Newly Designed Wild Quail Feeder Update

My revised model for my wild quail feeder has been in the quail habitat for several months now and it is performing well. The primary goal of using the wild quail feeder for raising wild quail was to stop the raiding of the feed by the critters. That goal has been completely met – critters almost completely avoid the wild quail feeder now – possibly due to the small electric fence built into the quail feeder itself. However, there has not been any wild quail traffic at the feeder – probably for two reasons. It has been a very wet and rainy Spring in Central Texas and there is no shortage of wild available quail feed. Second, while the wild quail feeder is located in a good bobwhite quail habitat area and where I have seen coveys previously, I think it may be too exposed for them to feel comfortable coming to the wild quail feeder and I think the holes that deliver the feed may be too small for the quail feeder to be truly effective.

 

 

Wild Quail Feeder Deployed in the Field

White Bucket Wild Quail Feeder Installed in Green Pasture
Wild Quail Feeder Installed

The installation of the quail feeder was easy and went as expected. It hangs from a T post and a piece of re-bar secured with some u bolts and hose clamps. This makes the quail feeder easily portable to new areas where I am raising wild quail. It also makes it very easy to site in quail habitat locations that are accessible and then be re-sited when needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rain and Dew Protection on the Wild Quail Feeder

White Bucket Quail Feeder with Brown Dirt Splash Weathers Storms
Quail Feeder Weathers Storms

The quail feeder does have a weakness and that is that it is possible for rain to either bounce from the ground or drip down the sides and clog the feed in the quail feeder holes. I also believe that the feeder holes are too small in that they require activity to cause quail feed to drain rather than draining feed via gravity. My next step is to enlarge the holes that deliver the quail feed so that they easily respond to gravity when the wind blows the quail feeder.

 

 

 

 

 

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Drainage of Quail Feed

Partiall Empty White Bucket Bobwhite Quail Feeder Supplementing Quail Habitat
Bobwhite Quail Feeder Supplementing Quail Habitat

The first month on site in the quail habitat the quail feeder delivered most of the five gallons of feed stored in the container. Due to the battery and electronics compartment within the quail feeder, the feed needs to drain around that compartment. As long as the feed stays dry, it appears that the feed delivery works well and my efforts in raising wild quail will be supplemented.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Critter Action at the Wild Quail Feeder

White Bucket Bobwhite Quail Feeder Showing Squirrel Damage
Bobwhite Quail Feeder Damage

There appears to have been some squirrel or rat action at the quail feeder that was not caught on camera. The benefit to using an inexpensive five gallon bucket and lid combination as part of my strategy raising wild quail is that I can replace the lid on the quail feeder for about a dollar and a few minutes with a screwdriver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bobwhite Quail Predator Control

Black and White Photo of Feral Cat Wild Quail Predators at Quail Feeder
Wild Quail Predators at Quail Feeder

In the off season October to May, when I’m not actively raising wild quail, I don’t visit the ranch as much and my predator control activities in my quail habitat areas wane. A game camera is a very valuable tool to keep a reasonable count on the predator population. I’ve heard many times about the impact of feral cats on wild quail but haven’t seen any at my place until this picture in the Spring of 2012. It must be time to restart my predator control activities – especially around the wild quail feeder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary of Newly Designed Wild Quail Feeder Update

My newly designed wild quail feeder worked well in my selected quail habitat area. My strategy in raising wild quail is to provide sufficient feed so that I can keep a reasonably accurate population census. I invest a lot of time and money raising quail in my quail surrogator so it just makes sense to follow up to see how well I’m doing. It met the primary goal of fending off feed stealing critters. It did not meet the goal of attracting wild quail. The quail feed is draining well enough but could use some improvement with larger quail feed drainage holes. It does not seem to be effected by rain or dew. Three months into the deployment, I’ve had surprising little damage and what has occurred can be repaired for a few dollars within a few minutes. Predators are showing themselves again and it appears to be time to resume my predator control activities to protect the wild quail that may be attracted to the wild quail feeder.

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Read about the first challenge we faced when determining the best method to feed quail.

Hunting Quail Feeder – How To Do It

I continue on my quest to find the best and least expensive way to make a hunting quail feeder to help me count the quail population so I can improve my quail hunting opportunities.  My previous posts about my first prototype quail feeder showed me learning a simple system to store and deliver the feed but that model was not adequately protected from deer and coons.  We’ve had some very good experiences using electrified zappers on the deer feeders to keep the deer and coons from raiding them.  I’ve also noticed that once the deer, and especially the coons, raid a quail feeder, that they quail generally won’t return to that feeder.  I learned of a new method from a hunting guide in New Mexico that uses a cheap five gallon bucket.  I’m testing that approach but also electrifying it to see if that improves the performance of my hunting quail feeder!

