Alabama Quail Hunting Forecast 2018

  • 10/2/2018 10:35:04 AM

Weather and Conditions

"Spring and summer weather conditions were good overall for nesting and brood rearing," reports Steven Mitchell, wildlife biologist with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. "Some areas had a couple of heavy rains during the early part of nesting season, but I don’t think those conditions persisted long enough to be detrimental."

Hatch and Broods

Alabama does not do any summer surveys, but we conduct spring bobwhite male calling surveys in late May and early June on many of our Wildlife Management Areas across the state, and also conduct fall covey calling surveys in late October and early November," says Mitchell. "Compared to spring 2017 male calling surveys, whistling count numbers  were up this spring on some WMA’s, and the same or slightly decreased on others.  We use the surveys as an index or trend monitoring to see if quail populations are responding to our management efforts. I have heard from several landowners and managers that say they have heard and seen more quail over the summer than they’ve seen in several years. Many folks have reported seeing quail broods frequently, all summer, from early hatches in May to probably second hatchings in late August and early September."

Habitat and Programs

"In general, the growing season in Alabama has been favorable and produced good habitat," reports Mitchell. "On our Wildlife Management Areas across the state, and most private properties that conduct any management for quail, fall hunting cover should be good to excellent. A new program, Working Lands for Wildlife, is available for landowners wanting to improve quail habitat on their lands in certain counties in Alabama.  NRCS has partnered with the Alabama Department of Conservation, Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division in an effort to reverse the quail population decline. Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program’s Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW), funding is available in the following Alabama counties: Escambia, Covington, Geneva, Dallas, Lowndes, Montgomery, Bullock, Macon, Russell, Autauga, Elmore, Chilton, Coosa, Tallapoosa, Chambers, Clay and Talladega to improve quail habitat on private lands. Wildlife biologists with the Alabama Department of Conservation work closely with NRCS personnel in these counties to provide technical assistance to landowners on habitat improvement. Through technical and financial assistance, practices planned such as heavy pine timber thinning and prescribed burning have the potential to drastically improve quail habitat quality.
"Also still relatively new, is the Boggy Hollow Wildlife Management Area on the Conecuh National Forest in south AL. In 2017, the AL DCNR, U.S. Forest Service, Quail Forever, and NWTF partnered to establish this 7,000 acre area to focus on quail and small game hunting. The WMA is an NBCI (National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative) CIP (Coordinated Implementation Program) focal area. Quail population and habitat monitoring following NBCI CIP guidelines has been implemented, and will be ongoing to monitor population response to habitat management activities. Management efforts will primarily include timber thinning, prescribed fire, management of existing wildlife openings, and creation of more openings."

Top Spots

"Macon, Bullock, and Barbour Counties will be prime destinations for quail hunting in Alabama this fall," says Mitchell. "Quail surveys on our WMA’s indicate the best populations of quail are on Barbour WMA in the southeast portion of the state and Freedom Hills WMA in the northwest portion. In the southern part of the state, Geneva State Forest WMA, Blue Spring WMA, and Boggy Hollow WMA are areas to check out."

Insider Tips

Alabama’s quail season is November 3 – February 28. The best quail hunting is found on private properties that are intensively managed for quail. Good covey numbers still exist there, but if you don’t have access to those types of properties, quail can still be found on most WMA’s, just don’t expect easy hunting or large numbers of birds and points.  To find birds on private and public lands, look for open thinned pine stands containing early successional plants with scattered thickets, field edges, and young clearcuts and pine plantings in early succession stages. Identify and hunt around quail foods in those areas which may include beggarweed, partridge pea, ragweed, lespedezas, pine seeds, and even acorns.