Finishing the Wild Bobwhite Quail Feeder

This is the second and concluding part of my post about building a wild bobwhite quail feeder that can withstand the ravages of deer, coons and other critters.  While the cost of wasted feed is a true dollar cost, the real cost is that the wild bobwhite quail don’t return to a feeder once it has been raided by critters and this makes it very difficult to have an accurate count of raising quail.  My primary purpose in building the feeders is to improve my method of counting the quail rather than to try and supplement their feed.  I will place the feeder in a primary quail habitat location.  The key difference with this wild bobwhite quail feeder is that it contains a small electric fence to keep the critters away.  This approach has worked successfully on deer feeders and I’m hoping that it will be successful on my wild bobwhite quail feeder.

On/Off Switch for the Bobwhite Quail Feeder

Switch for Bobwhite Quail Feeder
Silver Electrical Switch for Bobwhite Quail Feeder

Since the wild bobwhite quail feeder is electrified, it makes sense to have an On/Off switch to prevent getting shocked when tending the feeder.  If you’re raising quail, it is important to regularly tend the quail feeder.  I’ve seen situations where the electrical device attached to a feeder did not have a switch it the operator/tender regularly got a nasty shock.  I want to avoid that situation since the feeder will be located in a very brushy area which tend to be very good quail habitat.



Wiring Harness for the Bobwhite Quail Feeder

Brown and Yellow Internal Wiring Harness for Raising Quail Feeder
Internal Wiring Harness for Raising Quail Feeder

The internal wiring harness on the wild bobwhite quail feeder is simple.  There is a line running from the solar charger into the batter case, two lines running to the On/Off switch and a single line running to the bucket handle.  The entire system is grounded to the bucket handle which hangs from a metal rod attached to a metal T Post which is driven into the ground.  As part of my quail raising process, I put a T Post at each location where I place the surrogator which is near ideal quail habitat.



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Bobwhite Quail Feeder Electric Fence

Yellow Quail Feeder Insulators
Quail Feeder Insulators

The “electric fence” on the wild bobwhite quail feeder is built using stiff electric fence wire and six electric fence insulators.  The insulators are attached equidistant around the bucket approximately 2 inches up from the bottom of the bucket.  This will allow enough room to drill feed drainage holes to allow the feed to trickle to the ground while still deterring any critters from messing with the bucket itself.  The bucket will hang freely from a piece of rebar attached to a T Post and be allowed to swing in the wind.  The electric fence should help me retain more feed and lower my cost of raising quail while also making it easy to locate and tend when it is placed in prime quail habitat.



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Electric Fence Connections and Raising Quail

Silver Quail Feeder Electrical Wiring
Quail Feeder Electrical Wiring

The most challenging part of building the wild bobwhite quail feeder was the exit and re-entrance of the electrical wire, through the insulator so that the connections would be waterproof to the inside of the bucket.  This required some careful drilling and tricky pliers work but was accomplished without drilling any additional holes.  It is important to account for quail habitat and rain water spoilage and minimize it to help reduce the costs of raising quail.







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Completed Feeder Ready for Placement in Quail Habitat

Assembled White Quail Feeder
Assembled Quail Feeder

The fully assembled and completed wild bobwhite quail feeder.  It consists of a solar charger to charge a 12V battery, a large Coon Zapper capacitor, a simple On/Off switch, six electric fence insulators and a couple feet of electric fence wire and a five gallon bucket.  Total cost of the materials was approximately $75.  Yes, in terms of feeding wild quail that is expensive but in terms of having an accurate and effective way to determine wild quail population easily I think it’s worth it.  None of my previous methods have worked very well due to raids by critters which leads to an inability to get an accurate count of the birds, in their quail habitat, that I’ve released from raising quail.









Summary of a Wild Bobwhite Quail Feeder

My wild bobwhite quail feeder is completed and another important milestone in my process of raising quail and improving the quail habitat.  I’ve installed an On/Off switch to prevent getting shocked and grounded the electrical system to the handle which will ground via the T Post.  I’ve used regular electrical fence building materials to install a ring of charged electrical wire around the perimeter of the bucket.  The wild bobwhite quail feeder cost approximately $75 and is now ready for it’s first field test.



Finishing the Install of a Rain Water Collection System for Drip Irrigation System

I’ve finished installing my rain water collection system that I will use to power my drip irrigation system for my container vegetable garden.  We actually accomplished all of the work in about a half a day and it was fairly easy.  We levelled the tank, finished installing the collection and filter pipes and then installed the filter pipe drain and overflow piping.  I’m not ure of the roof surface area that this collector drains but will measure and report back next month.  All in all, installing a rain water collection system to power my drip irrigation system for my container vegetable garden was relatively easy and inexpensive.

