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West Texas quail study group to meet in Abilene April 24

The West Texas Quail Study Group, open to anyone with an interest in quail, will hold its inaugural meeting April 24-25.

The first day's meeting will begin with registration at 11 a.m. in the Taylor County Extension Building at 1982 Lytle Way, Abilene. The second day's activities will begin at 7:30 a.m. at the Rob Hailey Ranch just north of Abilene in Shackelford County.

The program is sponsored by Texas Cooperative Extension. A total of four continuing education units (CEUs) — two each day — will be available for those with Private Applicators Licenses.

Dr. Dale Rollins, Extension wildlife specialist at San Angelo and a study group coordinator, said the Quail Study Group is an offshoot of the West Texas Deer Study Group formed in 1998.

“These meetings are built around a formal program, but they also provide an excellent forum for an exchange of ideas among participants,” said Rollins. “These educational programs have proved popular with professionals and landowners alike.

“The popularity of the Rolling Plains as a premier quail hunting area has heightened demand for good hunting leases. Accordingly, it's important for landowners to understand how to best mix quail needs into their other ranch goals to optimize profits.

“The issue of grazing has become a contentious one in quail management circles, especially during dry times like we've experienced over the last five years. One of the panel discussions we've planned will include area ranchers who will share their perspectives on how to best balance quail and cattle needs.”

The first day's sessions, which begin at 1 p.m., will cover such topics as organization of the study group, the Texas quail index, scoring quail habitat and how quail are influenced by weather and cattle in pastures.

Case studies will also be presented on four quail ranches: the Jane Hooker Ranch, Shackelford County; the Snipes Ranch, Stonewall County; and the Melton and Aiken Ranches in Fisher County.

The program will adjourn to the Guitar Ranch for an evening social, dinner, and a point-counterpoint session on the role cactus plays in quail management.

Activities April 25 begin at 8:30 a.m. with a field tour of the Hailey Ranch. Tour stops will include discussions on supplemental feeding, prescribed burning, brush sculpting, and the Texas Quail Index.

After lunch, the program closes with presentations on the Fisher County Quail Project and the Texas Quail Plan.

Registration is $35 per person until April 21 and $50 per person thereafter.

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