Green…that’s the word for Arizona quail country this month. As of right now, the entire state is set up for a good Gambel’s quail hatch. More good news regarding Arizona quail, the Southern Arizona Quail Forever Chapter and the Valley of the Sun Quail Forever Chapter both held their fundraising dinners in February and each was a great success. A huge thanks to all who participated.
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Below is a section included in each What’s Happening Now post. We value your input and interaction with what we post here so we’ve provided a form to submit your comments. We’ll summarize the comments we receive into a condensed, overall response to include in future What’s Happening Now posts.
What do you think?
Update: Previous Question: Many upland bird hunters are wasting a lot of good meat by discarding the legs. Quail legs are absolutely delicious and can be cooked in a variety of ways. It does take a little more work and time to save the legs, although worth it. What are your thoughts on saving the legs and a good way to prepare them for the table?
Response: Overwhelming response regarding the waste of quail legs. Several different recipes were sent that sounded delicious. 100% agreed, don’t throw quail legs away. Even though it takes a little longer to clean them it’s well worth the effort. Click here for the Buffalo Quail Legs recipe
This month: There was a lot of response regarding Upland bird pants, therefore we’ll run it again. Do you wear upland bird pants? If so, why? What brand do you prefer? Still trying to locate the Columbia Upland bird pant, the lightweight bird pant. Anyone have any ideas on where to find them?
Let us know your thoughts using the form below! We’ll summarize the comments we receive into a condensed, overall response to include in a future What’s Happening Now post.
Small Game Hunting Tips: Quail
By Randy Babb, AZ Game & Fish Information & Education Program Manager
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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