Flying High

Flying High

Quail researchers optimistic in early stages of Pineywoods translocation effort.

Story by Matt Williams

It’s always cool to hear about a master plan coming together and working as it should, particularly one that is built around an ambitious wildlife conservation project aimed at restoring something really old to the way it was many moons ago.

Shift to Polk County in southeast Texas. It’s home to Russell Gordy’s Rock Creek Ranch — 9,000 acres of upland pine savannah near Onalaska.

The ranch is ground zero for the Tall Timbers Western Pineywoods Quail Program, a multi-year effort being carried out with no quit commitment aimed at bringing bobwhites back to southeast Texas.

Though still in its infancy stages, the program is showing positive results thus far. In fact, experts are saying it is on track to becoming the most successful of many quail translocation projects that have been attempted over the years in the Lone Star State.

Just so you know, bobwhite quail were once feathered fixtures in rural East Texas. Populations slowly dwindled as land use practices changed from row cropping to maximizing timber, cattle and hay production.

Gordy is a successful Houston businessman with a passion for the past. He grew up hunting quail in Louisiana and developed love for land, the outdoors and conservation along the way — passions he passed on to his two sons, Garrett and Shaun.

Hatched on Friendship

There is great story behind the early success of the northern bobwhite translocation project underway at Rock Creek, one that is sure to grab the attention of quail managers everywhere. The effort is founded on a friendship established several years ago between Brad Kubecka and Garrett Gordy. Moreover, the mutual love the two men share for the dapper little game birds and their signature trills.

Kubecka, 29, is a long-time student of quail and quail management. A graduate with a Master’s degree from Texas A&M-Kingsville and a Ph.D at the University of Georgia, Kubecka is the Western Gamebird Director for Tall Timbers, an internationally recognized wildlife research station based in Florida. The outfit has more than 60 years of experience studying fire-adapted ecosystems and advocating for the use of prescribed fire to benefit quail, wild turkey and other wildlife habitat while reducing wildfire risks.

Tall Timbers also has a rich history of success when it comes to restoring wild quail populations on long-standing project areas throughout the southeastern U.S., using base management methods learned and refined through decades of experience in different ecoregions. To date, the organization has moved about 8,000 wild quail and helped create around 100,000 acres of new quail lands.

To read more, click here to SUBSCRIBE