Monday, November 17, 2014

Apparently Quail Like Sorghum-Sudangrass

Today was the day that I finally put the cattle on my field of sorghum-sudangrass.  If it hadn't been for the early cold snap we had last week, I would have put them on sooner, but since I've never liked the combination of cold, biting wind and building electric fences, and it isn't that big of a deal to wait a few days to start grazing it, I decided to wait a few days.  

Right after opening the gate, I walked the electric fences to double-check that the deer hadn't knocked them down and almost immediately jumped the biggest covey of quail (20-25 birds) that I've seen in a very long time.  I was thinking that quail might be attracted to this sort of winter cover, but it's nice to have my thinking confirmed by actually seeing that many on a cold, snowy day. 

If I added some sunflowers, buckwheat, or cowpeas to the sorghum-sudangrass, I wonder how many more quail I could raise?    A bird dog would be next to impossible to see in that tall grass, but it would be a heck of a hunt if I had a hundred acres of sorghum-sudangrass full of quail and a good bird dog.
Before the cattle have started grazing
Even more surprising was the number of rabbit tracks I saw in the mowed strip where the electric fence is.  One day of snow, extra cold temperatures, and the rabbits were running everywhere.  A beagle would have ran himself ragged and gone hoarse in that field. 
Rabbit tracks running all over the place
I planted this field of sorghum-sudangrass to feed my soil and a few cattle, but if it will also feed the quail, rabbits, hawks, coyotes, and hopefully some pheasants in the future then it's well  worth the $15/acre it cost to plant.


  1. Back when we had quail, I usually found them hunkered down under cedar trees in short canary grass. In tall stuff like what you have, we always found the pheasants. But a few hard winters in a row put the kabosh on the quail population and I haven't seen one in about 25 years. Its a shame because I remember them as good eating.

    I don't rabbit hunt but there are a group of doctors that come down several times a year to hunt rabbits on my dad's farm with beagles. They've been hunting the same 160 acres since I was just a boy and as far as I know, they've always gotten their limit. It is about 3/4 of a mile from the home far as a crow flies and I love hearing those beagles go to town on those rabbits. It is nothing but constant shooting and dogs barking until they get their limit.

    1. I saw something about improving quail habitat one time that suggested running a disc over pastures to encourage the growth of ragweed which apparently is a quail super-food. It sounded to me like controlling each and every weed in pastures and cropland might be why the quail populations have dropped. I never worried excessively about weeds in my pastures, but after that I just tell people that little patches of weeds are my quail food plots. But, I still don't like weeds in my cropland if I can help it.

      This fall, I kept hearing pheasants cackling about half a mile away on a neighbors sorghum field and I've been hoping that they'd show up in my fields. I usually see a few each year, but I haven't seen any at all this year.

      There's no pheasant hunting season here, but the pheasant hunting area is only about 4 miles away, so there's always a possibility that there might be a pheasant hunting season here in the future. That's one reason I'll keep planting grain sorghum and sorghum-sudangrass.