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.

Drip Irrigation and Shades for the Container Garden

Texas Heat and Drip Systems for Decks and Containers

The deck container garden is coming along nicely.  It’s been quite hot and dry in Central Texas and the drip system for deck and containers that I use has been very helpful.  Every plant, except the strawberries, has a planter box irrigation emitter and has bloomed.  For container gardening, should they bloom this early/young and should I allow them to keep their blooms?  Even through the dry weather, the drip system for decks and containers that I use for planter box irrigation has continued to be set on 5 minutes twice daily and the soil moisture appears to be sufficient.  I don’t have anything to test the soil moisture in the irrigation planter boxes but it appears to be OK.

Early Blooms in the Planter Boxes with Drip Irrigation

Container Gardening Cucumber with Blooms
Cucumbers Blooming in an Irrigation Planter Box

The cucumbers were the first plants in the container garden to begin blooming.  Some of the blooms even progressed far enough to start little cucumbers.  I’ve read that cucumbers will start blooming first.  Since this is supposed to be a high volume/space deck garden, I think it is more important for the plants to invest in size rather than reproduction at this point.  I have a fertilizer feeder for the irrigation system but have not yet added any fertilizer to the mixture – the plants are receiving tap water only at this point.

Container Garden Tomato Plant Blooming
Tomato Plant Blooming using Drip System for Deck and Containers

Then, within a day or so, the cherry tomatoes started blooming as well.  This is going to be a great cherry tomato plant when it matures but I think it is still too young to spend its energy on blooms and reproducing.  In the past, I’ve been told that container gardening or changing the water schedule for a plant pot can cause plant blooming.  The water schedule has not changed and there has been no rain to speak of.

Plant Pot Tomato Plant Blooms
Tomato Plant Blooms in Irrigation Planter Box

Even the small variety patio tomato plan start producing blooms.  In fact, it produced the most blooms of all.  Sure it is too early and young for beginning to produce fruit.  I use a drip system for decks and containers in this container garden for all of the plants in the garden and they all receive the same amount of water at the same time and frequency.

Container Garden Tomato Blooms
Tomato Blooms using Drip Systems for Deck and Containers

Actually, I’m kind of impressed with the close up quality of these pictures.  Each planter box irrigation setup in the deck garden has one one gallon per hour emitter dedicated to it.  This is a picture of the blooms on the patio variety tomato plant, which is dramatically shorter but stockier than the traditional variety tomato plants.  Nevertheless, each tomato plan is receiving the same amount of water from the drip irrigation system.

Container Garden Tomato Blooms
Tomato Blooms in an Irrigation Plant Pot

The yellow tomato plant pot was the last plant to produce blooms.  This tomato plant is also a cherry variety but has yellow tomatoes instead of red ones.  This tomato plant is the thirstiest of all of the plants.

Blooming Pepper Plants in a Container Garden
Blooming Pepper Plants Using Planter Box Irrigation

Even the pepper plants started blooming.  All of the plants in planter boxes in the container garden receive the same amount of water from the drip irrigation system and are planted in identical containers.  Nevertheless, I rigorously hunted and plucked each of the blooms on a weekly basis.

New and More Shades to Protect Soil Moisture for the Irrigated Planter Boxes

Deck Garden with Drip Irrigation System
Deck Garden with Drip System for Deck and Containers

The plant box shade that I built as a pilot project seem to be working well.  Additionally, the Texas Summer heat is starting and I want to avoid the soil temperature problems I had last summer.  So, I built out the balance of the planter box shades and installed them on each plant box.  The plant box shades are only three sided to avoid any problems or interference with the drip irrigation system for decks and containers that runs on the back side of each plant box.

Plant Cage Detail for Container Gardening
Irrigation Planter Box Cages

We also have a deck shade, not for the plants, for the dogs, and my wife noticed that the plant cages were too tall to accommodate the shade.  It’s getting hot enough now that the dogs need more shade and the kiddie wading pool to keep cool during the long hot Texas Summer.  It also helps the gardener while container gardening.  So, it was time to trim back the plant cages.  It was easy enough because I had the foresight to use hose clamps to hold the plant box cages together so it was a simple matter of moving the hose clamps downward approximately twelve inches and then trimming the tops of the cages. The cages are mounted high so they also don’t interfere with the planter box irrigation.

Irrigated Deck Container Garden
Deck Garden with Drip Systems for Deck and Containers

Here, the plant cages for the container garden have been trimmed and the planter box shades have been installed.  Both the shades and the cages avoid any interference with the drip irrigation system for the container garden on the deck.

Shade for Planter Boxes
Container Gardening Shade to Cover Irrigation Planter Boxes

The deck shade has been install and the dogs now have a cool place on the deck and the shade won’t get torn up on the ragged tops of the plant cages.  It’s interesting to note that I had this same shade last year but it did not prevent the planter boxes from overheating.  I’m betting on the plant box shades to prevent overheating this year.  I haven’t yet measured the soil temperature with a soil thermometer but will do so prior to my next post.

