Scaled Quail: There has been a very poor hatch in the southeast corner of Arizona, the primary area for scaled quail.
Gambel’s Quail: This is probably the brightest outlook for Arizona regarding winter rainfall, and though the season has only been open since mid-October, it looks like the country around Safford could afford some ok hunting. I wouldn’t call it good by any stretch of the imagination, but there will be some Gambel’s quail in that country. However, the best hatches may have taken place (though the “best” hatches are in reality poor hatches compared to wetter years) from Globe over through Payson and then into the foothills of the Matazals and the Camp Verde area. There will be some small pockets around, and I would say the better small pockets would be in that country.
Mearns’ Quail: This year is going to be what I would consider a very poor Mearns’ season. The summer rains that would be conducive to a good hatch just did not happen, and although there were some spots through the southeast corner of the state where summer rains did occur, none of them were to the point to bring off a good Mearns’ quail hatch. There will be some very small pockets there where rainfall did occur due to the spottiness of the summer thunderstorms – there can be a ten mile square area that picks up a lot of rain while other nearby areas go dry – but I’m going to call the Mearns’ season this year poor because of that. A person is either going to just really have to study some maps and look at where those rains took place, or if a person has a lot of time they can just get into that area of the state and find some of the mountain ranges or foothills with the better grass and the better cover – that’s where you can tell the better rainfall took place at this point in time.
Overall, I’m going to call the entire season poor, and by poor, I’d be talking about hunting Gambel’s quail hard and shooting good to bag about 8 or 10 birds a day. If a person can do it, steer clear of Mearns’ and Scaled quail this year. As Mearns’ season progresses along I will have more opportunity to get into Mearns’ country and I will be able to give a little more information as to what is taking place. I will also be able to get reports from some different people in different areas.
This is my assessment at this point of what we can look forward to in the upcoming 2009/2010 season. As you know, it’s not about numbers of quail or how many quail are in the bag or anything like that, it’s just the opportunity to be out and see some birds and enjoy being in the outdoors.