Texas Tech University

Quail-Tech Receives Major Gift to Advance Bobwhite Research on Texas' Rolling Plains

Allen Ramsey

April 14, 2022

Texas Tech’s Quail-Tech has received a donation from Chuck Ribelin to advance its work in quail research.

Chuck Ribelin wants birds on the ground. 

A Dallas native, Ribelin has always enjoyed quail hunting, but the declining population of bobwhite quail in Texas prompted him to look for solutions - a way to keep a huntable population of bobwhite on the ground, where they nest, for the foreseeable future.  

One of the solutions he found is Texas Tech University's Quail-TechTM, a research program run by Brad Dabbert, the Burnett Foundation Endowed Professor of Quail Ecology in the Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources.

Bobwhite Quail
Bobwhite Quail

Ribelin has presented a major gift to Davis College to ensure that Quail-TechTM has the resources it needs to continue finding solutions for sustaining the bobwhite population. 

“We want to put birds on the ground, and we know Dr. Dabbert can do that,” Ribelin said. “Now we need a team around him to help.” 

Ribelin's gift will help fund five-year projects across three departments in Davis College, with the primary funding going toward a project in Natural Resources Management to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Tall Timbers model to sustain huntable bobwhite populations in the Rolling Plains of Texas. 

The Tall Timbers Research Station, located in Florida, developed a set of management tools to sustain bobwhite populations at relatively high densities. Similar techniques - broadcasting supplemental feed and predator reduction – will be used by Dabbert on the north and south shinnery pastures of the Pitchfork Ranch in Dickens County, Texas, to determine which measures are most effective to sustain bobwhite populations in the drier climate of Texas. 

The project at the Pitchfork Ranch also will focus on bobwhite chick survival, an area of research crucial to sustaining a huntable population. 

“We're really going to focus on chick survival because that area is kind of a black box for us right now,” Dabbert said. “What are the weather effects? What predators are eating them? What habitats do they survive in better than others?” 

To help build on that research, Ribelin's gift also creates two funds for related research projects. 

The Chuck Ribelin Quail Ecology Public Awareness Support Fund will provide support for a student in the Picador Creative internship program in the Department of Agricultural Education & Communications to focus specifically on promoting awareness of quail ecology.

“This fund allows one of our agricultural communications students the opportunity to expand the skills they learned in the classroom and apply those lessons to a real situation,” said Erica Irlbeck, professor of agricultural communications and director of Picador Creative. “The students learn more about academic research, natural resources and quail specific to Texas, all while growing their communications portfolio.”

The Chuck Ribelin Economic Impact and Policy Advocacy of Quail Ecology Fund will provide support for a graduate student in agricultural and applied economics to study economic impact and policy advocacy for quail ecology. 

“Quail hunting has traditionally been an important activity for the region and a good portion of the money comes from outside the region,” said Darren Hudson, professor and the Larry Combest Endowed Chair in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. “Our research will seek to quantify the regional economic impact of quail hunting and examine the impacts that increasing quail populations would have on regional economic activity. Combined with the effort in agricultural communications, our research will help inform regional businesses, researchers, and policy-makers about the value of investing in quail population improvement.”