, and bobcats are seen regularly. The species list goes on and on.
When I met with Wendall the other day, I could hear a rabbit chase in the background, and he had a bird dog pup in the back of the vehicle. We were discussing some management strategies when he interrupted with “let me show you my new project.” He pulled out his phone and showed me a video of a new squirrel dog he was training.
We achieved Wendall’s goal to increase quail numbers, but the benefits from the land management practices have greatly exceeded that original plan. For Wendall, his family and friends, “all the other stuff” has provided a growing list of new outdoor activities to enjoy.
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