Bishop-Watkins Farm

“Bob-white…bob-whiiite…bob-whiiitee!” Once a commonly encountered sound in North Carolina, the call of the bobwhite quail is so close to its namesake it’s not easily mistaken. These once plentiful birds have been in serious decline and have largely disappeared from most areas. Spooking up a covey of quail will challenge the austerity of any man. Flushing all at once, these birds take off en masse with loud flapping and flailing – an experience in the field that you won’t soon forget – and one that staff member Crystal Cockman had just minutes after setting foot on John Bishop’s farm.

John has already protected nearly 800 acres with The LandTrust, and this year added another 159 acres that adjoins the rest of the property to the north. This gorgeous rolling Anson County farmland is located at the confluence of the Rocky and the Pee Dee Rivers. This project was made possible by conservation funding from the Federal Farm and Ranchland Protection Program and the North Carolina Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund. Additionally, transactional costs were provided by The Conservation Trust for North Carolina from their Farmland Forever Fund grant program.

John’s farm is not only beautiful and expansive; he also manages it impeccably for wildlife. Frequent prescribed burns and large thinnings of pine plantation provide open sunlight and provide the conditions necessary to create a diverse understory for species like quail, rabbit, turkey, and deer. His excellent management was recognized when he was awarded the 2009 Lawrence G. Diedrick Small Game Award from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. If more landowners manage their own farms in a manner similar to John, bobwhite quail may one day be common again along the Rocky River.

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