What’s Happening Now – Spring Quail Report
The word for the month of March is…drought. I wish I had better news. This is one of those Springs where March saw little to no green up. January was extremely dry with much of the state seeing zero rainfall. February and March both saw some rain but it seemed to just dry up and not sprout any seeds. It’s no mystery that in the deserts of Arizona, we need rain. February, March and April are the most important time of the year to receive rain for green up. Green up provides newly hatched chicks with nutrients essential for survival until adulthood.
With that being said, quail have been here for thousands of years. They were created to withstand a drought. If we do receive some rain in April there might be hope things will turn around. Where we stand now, we will likely see a limited hatch for Gambels quail.
Something interesting to check out is the Southern Arizona Chapter of Quail Forever. They recently held their annual youth hunt. Check their website to get involved in future events. We always advocate for hunters to get involved in their local community especially when it comes to our youth.
If anybody has any pictures or comments of quail breeding or signs of green up, please feel free to share. We are keeping high hopes that April showers bring us some May flowers.
Remember When you purchase Q5 and Quilomene upland hunting vests, you are helping a Child experience camping and the great outdoors. A percentage of the proceeds go to Arizona Outdoor Adventures, a non-profit501(c)(3 organization dedicated to providing healthy outdoor activities for underprivileged children. Wont You Help Out A Kid Today Go to www.azoutdooradventures.org for further information.
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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