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Pen-raised Quail: Considerations For Release

Pen-raised Quail: Considerations For Release

 A shooting preserve license must be obtained from the Wildlife Resources Division, Game Management Section prior to releasing pen-raised birds other than for the purpose of training bird dogs. Applications are available from Game Management Section Region offices. Phone numbers are listed in the front of the Hunting Regulations.

The use of pen - raised quail should be viewed strictly as means to provide the desired level of shooting on areas that are not capable of producing enough wild birds to meet the shooting objective. There may be potential risks to wild quail and wild turkeys from the release of pen-raised quail. These risks include disease, increased predation and genetic degradation but are not well documented scientifically. Pen-raised birds that survive will pair and mate with wild birds but only at low levels and will not significantly contribute to the establishment or maintenance of a wild quail population. Obtaining quality birds and releasing these in areas with good habitat structure and with a protective feeding system is the key to providing good shooting. For preseason releases survival rates to hunting season of around 50% and return to hunter bag of 10% to 20% should be considered good. 

1. Producer Considerations 

a. Producers should have large flight pens with “natural habitat” inside including agricultural plantings. Some producers even feed their birds with a protective system (for example Anchor Covey type system). This may be an advantage if this is the type of feeding system used at the release site.

b. There should be no human contact with the birds after they have been put into the flight pen at around 6 weeks of age.

2. Release Recommendations

a. Release at 8 - 12 weeks of age preferably during early to mid October or at 4-6 weeks prior to the time that shooting begins.

b. Obtaining a trapping permit from the local DNR WRD Game Management Region Office and trapping mammalian predators for a month or so prior to the time of release may increase survival rates.

c. Release birds in quality habitat at the rate of about 25 birds per group with covey groups about 200-300 yards apart along the shooting course. Release about 2 birds per acre of suitable habitat.

d. If the bird producer has crops planted in the flight pen then plant the same type of food and cover at the release site.

e. Do not feed the birds on the day prior to release so they will be hungry and go straight to the feeder or spread feed when released.

f. Use a protective feed and watering system at the release site or spread feed. Feed birds under protective cover and not on open ground. 

g. Call back birds, live or electronic, have not been proven to be needed or beneficial. 

Known Vendors

1. R&W Quail Farm – Waynesboro Ga. – Perritt Rabun – 706-554-2410

2. Harrell & Sons  Bobwhite Quail – Hayneville, Ala. – Richard Harrell – 205-548-2313

3. Quail Valley – Indian Trail, N.C. – Stan Redfern – 704-753-4464

4. David Poole – 229-224-0961

In addition to the above the Farmers Market Bulletin or the Internet may be good sources of information for pen reared bird producers.


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