Parts to Build a Hunting Quail Feeder

Hunting Quail Feeder Parts Laid Out on Yellow Table for Raising Quail for Hunting
Hunting Quail Feeder Parts for Raising Quail for Hunting

The material to build the hunting quail feeder are pretty simple.

– A cheap 5 gallon bucket

– A waterproof container for the battery and zapper

– A solar charger for the battery

– A 12V Battery

– A Zapper

– Electric fence wire

– Electric fence insulators.

All in, the total price was approximately $75 in parts – the majority of which was the battery, zapper and solar charger.  Quail feed for my hunting quail feeders is approximately $15/bag so if this saves me 5 bags of feed over the course of a year, then I’m ahead – not to mention actually having a quail feeder that works to help me survey the population of bobwhite quail for hunting.

 

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Mounting the Solar Battery Charger on the Quail Feeder Lid

Silver and Black Hunting Quail Feeder Solar Charger Mounted on White Bucket
Quail Feeder Solar Charger

The purpose of the solar charger is to continually recharge the 12V battery and keep the zapper working in the hunting quail feeder.  I’ve mounted the solar charger on the lid of the bucket and run the wire, with a sealing O ring down through the top of the bucket lid.  This should prevent most moisture but I will add a small amount of silicone caulk to each hole in the lid just to be sure.  The lid will have a tendency to hold a small amount of rainwater and I don’t want it running into the bucket and ruining the feed in the hunting quail feeder.

 

 

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Detail of a Waterproof Lid Design

Detail of Hunting Quail Feeder Water Tight Seal on White Bucket Lid
Hunting Quail Feeder Water Tight Seal

I selected a durable but inexpensive solar charger from Academy Sports.  It came with a sealing O ring and bracket so it was easy to use and mount on my hunting quail feeder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Assembling the Battery Unit in the Hunting Quail Feeder

Raising Quail for Hunting Quail Feeder Black 12V Battery with White Bucket Layout
Raising Quail for Hunting Quail Feeder Battery Layout

The waterproof container is mounted inside the hunting quail feeder and contains the 12V battery and the zapper.  I’ve run the wire from the solar charger into the top of the water proof container.  I could just place the battery and zapper directly inside the bucket but most quail feed has some moisture and I wanted to prevent any corrosion problems with the battery terminal connection on the hunting quail feeder.

 

 

 

 

 

Battery Case in the Quail Feeder

Hunting Quail Feeder Black Battery with Red Wires and Clear Waterproof Container Details
Quail Feeder Battery Details

I’ve place the wired 12V battery and the zapper inside of the small water proof container and will place it inside the bucket of the hunting quail feeder.  These holes in the waterproof container will also need some silicone caulk to prevent any moisture from leaking into the battery case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary of Assembling a Hunting Quail Feeder

My previous attempts at building a quail feeder were successful to feed the quail but unsuccessful in keeping the varmints from raiding the hunting quail feeder.  I’ve learned of a new approach that appears to be simpler and easier to manage.  I’ve purchased and assembled the parts I need to build the hunting quail feeder for approximately $75.  The quail feeder will contain a built in battery, zapper unit and be protected by it’s own electrified fence.  This should provide adequate protection at a reasonable cost from the coons and deer raiding my hunting quail feeder.

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Bobwhite Quail Feeder & Rainwater Collection

 

The long, hot Texas Summer is drawing to a close but the very dry weather has me continuing to work on my bobwhite quail feeder.  I’m counting on the bobwhite quail feeders to help me support the growing bird population and also provide an relatively easy place to monitor the size and health of the coveys.  Once I’ve solved the quail feeder problem, I’m going to work on providing areas with moisture to support the attraction of bugs so that the bobwhite quail chicks have a place to find the high protein food they need.

Texas Summer Drought

Dry Weather Picture of Dry River Bed Hurting Bobwhite Quail
Dry Weather Hurting Bobwhite Quail

This is a picture of the Blanco River about an hour North of San Antonio, Tx.  This river seldom runs dry and, as you can see, it is almost completely dry with only a few stagnant water holes left.  I’m sure there is some water flowing underneath because of the green vegetation in the river bed but most of the folks living in this area have had their wells run dry and their rainwater collection systems run dry as well.  This is a great indicator of why a bobwhite quail feeder is almost a requirement this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bobwhite Quail Feeder Problem

Silver Aluminum Prototype Collar with Cage on Bobwhite Quail Feeder
Prototype Collar on Bobwhite Quail Feeder

I’ve copied a bobwhite quail feeder design from another fellow who is having good success with his feeders but I hvae not yet solved the problem of keeping the other hungry critters away from the bobwhite quail feed.  I load these feeders with scratch grains and each feeder holds about 15 pounds of feed.  Between the deer, coons and hogs, they can clean me out in a week.  I tried the cage around the feeder and the critters just lifted it up.  So, I put a collar on the feeder to prevent them from lifting it up and they just tunnel underneath it.  Not mention that the coons just push right through the little 4 inch square holes.  Each of these steps has reduced the amount of feed I’m giving away but has not eliminated it.  Additionally, I seldom see quail at a feeder once it has been found and raided by the critters.  I think the quail can either smell or sense the critter activity and avoid that location.

