Iowa Quail Hunting Forecast 2018

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Weather and Conditions

"We had a very mild winter across the southern third of Iowa, which is our best quail range," says Todd Bogenschutz, upland game biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. "Winter snowfall was 14 inches below normal, and mean snowfall for entire winter was only 7-9 inches of snow. So we had great overwinter survival coming into the spring."


Hatch and Broods


"We survey quail on our August roadside counts right along with pheasants," says Bogenschutz. "This year the statewide index showed a significant 25 percent increase compared to 2017. Iowa has had outstanding quail numbers the last four years running. Counts the last four years are the highest we've seen since 1996. Anecdotally we are hearing that landowners are reporting quail everywhere and in places they've not been seen in years."


Habitat and Conditions


"In general both our habitat and the condition of that habitat remain unchanged from last year," Bogenschutz reports. "Most quail habitat in Iowa is found on private lands. Our recent increase in quail is tied to the last four winters being relatively mild thus leading to good overwinter survival.  Overwinter survival is critical on the northern fringe of the quail range.  The Iowa DNR also has an aggressive quail management program on many of our WMA's in southern Iowa that produce excellent habitat and quail. Our private lands staff in conjunction with PF & QF Farm Bill biologists also work with landowners on private land, particularly with CRP and many of these farms are enrolled in our walk-in program, the Iowa Habitat and Access Program. Iowa last year was awarded a new CRP SAFE practice targeted to bobwhite and all 40,000 acres were enrolled in about a month.  We expect these to begin providing excellent quail habitat this fall. Iowa is also a participant in the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative and working to demonstrate the value of habitat management for bobwhite populations."


Top Spots


"Look at our roadside distribution map (www.iowadnr.gov/pheasantsurvey) which shows where our better densities are," says Bogenschutz. "Any public or private land in these regions with the appropriate quail habitat should offer great quail hunting this fall."


Insider Tips


"Iowa's quail season this year runs from Oct 27 through Jan 31," Bogenschultz explains. "Last year hunters report harvesting 80 percent of their birds prior to January 1. Hunting success improves once crop harvest is complete, which concentrates birds in the remaining cover. Quail hunters should focus their efforts adjacent to shrubby habitat as bobwhite are always associated with this cover type in the fall and winter. If shrubs are located adjacent to a food source all the better. Dogs are a plus when quail hunting as quail can be elusive and run quite a bit once they've received some hunting pressure."