Virginia Quail Hunting Forecast 2017

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Virginia bobwhites are stable thanks to habitat efforts in the state

In some parts of Virginia, quail populations should be as good as last year, or slightly better. When the long-term trend is one of decline, ‘”as good” and “slightly better” are good things. 

Good weather for brood survival and chick development has helped the cause in Virginia.

“I feel like we have had very good summer weather, for the most part,” says Marc Puckett, state quail coordinator for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. “We did not have prolonged extreme heat or drought, although it did get dry in a few places. Overall, hatching and brood-rearing weather was good to excellent.”

While the state hasn’t yet analyzed its summer survey data, there’s little doubt that overall the quail population trend is down. However, and as one would expect, in areas where increased habitat work has been undertaken, there are signs of modest improvements, Puckett says. Last fall, in fact, one hunter reported finding 86 different coveys of quail, while another found 56 and another 36. 

Hunters shouldn’t expect that sort of action to be the norm. But it is a good indication of what simple habitat work will do.

“Most of the better quail hunting in Virginia is on private lands, though some of our military bases do offer some fair to good quail hunting – bases such as Fort Pickett and Fort A.P. Hill,” Puckett says. “In terms of private lands, areas east of Interstate 95 generally have more quail than those areas west.”

“Many of our Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries wildlife management areas in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain have some quail, but not a lot,” he adds. “On the other hand, they also do not experience too much quail-hunting pressure.”

Puckett stresses that quail hunters in Virginia should be prepared in terms of their expectations. Folks who want to put up multiple coveys and kill birds all day long may want to head for another state. But hunters who just want to get out for an enjoyable hunt and move a few coveys can do so.
 

VIRGINIA HUNTING NOTES

* "Virginia’s bird hunters need to branch out and become all gamebird hunters,” Puckett says. “By combining woodcock, grouse, quail, doves and, in some cases, snipe and rails, a bird hunter in Virginia can keep his dogs in the game.”

* ”I still bird hunt and still have dogs, but have adjusted my expectations. Getting up eight to 10 woodcock a day on average – maybe killing one or two – and then flushing a covey of quail or grouse can make for a great day.”
 

LINKS

Virginia Quail Page: Virginia Quail Recovery Initiative

Virginia Quail Hunting Page