Fall Field Day at Dixie Plantation — October 24, 2014

By Theron Terhune, Game Bird Program Director

The infamous boll weevil brought hardship to many in the 1920s but this misfortune paved the way for the Livingston family to purchase and establish what is today known as Dixie Plantation.  Dixie is an diverse 9,100-acre property located in Jefferson County, Florida and situated on the outer banks of the Aucilla River. The gift of Dixie to Tall Timbers, by the Geraldine C. M. Livingston Foundation in December 2013, provides a unique opportunity for understanding bobwhite ecology on a working hunting plantation. The “Livingston way” is rooted in traditional quail hunting, whereby high regard is given to wild bobwhites and bird dogs.

Dixie has been historically managed for bobwhites through conversion of agricultural land to forest lands with an emphasis on regeneration of longleaf pine. However, small scale farming still exists and is an important, economic staple for its everyday operation. In the 1930s, Dixie became home for the Continental Championship Field Trials and is recognized by the field trial community as one of the premiere field trial sites in the country, acclaimed for its preponderance of wild birds. The stalwart conservation ethic and precedent set by the Livingston family provide the underpinnings of how Tall Timbers will use the property in the future. As such, our objectives at Dixie include: quail management and hunting; abiding by an existing conservation easement; historical preservation; education and training; hosting bird dog field trials; and research that contributes to the mission of Tall Timbers.

In March, we radio-tagged 50 bobwhites on Dixie to begin collecting baseline demographic data in the core bobwhite research area. We will continue year-round monitoring of radio-tagged birds to evaluate aspects related to the use of cotton fields by quail, the efficiency of all age field trial dogs in locating wild quail coveys, along with the effects of field trials on subsequent hunting quality, and a study to determine the driving forces behind the “new ground effect” of an intensive upland hardwood removal. This hardwood removal has already begun on Dixie and we will measure quail demographics before, during, and after this work is done on the core study area. We are excited about the work at Dixie and look forward to sharing the beautiful landscape and rich history with you during our Fall Field Day on Friday, Oct. 24.

Dixie Mansion portico   Dixie longleaf pine forest

At left, the main house at Dixie Plantation; at right Dixie longleaf pine forest. Photos by Rose Rodriguez

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