I happened to run into this old thread and I note that I failed to mention what were the best "pen bird" trials that I ever attended.
Back in the day at Killdeer Plains in North Central Ohio, instead of just dumping out pheasants, the State would build lots of big wire pens with wire covered tops. And they would put 100 or more chicks in each pen. (The chicks were thus protected from all types of predators!) When the chicks grew to the point where they could fly, the top wire was removed so the birds could fly in and out. By then, they were too big for hawks and, of course, had been flying around inside the pen. Of course, the birds were fed there from Day One. Several weeks before trial season started, the pens were taked down and birds roamed freely over the grounds but, of course, often hung around the old pen sites. Handlers familiar with the grounds (Like my old friends the Honeckers, Ken and Tom) knew where these pens had been and handled accordingly. Tommy told me once that he sometimes had pros come ask him about those sites before the International and the Ohio-Penn. (Tom was a good sport, I've seen him handle a pro's dog to a good find when the pro and his scout were both missing from the front.)
These were good flying semi-wild birds, about the best you can get with pen raised birds imho. Of course, the same could be done with quail and I assume with equal success! Just thot I'd add this to the thread if anybody is still reading it.
It was a doggone good idea so naturally the DNR stopped doing it and went back to dumping the birds out along the roads. I haven't been back to Killdeer in some years so I really don't know what the program is these days.