Kentucky Quail Hunting Forecast 2018

  • 10/2/2018 11:00:03 AM

Weather and Conditions

"We had a very rainy breeding season in Kentucky this year, which tends to hamper chick survival," reports John Morgan, small game program coordinator with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "Despite that fact, we did receive some promising field reports of early broods and multiple-sized broods. That implies in some areas reproduction was potentially good despite the rain." 

Hatch and Broods

"The last week of July represents our annual mail carrier survey.  We average roughly 800 carriers contributing data through that program that dates back to 1960," says Morgan. "The survey tends to be strongly correlated with fall hunting success.  This year, we hope that is NOT the case.  The results generated the lowest bobwhite observation index on record. However, the substantive rainfall fostered heavy vegetative growth, so we are holding out hope that visibility was lower than a typical summer."

Habitat and Programs

"Our habitat trajectory in the state is unfortunately heading the wrong direction," says Morgan. "Our Green River CREP is sunsetting and 25,000 acres are expiring this year. With CRP at the cap and sign-ups limited, we continue to lose ground on farmland habitat. A new Farm Bill is critically important to the future of bobwhite in KY. On the bright side, we are reinvigorating our work with native grasses as forage and hay and building partnerships toward reconnecting cattle and quail. With roughly five million acres of grasslands, this is must-win for us. We have an exciting new research project on Bluegrass Army Depot studying the connection of well-managed production cattle in a landscape of grazed native grasses and bobwhite. We hope to use that work as catalyst for statewide efforts."

Top Spots

"Muhlenberg and Ohio are consistently among our top counties thanks to expansive mineland acreages," says Morgan. "Despite the reduction of acres in the CREP, good opportunities exist in Hart, Green, and northeast Logan Counties, but those are limited to access to private lands." 

Insider Tips

"We have expanded quail hunting on some of our high-profile quail projects on Kentucky WMAs," Morgan reports. "Peabody, Clay and Rockcastle WMAs have two-day-a-week hunting opportunities that can provide good chances of finding birds. Review the Kentucky hunting guide for more information, and remember that mandatory check-in/out is required at self-serve kiosks."