Wild Quail Parts & Pieces #3

Each surrogator has a water supply and waterer.

Water is contained in a 15 gallon barrel on top of the surrogator.


The twist tie in this picture marks the water level in the water level indicator. During the trial run in the barnyard, I noticed a slight lead and wanted to measure the potential water loss during a week. It was negligible.


The water barrel feeds the white nipple waterer shown in this picture. Wild quail don’t necessarily need water but since these baby chicks are being raised on high protein food instead of insects, they do need additional water that wild quail don’t.


During the trial run in the barnyard, we had a late night visitor come take a closer look.


The two halves of the Surrogator XL are held together with clamps. I discovered that a zip tie to hold the clamps in the clamped position provided a measure of security. Older Surrogator models don’t have this feature and are more difficult to transport. The Surrogator XL is very easy to tear down and transport.


Want more information about what we’ve done to put together our surrogator?  Read about building our quail surrogator part 1 or read about building our quail surrogator part 2.  You can also check out our updated and more experienced surrogator design and maintenance and how it all relates to our most recent season of chicks.


The test run for raising wild quail in a Quail Surrogator

Before I actually put wild quail chicks into the quail surrogator, it was recommended that I set it up and make sure that the heater and gas worked and that the watering system worked.

Quail Surrogator Test Setup

Quail Surrogator under Test in the Barnyard

I set the quail surrogator up in the barnyard.  This provided me with a protected environment where I could get a read on how well the surrogator will perform without human intervention over a week long period.  I fully loaded and configured the quail surrogator with a full water barrel, a full load of bobwhite quail chick feed and a full tank of gas running the heating unit.  This setup exposed the quail surrogator to the typical elements of wind and weather and helped give me confidence that it will perform as advertised when relocated into the pasture.




Monitoring Your Quail Surrogator


I also purchased a small game camera to monitor it so that I could test that as well.




Hunting pen raised quail

Wild Quail vs. Pen Raised Quail

Sometimes you may find that pen raised quail is your only option.  There aren’t very many wild quail in Central Texas. Modern farming methods of fence to fence cultivation have all but eliminated the brushy, weedy fence rows that wild quail need. Additionally, most pastures have been planted with grass and the native grasses and forbs that wild quail depend on for seeds have also disappeared.

The only real option appeared to be pen raised quail.

Quality of wild vs. pen raised quail

The quality of pen raised quail varies greatly depending on how they are raised and how they are offered for hunting.

Hunting preserves typically have larger birds that are slow to fly. Some smaller operators either incubate their own or raise them in flight pens so that they fly well.

At any rate, you can almost always have a good time and, if you’re diligent, get almost all of the birds you pay for.


It’s a very satisfying experience to train your dog on some pen raised quail; often, just as satisfying as training them using wild quail. Especially when it’s a job well done.


Even the anticipation of hunting quail can be exciting. Especially when you get a good long look at the quarry!



Limits of Hunting Pen Raised Quail

But, a problem can occur when pen raised quail are all you have available to hunt. Your dog can start to develop bad habits.

The bad habits don’t usually show up until you do hunt wild quail and your dog only has experience on pen raised quail.

So, what are you going to do?