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The Best States to Go Quail Hunting In

  • October 6, 2016 /

QuailAn estimated one million Americans engage in quail hunting each year. For many this is an autumn tradition, which spans many generations. For others, quail hunting is an occasional event or even a new pastime. No matter the category, all quail hunters are on the lookout for the best spots for the hunt. Quail live in regions all across the United States but are not as numerous as they were in the past. The following is a guide to the best quail hunting states in various regions of the United States.

WEST REGION

Idaho

Idaho is a rugged quail-hunting destination where hunters track their prey in mountainous regions through and canyons with 30 and 40-degree inclines. The weather is variable and quail hunting season temperatures vary from over 100° F to below freezing. Idaho is a good state for quail hunting as they are abundant, especially the California quail species, but a hunter must be willing to follow them through pastures, thorny thickets, and heavy brush. Approximately 70% of the hunting lands are public in Idaho, but the state operates a program called AccessYes, which allows public access to over 370,000 acres of private land.

Oregon

Quail hunting in Oregon often takes place on private land, as the quail prefer residing on an agricultural ground. The state’s wildlife areas have large populations of quail and Oregon accounts for the highest number of harvested mountain quail. Several prime publically accessible wildlife areas for quail hunting include E. E. Wilson, Irrigon, Ladd Marsh, Summer Lake, and Riverside Wildlife Areas. Because over half of Oregon is under the management of the Forrest Service and the Bureau of Land Management hunters enjoy abundant public hunting opportunities. The hunting terrain in Oregon can be hospitable in areas; being a mix of open range, rolling hills, grasslands, planted fields and creek-fed bottomland.

SOUTHWEST REGION

New Mexico

New Mexico quail hunting is strong again, as the state has made strides in recovering from a serious drought. Good quail habitat is plentiful, especially in the southern portion of the state where coveys of over one-hundred birds reside. There is a mixture of public and private land in New Mexico and the state operates the Open Gate program where Landowners allow public access to their land. In some instances, landowners may limit hunters to using their land as a thoroughfare to access hard to reach public lands. Participation in the Open Gate program is free to all properly licensed hunters. The terrain in New Mexico can be challenging, especially in areas that are more mountainous. Hunters can expect large swaths of grassland as well as desert.

Oklahoma

Local biologists advise quail hunters to head to western Oklahoma. Once there, hunters can choose from five Wildlife Management Areas specifically managed for quail. Sandy Sanders WMA, Black Kettle WMA/National Grasslands, Packsaddle WMA, Cooper WMA, and Beaver WMA provide hunters optimal hunting conditions with large numbers of quail. Additionally, hunters will find that most private lands in the area manage habitats with quail in mind. Local property owners use native grasses and shrubs along with strip disking, prescribed burning, and controlled cattle grazing to make ideal quail habitat in a terrain that features rivers, breaks, sandy soils, and rolling hills.

Arizona

The state of Arizona is high on most quail hunter’s list of dream hunting destinations and with good reason. The public lands that make up 60% of the state offer hunters the opportunity to hunt several quail species Scaled Quail, Gambel’s, California quail, and Mearns. The endangered Bobwhite makes Arizona a five species state even though it cannot be part of a hunter’s harvest. Arizona offers a welcoming climate for hunters, especially later in the season when other areas are snowy or frozen. The terrain in the region can be mountainous, grassy and savannah-like, rocky desert, or mesquite-lined washes, sometimes a mixture of all of these depending on the area.

MIDWEST REGION

Missouri

Hunters will find a large number of excellent public quail hunting areas throughout the state of Missouri. Large reserves are designated ‘quail emphasis’ locations and offer multiple points of entry, large parking lots, and easy terrain suitable for hunters of all ages. In Dent County, hunters have access to 2,000 acres of reconditioned forest and countryside that is reserved for walk-in only. Gently rolling hills and open grasslands are cultivated with vegetation to provide a strong habitat for quail and a terrain, which is hospitable to hunters. Because of the variety of wildlife in these areas, quail hunters need to stay alert for deer hunters and to avoid firearm and alternate deer season. The care and expertise given to the management of these hunting grounds ensures abundant populations of quail for years to come.

Kansas

Quail hunters in Kansas can chase large populations of bobwhite quail, especially in the south and east regions of the state where superior nesting conditions helped to produce high concentrations of the bobwhite quail. Scaled quail reside in Kansas but primarily occupy the southwest corner of the state. The vast public regions have dense quail populations dispersed throughout the state of Kansas. The state has a substantial walk-in hunting program, which encompasses more than one million acres of private lands that the state leases for public use. Kansas is famous for its flat terrain and while much of the state is a part of America’s Great Plains, the eastern parts of Kansas are forested hill country, which provides a challenging terrain for hunters.

Iowa

Quail hunting in Iowa is not as prevalent as it is in other nearby areas, and this makes the state a good choice for successful hunts. The quail population in Iowa is currently at a twenty-one year high, so even though Iowa has one of the lowest percentages of public hunting lands combination of fewer hunters and the increased population makes quail hunting in Iowa an attractive idea. It is worth noting that in Iowa not all public lands devote the resources to quail management seen in other states. Many of the conditions of the public lands make them fair at best with challenging terrains. For this reason, advanced scouting of potential hunting grounds is best. Southern Iowa holds the state’s best quail hunting lands, where preferred quail habitat, like woods, shrubs, fields, and pastures with hay are abundant.

SOUTHEAST REGION

Kentucky

Quail hunters have excellent opportunities for successful hunts in Kentucky. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources owns and maintains 46,000 acres of land in west-central Kentucky, the bulk of this land is comprised of salvaged obsolete strip mines. Reclaiming this land provided a vast amount of grassy, open habitat suitable for supporting quail populations. The Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources reserved 23,000 acres of this land for a Quail Focus Area, in 2008. A concentrated habitat organization and investigation project began in this area during 2009 and it has served to enhance and enrich the habitat of the Quail Focus Area for bobwhite quail. The program’s success has served the quail population as well as the quail hunters. There are no restrictions on hunting in this region, except for the proper license and a permit to access the area, which is required for persons 16 years of age and older. Occasionally, an area will adopt a quota hunt system to prevent overcrowding and to maintain the wildlife population. The majority of this region has a gently sloping and grassy terrain, this is in contrast with the eastern region of the state, which is forested and mountainous.

Georgia

Georgia’s quail population is on the rise and this gives way to good hunting opportunities, however, the state of Georgia has various requirements and restrictions for hunters and it is best to be familiar with these before setting out on the hunt. There are approximately 42,000 acres of public land consisting open fields, grassy areas, and open plains dotted with pines. Truly, a paradise for quail and quail hunters, however, the vast majority of these lands operate on a Quota Hunt Program. These exist, of course, to prevent overcrowding of hunting grounds and serves to maintain the quail population and prevent over hunting. The maximum number of hunters allowed to hunt in a specific area varies and the basis for it is that area’s game population, habitat, and size. Advance planning to obtain a place in a particular area’s hunt quota is necessary, especially given the fact that hunters receive their permission to hunt through a random drawing. The quality of the hunting experience typically depends on the weather. In Georgia, hunting is best in the early and the middle portions of quail hunting season. The key is to hunt when there is ground moisture; after rainfall or following a heavy frost are excellent times to hunt. Also, be aware that hunting on private lands in the state of Georgia requires written permission from the landowner.

Enjoying quail hunting may require more planning now than it did in the past, but the goal of the regulations is to maintain quail populations so future generations have the opportunity to enjoy the sport as well.