The Irrigated Planter Boxes Flower

Drip System Cucumbers in a Plant Pot
Cucumbers in an Irrigation Planter Box

The cucumbers continue to grow and flower.  Since the plants have been planted 9 weeks, I’ve decided to let them flower and product fruit to see what happens.  I’d prefer that they be larger before producing but will experiment to see what happens.  I expect that I will need to increase the watering cycle in the irrigation for planter boxes soon to accommodate this change in growth and the smaller planter boxes I use in container gardening.

Deck Container Tomato Garden
Deck Container Tomatoes in a Planter Box with Irrigation

The cherry tomatoes have continued flowering as well.  This is a smaller plant than the yellow tomato plant but seems to produce denser blooms.  I double checked the planter box irrigation emitters to make sure this plant was receiving the same amount of water as the others.

Deck Container Tomato Plant
Tomato Planter in Planter Box with Drip System for Deck and Containers

The patio variety tomato plant does not seem to require a container garden plant cage for it’s plant pot.  It’s stem is very thick and strong and it’s branches are short and dense.  It will be interesting to compare this plant to the other tomato plants in terms of production as well as drip irrigation water usage.

Deck Container Caged Tomatoes
Container Garden Caged Tomatoes with Irrigation Planter Box

The yellow cherry tomato plant is the fastest grower of the bunch.  It’s stem and branches are slimmer but does not seem to use any more drip system water than the other plants.

Pepper Plant in a Deck Planter Box
Container Garden Pepper Plant in a Planter Box with Drip Irrigation

The pepper plants are going gang busters.  In one case, I already have a very small pepper already.  This planter box has two planter box irrigation emitters to provide one for each plant in the box.

Strawberry in a Planter Box
Strawberry in Deck Garden with Planter Box Irrigation

The strawberry plant continues to lag the field in the container garden.  It does show some growth but not very much.  The soil appears to be quite dry but the drip irrigation emitter is sitting directly on top of the root system and all of the water from the irrigation system is going directly to the plant’s roots

Drip Irrigation System Deals & Discount

I get my supplies for my drip system for deck and containers from a specialist who has great products and great deals.  This week, they are offering some amazing discounts and free shipping.



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Hunting Wood Ducks in Texas

Wood Ducks are wonderful.  Not only are they beautiful, they tend to inhabit woody areas and creeks where other ducks fear to tread.  Finding a wood duck roost can be a challenge.  You’ll need to find a woody area with a creek or other shallow water nearby.  They can also be tough to find once you’ve found a likely location.  Wood ducks tend to stay on small bodies of water during the day and move to their roosts late in the afternoon as the sun is setting.  I really enjoy hunting wood ducks.

Texas Duck Hunting Dog?

Bird Dog for Duck Hunting
Duck Hunting Bird Dog

I use my trusty bird dog and add a neoprene flotation vest to keep her warm, help her float and camouflage her bright orange and white colors.  She generously tolerates my shenanigans treating her like a duck hunting dog knowing that I’ll owe her an extra bird hunt or two if she does well.

Hunting Location for Wood Ducks
Wood Duck Hunting Location

It doesn’t take many decoys for a wood duck hunt – just a few and a mojo teal can help as well.  Wood ducks typically don’t live in large flocks like coastal marsh ducks.  They also don’t usually migrate, especially in the Central Texas area.

Perfect Timing and Location for Hunting Wood Ducks

Twilight Wood Duck Hunt
Twilight in a Wood Duck Creek

Woodies are going to be most active as the sun sets and they return to their roosts.  They make a very interesting peeping sound and it doesn’t take a lot of skill to get them to decoy to a call.  Again, a little motion from a Mojo Teal and just a few small teal decoys is usually sufficient to have them come take a look.  Don’t expect them to attempt to join the decoys though.  They are going to pass by, take a look and then continue on to their evening roost in some nearby trees.  You need to be ready to shoot quickly because wood ducks can fly right past you in the fading light and they are easy to miss.

Texas Location for Wood Duck Hunting
Hunting Wood Ducks on a Wooded Creek in Texas

I like to find seasonal creeks in woody areas to hunt wood ducks.  I tend to use Google Maps and Google Earth quite a bit to find ideal locations and then ask for land owner permission to scout the area.  There won’t be a bunch of wood ducks in any one place but a little hiking and scouting can help you find a bunch of places within a mile or so radius.

Cinnamon Teal is a Rare Duck to Hunt in Texas

Cinnamon Teal from Central Texas
Central Texas Duck Hunting Rarity - Cinnamon Teal

In Central Texas, it is quite rare to see a Cinnamon Teal.  These ducks typically fly and migrate further West so it was a real treat to see this one near Houston, Texas.

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