Arizona Quail Hunting Forecast 2017


Good summer monsoons should make for good fall and winter quail hunting

By most indications, quail brood survival throughout Arizona was pretty good this year. That should be welcome news to upland hunters in the Grand Canyon State.
“Winter precipitation patterns have been advantageous for Arizona’s desert quail (Gambel’s and scaled),” says Wade Zarlingo, small game program manager for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Gambel’s quail spring call counts were double what they were last year, meaning breeding activity was very good. We also had normal monsoonal moisture throughout Arizona, and the habitat conditions that are good to support chick development and survival.”
“That summer monsoonal moisture was good statewide, with the majority of the rain falling in July,” Zarlingo says. “Without surveys associated with Montezuma (Mearns’) quail, we are expecting a good year for brood production.”
“Snowfall and winter temperatures within Mearns’ quail habitat should not have had negative impact on adult survival going into the breeding season,” he adds. “Data collected from hunter harvest (wing barrels) and weather station indicate a negative correlation with high September moisture events, and at the time of this report Arizona has not had a precipitation event that could be detrimental to brood survival.”
The state’s desert quail seem to be doing better than last year, and Gambel’s quail are particularly widespread south of the Mogollon Rim, Zarlingo says. At the same time, hunters should “keep in mind that Gambel’s and scaled quail populations have been very depressed for a number of years and it will take consecutive years of advantageous winter precipitation to bring them back to the point they were in the late 1980s.”


Game Management Units 44A, 44B and 20C are promising for Gambel's 
quail. “This area of the state is not traditionally known as a quail hotspot even though there seems to be a significant increase in populations in this area,” Zarlingo says. “Pinal and Pima County north of Tucson is one of the state’s traditional hotspots and again populations should be better than last year.”



When it comes to scaled quail, Cochise and southern Graham counties are the main areas. “Although populations should be better than last year, these populations have been hit hard by drought and habitat degradation from tree and shrub invasion into grasslands areas,” Zarlingo says. “With a slight rebound this year, areas that were good last year should be even better.”



Cochise and southern Pima counties are the traditional strongholds of Mearns’ quail. Hunters who target these birds, according to Zarlingo, should focus on oak-grassland or pine-grassland savannahs.


Hunters without a good pointing dog can have success hunting Gambel’s and scaled quail, but consistently harvesting Montezuma quail requires a good pointer.
No matter what kind of dog you have, equip him or her with booties and any other protection you can from thorns, spines, edgy rocks and all the other jaggedy sharp dangers of the Arizona landscape.


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