National Quail Symposium Proceedings


There has been increased interest in releasing pen-reared northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) to meet quail hunting and shooting objectives as populations have declined. The Surrogatort is a commercially available product for rearing and releasing gamebirds into the wild and is promoted as a method to enhance bobwhite survival, improve hunting, and increase recruitment from natural reproduction. We used return-to-hunter bag data from 3 properties in Alabama, Georgia, and Kentucky to evaluate the Surrogatort as a pre-hunting season release technique for pen-reared bobwhites. Across all sites, 3,859 5-week old banded bobwhite chicks were released at varying times during June through October, 2005–2010. Ninety-three quail hunts were conducted during November through January 2005–2011 comprising 431 hunt party hours which resulted in 19 banded bobwhites being harvested. The return-to-hunter bag for all sites combined was 0.005 (range 1⁄4 0.000 to 0.008). This was considered unsatisfactory at each site and across all sites combined for a quality hunting/shooting experience. The mean cost per chick released was $3.41 (range 1⁄4 $2.74 to $3.88) including the costs of quail chicks, Surrogatort units, propane, and feed across all sites. The mean cost per bird returned-to-hunter bag (Alabama and Georgia) was $655.80 (range 1⁄4 $489.91 to $821.68). These costs did not include economic depreciation of Surrogatort units.