Leveling the Rain Water Collection Tank

Red Levelling the Green Rain Water Collection Tank
Leveling the Rain Water Collection Tank

This rain water collection tank holds 1,000 gallons and that should be plenty to supply several months of water for my drip irrigation system.  It is approximately 9 feet tall by 5 feet wide.  I think it’s important that it is level because water weighs a little over 8 pounds/gallon and 1,000 gallons means the tank weighs approximately 4 tons when full.  That’s more than a large vehicle and it is definitely more top heavy than a large vehicle.  I doubt it will be subjected to the side to side movement that a vehicle is but I still think leveling the tank is important.







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Rain Water Collection Tank Pad Adjustments

Green Rain Water Collection Tank with Red Crushed Granite Pad
Rain Water Collection Tank Crushed Granite Pad

I save some of the crushed granite from when I originally built the pads for the rain water collection tanks and used some of that saved excess to push under the tank to level it.  The location of my tank, under my deck, is on the side of a hill and leveling this tank, as well as the drip irrigation system and deck container garden will be a challenge.








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Rain Water Collection Pipes

White Rain Water Collection Pipes Under Brown Decking for Drip Irrigation System
Rain Water Collection Pipes for Drip Irrigation System

The rain water collection piping system consists of collection pipes and a filter pipe.  The primary collection pipes are connected directly to the rain gutter down spouts running from the roof of my house.  In this case, we’re collecting from 2 downspouts and running both of them into a single tank.  I do have the ability to add additional downspouts collections in the future as well as adding additional tanks in the event that I want to expand my drip irrigation system.







Joining Rain Water Collection Pipes

Purple Gluing White Rain Water Collection Pipes for Container Vegetable Gardening
Gluing Rain Water Collection Pipes for Container Vegetable Gardening

In some cases I have cemented the pipe joints together.  I’ve done this where I know there will be water weight stress or that the rain water collection system design is close enough to final to be permanent.  In other cases, I’ve simply hand fitted the pipe joints together to allow for ease of movement if I find out that my system design has a flaw or I have a bad location for my drip irrigation system.








Rain Water Collection Filter Pipe

Assembled Drip Irrigation Rain Water Collection Filter Pipe
Assembled Drip Irrigation Rain Water Collection Filter Pipe

Most commercial and personal water rain water collection systems have a complex filter system to make the water potable.  In my case, the water is not intended to be potable, only to run my drip irrigation system.  Thus, I only really need a filter system to remove debris.  This filter system is the simplest but least efficient.  The design is intended for the first rain wash to fill the vertical pipe.  The first rain wash will contain the majority of the debris.  Once the vertical pipe is filled, the remaining collected rainwater fill flow into the tank.










Rain Water Collection Filter Pipe Drain

Outflow from Rain Water Collection for Container Vegetable Gardening
Outflow from Rain Water Collection for Container Vegetable Gardening

The vertical filter pipe in my rain water collection system needs some method of draining.  I am not reliable to remember to manually drain the filter pipe after each rain.  So, I’ve installed a faucet at the bottom of the pipe and opened it slightly to allow the filter pipe to drain slowly over time.  Although I can’t use this drainage water to directly supply my drip irrigation system, I will use it to supply my rained bed garden and another drip irrigation system I’m planning to try down there.  This design fails in two ways that are somewhat acceptable to me.  The first failure point is that it does not account for drainage of the debris.  The debris will still have to be manually cleaned by removing the entire end plug from the filter pipe.  The second failure is that this system will fail to collect rain water when the run off collected is less than the outflow from the faucet.  That means that a very slow drizzle or light rainfall may fail to collect in the tank.  I’ll have to use trial and error to determine rainfall amounts and collections versus the faucet settings for drainage so that I collect as much rainwater as possible without collecting too much debris.



Summary of Rain Water Collection System for Drip Irrigation Installation

I leveled my rain water collection tank, which is top heavy, to prevent any future problems.  I cemented some of the rain water collection pipes but only hand fitted others, depending on the water weight stresses and expectation of potential design changes.  I’ve installed the vertical filter pipe, faucet and drain hose and will begin recording rainfall and drainage amounts to optimize the outflow faucet settings and collect as much rain water as possible for my rain water collection system to power my drip irrigation system for my container vegetable garden.


Bobwhite Quail Hunting – Finally!

It’s been two years of hard work tending 7 surrogator cycles but I finally have a large enough wild population of wild bobwhite quail for quail hunting.  The hot, dry Texas Summer has passed and the light rains and cooler temperatures are allowing the bobwhite quail habitat to improve rather quickly.  It’s also the end of the annual Summer Surrogator season and time to bring the Surrogator in for Winter rehabilitation and repairs.  Time for some “barn work” and to enjoy the fruits of our quail raising and quail hunting labors over the past few years.


