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Discussion Starter #1
My club recently purchased this unit to raise quail and pheasant chicks in. We are going to try a batch of quail next week, and do pheasant next season as it it to late in the season. Are any of you familiar with this unit, if so I could use some tips. Thanks



 

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I've seen the one in the lower pic a lot on the gamelands in shippenville. Game commision was raising quail and releasing them there. First time I seen it I didn't have a clue what it was, until I saw the chicks running all over the place.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I've heard they work quite well. We have alot of bird hunters at our club and they pitched in an bought the thing. I've been busting there chops calling it a Coyote feeder.
 

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These units <span style="color: #FF0000">do not </span>work and are a poor return on your investment. A number of states have done studies of these units and they are not cost effective. You will get more return on your money releasing full grown birds a few days before you hunt them. You will end up with some wilder birds but there will be less of them and they will not reproduce like the wild counterpart.

"Nebraska Releases Preliminary Results from Surrogator Study

In 2008, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission purchased 4 surrogator units and placed them on 4 wildlife management areas across Nebraska. Surrogators were placed in areas with quality pheasant habitat, and chicks were purchased and released according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. In order to track survival rate, the Commission placed radio transmitters on 79 chicks. Approximately 50 days after releasing the birds, only 9 were still alive (89% mortality). The Game and Parks Commission also marked 122 other chicks with deuterium water and will look at hunter harvest success on the four areas. Results of hunter success is not yet available. It is important to note that this is an ongoing study, but preliminary results indicate poor survival of released birds. While many people may dismiss the results of this study, it supports data from another study done in Georgia using the Surrogator release system. Habitat is still the most effective method to increase pheasant and quail numbers!"

Final results showed 14 out 100 chicks survived until October 25th. Only 3 of 100 birds was put in the bag on average. You may be able to increase these numbers with good habitat and predator control but the numbers are not good.
"Abstract
During May 2005 – January 2006, a study was conducted on an approximate 1,000-acre portion of a private shooting preserve in Monroe County Georgia, Piedmont Physiographic Province, to assess the return to hunter bag and flight behavior of pen-reared bobwhites that were liberated prior to the hunting season using two release techniques. A total of 1,641 five-week-old wing-tagged pen-reared bobwhites were released using the Surrogate Propagation™ system during June, August and September; and 1,000 12-16 week old leg-banded bobwhites were “dump released” during November. Birds were liberated into intensively managed pine savanna habitat that included supplemental feeding and predator control. Fifteen horseback or wagon quail hunts totaling 70 hours were conducted during November – January with 21 different coveys located and 99 covey flushes. A total of 93 birds were harvested of which 81% were leg banded, 14% wing banded, 5% unmarked and presumed to be wild reared. Relative to the total number of birds released, hunter bag returns were 0.80% for the wing-tagged chicks and 7.5% for the leg-banded adults. Based on subjective ratings, the summer released wing-tagged chicks exhibited flight behavior exceeding that of fall released leg-banded adults and similar to that of wild reared birds. Hunter bag return rates were low for both systems. The cost per released bird returned to hunter bag was <span style="color: #FF0000">$74.53 </span>and $42.00 for the <span style="color: #FF0000">Surrogate Propagation™ system </span>and dump-release, respectively."
 

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I guess we'll find out, the unit is bought and paid for. We are going to start the first batch of 125 quail chicks this weekend. I'll keep you informed on the results. I don't even bird hunt but I'm hoping the guys get some good results out of this thing.
 

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The other issue that will arise is the weather. The birds should have been raised and release in early to mid summer when it is hot and closer to traditional nesting season. There is a reason that hatching and growing takes place when it does. Feed, cover, and weather all play an important part in a young birds life. They would also end up with birds that would be close to mature birds for hunting season. Releasing 4 or 5 week old birds in late October or early November is a recipe for disaster. Wet and cold birds at 4 or 5 weeks means a dead bird. At this point, they will need to be raised until a significant amount of age to survive the weather conditions.
 

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No. We have used the theory of releasing young birds but have simply raised the birds in seclusion and released at the 4 to 5 weeks of age. Didn't see the benefit of buying the equipment to raise them in a surrogator over a building limiting human contact. We spend the bulk of our money in habitat to allow them to survive after release.

Regardless, if you release young birds into ordinary cover and particularly after the summer months when the weather is hot and humid, you can expect nothing more than wasting your time and money.
 
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