Meeting set for Dec. 13 in Smith Center
SMITH CENTER -- Following on the heels of the state's first Quail Forever (QF) chapter opening in Lyons on Nov. 2, quail hunters from Smith and Phillips counties have formed the second Quail Forever chapter in Kansas. The new chapter, to be called the Route 36 Chapter of QF, will focus on northcentral Kansas quail habitat. The chapter’s leaders will be holding a meeting Dec. 13 at Horseshoe Sports Bar & Grill in Phillipsburg at 7 p.m. The public and media are invited to attend.

“I’ve been a life-long quail hunter and have seen the quail numbers consistently fall from the 1970s,” said Max Dibble, the chapter’s newly-elected president. "That's why I got involved with QF. I want to ensure that my grandkids have the opportunity to experience the camaraderie and excitement of a quail hunt with family and friends.”

According to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, hunters harvested 674,000 quail in 2004, up from 647,000 in 2003. That total may climb again this hunting season because Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres in central and western Kansas have helped to stem the spiraling decline of populations in a state where hunters once consistently harvested more than 1 million bobwhites each season. Intensified agricultural practices, including conversion of native pasture to fescue, and the succession of prairie grasslands to woodlands have been the major culprits of the quail decline in Kansas.

Local QF chapters determine how all locally-raised funds will be spent. Since QF’s inception on Aug. 10 of this year, 22 chapters have formed across the country. There are currently seven chapters in Illinois; three in Missouri; two each in Kansas, Tennessee, and Texas; and one each in Alabama, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Oklahoma.

“I’ve seen tremendous habitat work of Pheasants Forever chapters in northcentral Kansas, and I wanted to be a part of similar efforts for quail,” added Cary Tucker, the chapter’s treasurer and Smith County executive director for the Farm Service Agency. “We have conservation-minded farmers and landowners across northcentral Kansas, and I’m confident they’ll embrace our efforts.”

The public and media are invited to attend meetings and learn more about the new chapter and organization. The chapter’s fund-raising banquet has been scheduled for Jan. 28.

For more information, contact Max Dibble at 785-543-2742 or email tcsimax@aol.com , or contact Mike Ryan at 785-282-0720 or email ryanm@brookecorp.com . To learn more about starting a QF chapter in Kansas, contact Barth Crouch at 785-823-0240 or email bcrouch@quailforever.org . The national organization may be contacted toll free at 866-457-8245 or by emailing contact@quailforever.org .