Bobwhite Quail and Water

Bobwhite Quail Hunting Needs Rolling Creek with Green Moss and Fresh Water
Bobwhite Quail Hunting Needs Fresh Water

Most of the research on raising quail for quail hunting that I’ve read tells me that bobwhite quail only need a direct source of water for drinking as a third option.  The research tells me that their primary source of water is environmental water – rain or dew – followed by metabolic water that they metabolize from the grains that they eat.  In the Surrogator, there is no rain or dew and they are fed dry protein so it is important to have drinkable water.  In the wild, nature provides most of what they need directly.









Bobwhite Quail Eat Bugs and Bugs Need Water

Clean Flowing Water Provides Small Young Bugs for Quail Hunting
Water Provides Bugs for Quail Hunting

Bobwhite quail chicks have very high protein requirements.  They get most of these high protein needs met from eating small bugs.  In this case, water becomes very important as most bugs and insects needs water to reproduce.  The long hot Texas Summer drought really had a huge impact on the number of available bugs – which has a direct impact on the number of quail reproduced for quail hunting.  Now, I didn’t get on my hands and knees to count bugs bug I can tell you that my windshield stayed pretty clean and I didn’t need to buy any extra bug spray this Summer and I take that as a pretty good indicator of the local bug population.








Bobwhite Quail Pairs

Male & Female Pair of Bobwhite Quail Near a Deer Feeder with Deer
Pair of Bobwhite Quail

We’ve been seeing and hearing signs of wild quail for quite a few months.  I’ve rally been itching to go quail hunting.  This game cam picture is our first real evidence of them coming to the deer feeders.  In the Spring, I estimated our population to be approximately 40 birds based on call counts in a single location.  I’ve seen them in other locations on the ranch so we estimated a 20% survival rate over the winter.  We released another 300 birds this Summer as well.







Quail Hunting Dog

Orange and White Brittany Spaniel Quail Hunting Dog on Point
Quail Hunting Dog on Point

I originally started this project because my Brittany was getting ruined on pen-raised quail and I wanted a convenient place to put her on wild quail.  She’s covered hundreds of iles on the ranch finding and pointing wild quail.  In this case, the surrogated wild quail have become very wild.  When we do find them, they are almost always in the deepest, thickest, thorniest brush that we have on the ranch.  That’s great for their survival but is certainly going to make hunting them tough!






Quail Hunting Harvest

Harvested Female Quail Hunting for Fruits of my Labor
Quail Hunting for Fruits of my Labor

I’m not confident that I have a large enough population that I can go quail hunting every weekend.  I’m going to lay off this year and only hunt them with the dog and then fire blanks so she can work on steady to wing and steady to shot – which quickly goes bad if you don’t hunt enough  horunt pen-raised birds by yourself.  I did want to harvest one bird so that I could get a closer look.  This, unfortunately, is a female and I would have preferred to have harvested a male – just like duck hunting – when you kill a female you stop all forward reproduction and when you kill a male, you only jeopardize forward production.  This appears to be one of this year’s released birds rather than a mature female.  This sub species tends to be smaller and redder than the native wild bobwhite quail we have for quail hunting in Texas.  They also seem to be quite a bit wilder and flush quicker than most wild birds I’ve hunted previously.





Surrogator Repairs

Example of Annual Surrogator Repairs - Silver Hinge Broken on Camoflage Door
Example of Annual Surrogator Repairs

I can’t say enough great things about the Surrogator.  It has held up extremely well for two years and appears to have at least another 3-5 years of life.  That said, it does need occasional repairs as the smaller parts wear out.  I bring the Surrogator back into the barn each winter to make the small repairs, thoroughly clean it and re paint it to prevent rust.










Loading the Surrogator for Transport

Bobwhite Quail Surrogator and Equipment Loaded in the bed of a White Pickup for Transport
Bobwhite Quail Surrogator Loaded for Transport

The thing I like most about eh Surrogator XL is the fact that it is so easily transported.  My 12 year old daughter and I can load the entire contraption and all of it’s parts and pieces into the short bed of my pickup and haul it whever we need.








Summary of Quail Hunting and the Surrogator

The long, hot drought has broken and the wild bobwhite quail habitat is quickly improving.  We’re seeing bobwhite quail pairs and babies on a regular basis.  I’ve been quail hunting once and harvested a young female bobwhite quail – it was very much a treat to see the fruits of my labors.  We don’t yet have a large enough wild population to support quail hunting but expect to continue the surrogator cycles and habitat improvements for another  couple of years.  The end of the surrogator season is also the start of the surrogator repair and rehabilitation season so we’ve loaded the surrogator up and brought it back to the barn for winter work.  It’s very satisfying to know that my efforts to restore a wild population of bobwhite quail is succeeding and that we will have good quail hunting in the very near future.