What’s Happening Now – August 2017
Within the world of Upland bird Hunters there is a portion of hunters that don’t care for carrying a lot of gear. All they want is a good quality and durable American-made strap vest. A vest to carry shells and birds and that’s basically it. The Q5 primer fills that niche. Also, the Q5 primer is a great vest to wear while in the vehicle.
2018 Season Outlook By -Wade Zarlingo- Arizona Game And Fish Department
“We had a pretty good, above-average hunting season for Mearns or Montezuma quail in 2016-17,” reports Wade Zarlingo, Small Game Program Manager with the Arizona Department of Game and Fish. “It looks like there was good recruitment in 2016. Juvenile: adult ratios in the harvest were about normal. The Gambel’s quail harvest was below our long-term average.”
“We didn’t have any events last winter that would produce mortality,” says Zarlingo. “Mearns are especially susceptible to harsh weather, but they did okay. There were some wildfires in our Mearns range. Short-term that could be a localized problem. But long-term it will be a positive for habitat.”
“Mearns quail thus far have been receiving summer moisture,” he says, “which they need. That’s good. But I won’t have a full prediction until summer is over.”
“For Gambel’s quail, this year’s call counts were 25% above the long-term average, and double last year’s count. That’s good news too … if we can convert those numbers into a good hatch. I am optimistic on Gambel’s, as we’ve taken a good step in the right direction. Winter moisture – December, January, February – is important to them. And we got that moisture. “
“Weather has been very conducive to good nesting thus far,” adds Zarlingo. “We have had lots of reports of large broods in urban areas, specifically the Phoenix area and around Tucson as well.”
As for best areas to hunt, “I like to suggest areas where hunters can pursue all three species,” says Zarlingo. “The Tucson area is excellent for having three species – Gambel’s, Mearns and scaled – right there or within a couple hours’ drive.”
Arizona has good habitat prospects. “We just picked up another Quail Forever biologist to work with landowners,” says Zarlingo. “Now we have one in each Phoenix and Pine Top.”
“We are working with the NRCS on landowner relations in southern Arizona, with a focus on scaled quail and restoring the grasslands they need, by removing brush – chiefly mesquite,” says Zarlingo. “Mearns like brush, but scalies need grass. This is the scaled quail country, and we’re trying to help them.”
“There is work to incorporate fuel reduction breaks – 4,000 acres of landscape scale treatment,” adds Zarlingo.” Quail Forever is a part of this. The U.S. Forest Service was going to remove 90% of our oak trees, but 25 to 30% canopy is the right prescription for Mearns.”
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SMALL GAME HUNTING TIPS: QUAIL
Try starting your quail hunt early in the morning when it’s cooler and birds are more vocal and moving about. Also consider using a quail call and listen for coveys to answer; this will save walking and time. Quail calls may be purchased at most sporting goods stores. While walking in the field, stop frequently to listen for birds. Gambel’s and scaled quail make a variety of sounds; learn to recognize these calls. Once birds are found, attempt to split the covey up and work cover for single birds, this is where you’re likely to get most of your birds. Estimate the number of birds on a covey rise and keep count of the number of single birds that are flushed while working for singles. This way you can make sure you’ve worked the covey thoroughly. If you have hunted through the area where the scattered birds settled and have only gotten up half the number of the birds that were counted on the covey rise, you know that there are still more birds in the area and can work the surrounding cover appropriately.
Gambel’s quail like to run and if the cover is not heavy enough will literally out run hunters and dogs alike. Minimize your frustration while hunting these birds by choosing areas that have good ground cover in the way of grasses and shrubs. This vegetation provides hiding places for scattered birds. On birds that want to run ahead of you, put pressure on them by unloading your firearm and trotting after the birds until you have flushed the covey enough times for the birds to be sufficiently scattered to hold. Then work the area for singles. Avoid hunting areas with little ground cover. For quail to hold (not flush at a distance too far for the hunter to shoot at them) there must be adequate ground cover for the birds to hide in (e.g. grass, shrubs, etc.). In sparsely vegetated areas quail tend to run and flush at excessive distances. This can be a problem in years of poor production as the hunter is faced with pursuing older “educated” birds. There should be plenty of young birds this season so running birds will likely not be a problem this season. Young birds hold better so it is worth the effort to find those areas that experienced better hatches.
Once the birds are scattered and holding a hunter will flush more birds if they walk in a zigzag fashion through the cover, occasionally pausing for a few seconds. Waiting can be as important as walking in areas where there is good cover and where you know there are birds. It is not uncommon to walk into an area, stop for a few seconds, and have a bird flush right behind you after you resume walking. Be ready for this. Attempt to read the cover and terrain to predict where birds may be hiding. Groups of closely growing shrubs, shallow draws lined with dense vegetation, or low thickets, should be investigated. If a hunter has a partner, develop a game plan and move through an area about 20 to 30 yards apart covering the area thoroughly. If birds are holding tightly it is not unusual to cover the same ground many times and still flush birds. Quail will often hold closely in inclement weather. Once a bird is knocked down, stay at the ready for a second or two to make sure the quail is not crippled and runs off. Also mark downed birds carefully and walk directly to the spot and retrieve the bird. If the downed bird is not found immediately take the time to carefully search the surrounding area within about a 15 yard, or more, radius. Gambel’s quail are remarkably tough and can take a lot of punishment. Crippled birds will run down mammal burrows, into packrat nests, or hide in most any suitable cover. Resist the temptation to shoot at additional birds once a bird has been downed. This will translate to fewer lost birds and more game in the bag.
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