Are you seeing just a very few quail flush? That may not be an accurate indication of the covey size. Here’s what I mean:
There was a covey of about 40 birds I had been keeping an eye on. I had not hunted them, but most every time I was in that area, would see the covey, and at times, even have the opportunity to count them as they were feeding. Later in the season, I decided to hunt them along with a couple of friends. We made a large circle of about ¾ mile about 60 yards apart from each other. This particular habitat was not rough, but did contain many small draws. Just as we completed our circle, and were within 200 yards of the truck, about ½ dozen birds flushed wild from a small draw to our right and lit further up the draw. We moved on up to hunt them, picked up one or two singles, and thought the rest of the covey would be further up the draw. Continuing up the draw, we hunted for another 20 – 30 minutes but didn’t find any more birds. That’s where I said, “I know it’s a much larger covey than what we’ve seen. We better circle back to the original area where the 6 birds flushed and hunt there again.” As we moved back into that area, the dogs got birdy and began to ground trail the rest of the covey further north. Eventually we put the rest of the birds up in the complete opposite direction of the original flush and had a pretty good shoot. Why? Because when that covey split, 6 of them flushed to pull us away from the rest of the covey. If I had not known that that covey was bigger, we would have assumed that it was just a small covey and would probably have continued to move in the direction away from the bulk of the birds. This happened with Gambel’s quail, but I’ve seen Mearns’ and Scaled quail do the same thing. So keep this in mind – it may be a good idea at times to go back through in the opposite direction of the original flush, especially if the original flush seemed to be a small quantity.