What’s Happening Now-Season Opener Oct 19 2018
The best way to describe the weather this year in Arizona would be: record breaking. The past few weeks have brought storms, rain and even snow at higher elevations. Within the first weeks of October, it has become the third wettest ever recorded. Most of the state received about average rainfall during the Monsoon with a few notable events in different regions. Phoenix landed a bit below normal. Of most concern, though, is that the past winter showed some of the lowest levels of precipitation to date. Most of the state encountered extreme fire restrictions this summer, indicating poor rain fall during the winter.
How does this affect the quail hunter? Well Gambel’s and scaled quail rely heavily on those winter desert rains. AZGFD states, “Gambel’s quail breed in spring and early summer, and breeding intensity and success are directly related to the amount of rainfall received during the previous October through March”. Interestingly, many residents have noted sporadic hatches with chicks observed well into September. This could indicate a poor early hatch and low survival rate. Mearns’ quail, though, may see more opportunity as they don’t nest until later in the year. September didn’t see massive rains, which can affect Mearns’ chick’s survival rates. Hopefully these October rains provide much needed cover and food sources instead affecting survival rates.
Most hunters feel lucky this year with the delay in opening day. October 19th, which is opening day, lies two weeks later than “normal”. Hopefully the weather holds with cooler temperatures and the snakes retreat for an ideal opening day.
Quail hunting in Arizona doesn’t always mean finding. Often, the thrill of the chase can be just as rewarding. A prepared hunter may research rainfall, call counts, etc. and still come up short. In a tough year, keep in mind those ethics of hunting. Should you have a lucky day, consider dropping your limit by one or two or only taking one bird during a flush.
Here’s to a great hunting season with great friendships, good dogs and wonderful memories.