 

Hoof Rats Raiding the Bobwhite Quail Feeder

Night Photo of a Bobwhite Quail Feeder Being Raided by Deer on It's Knees
Bobwhite Quail Feeder Raided by Deer

Deer are little more than hoof rats.  They will get into and almost destroy anything that has feed in it.  Now, I don’t mind feeding the deer as they are valuable wildlife and we do enjoy hunting them.  That said, I want them to eat at the deer feeders and not the bobwhite quail feeder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Optimum Feed Flow in a Bobwhite Quail Feeder

White Plastic Bobwhite Quail Feeder Showing Feed Flow onto Ground
Bobwhite Quail Feeder Feed Flow

The current design of the feed flow in the bobwhite quail feeder is working well.  I finally got the holes large enough that the feed will flow with gravity but not flow too much.  This was a challenging exercise and I had to bring a drill and drill bit with me each week and continue to slightly enlarge the holes until I achieved the proper feed flow.

 

 

 

 

 

Commercial Rainwater Collection System with Enhancements

Green Plastic Rainwater Collector with Increased Size of Aluminum Panel Sheeting
Rainwater Collector Increased Size

Rainwater collection systems are growing in popularity in Central Texas – especially with the recent drought.  Texas A&M is predicting that this drought will last another 7 to 10 years so we are investing in rainwater collectors to support our wildlife.  The basic unit is a 250 gallon tank which is hooked to a water hose and runs to a watering bowl with a float in it.  The basic collection area is approximately 6 feet by 8 feet and collects approximately 1 gallon of water per square foot for each 1 inch of rain.  In addition to installing more rainwater collectors, we came up with the idea of simply increasing the collection area on the existing collectors.  Rain has been sparse and increasing the amount of rain collected during each rain event has proven to be an inexpensive and valuable approach.  IN this case, we tripled the rainwater collection area and increased our collection rate from 48 gallons per inch of rain to well over 120 gallons per inch of rain.

 

DIY Rainwater Collection System

New Blue Plastic Barrel Rainwater Collector for Bobwhite Quail
New Rainwater Collector for Bobwhite Quail

While there are affordable commercial rainwater collection systems, they aren’t cheap.  They cost approximately $750 to build and install.  We invented our own with cheap plastic barrels to hold the rainwater and scrap iron.  The total dollar cost on this unit was less than $150.  However, the labor cost was higher as it required some time to thin, design, engineer, install and tune this system.  You can see the float controlled water bowl in the foreground.  The three barrels are connected via simple piping and this unit has a 150 gallon capacity.  It will be easy to expand the capacity with additional barrels if and when it might be needed.

 

 

 

Seep Muhlie and Underground Water

Dun Colored Seep Muhlie Plants Indicate Underground Water Potential for Bobwhite Quail
Seep Muhlie Plants Indicate Water for Bobwhite Quail

Seep Muhlie is a plant that occasionally indicates the presence of underground water.  Big Muhlie, a larger variety, definitely indicates the presence of an underground spring.  We’ve tried water witching or dowsing several times and always get a very positive reading over seep muhlie.  Additionally, the soil where seep muhlie grows tends to be heavy with clays which is also a good indicator of either underground water or water holding capability.

 

 

 

 

 

What Lies Under Seep Muhlie?

Shallow Excavation in Clay Soil Under Seep Muhlie Plants Showing Soil Strata
Shallow Excavation Under Seep Muhlie

We needed some extra fill dirt for a barn we recently built so we had the contractor take the dirt from underneath a small area where seep muhlie were growing.  I was hoping we’d tap right into a flowing spring (not really) but we didn’t find anything except more dry clayish dirt.  I’m not done yet as I do believe in the effectiveness of the dowsing rods.  Nevertheless, I do think this area has god water holding capacity so we also located the dig near a spot that will have good runoff if and when it does rain.

 

 

 

 

 

Summary of Rainwater Collection and Bobwhite Quail Feeder

The Texas drought is drawing to a close.  We’ve had a bit of rain recently and the temperatures are cooling off.  Too little too late I think and we are doubling down on our support mechanisms for our wildlife.  I continue experimenting with my bobwhite quail feeder to reduce the feed loss due to critters.  We also continue to invest time and money in rainwater harvesting and collection.  It’s going to be a tough winter for the wildlife but early indications are that our current efforts are helping.  Our white tail deer population is maturing nicely and we are regularly seeing bobwhite quail near the bobwhite quail feeder, in small groups with babies and in larger coveys.

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