Ohio Quail Hunting Forecast 2019

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Persistence will be key to flushing coveys of quail in the Buckeye State

By Curtis Niedermier

According to Nathan Stricker, a wildlife biologist with the Ohio Division of Wildlife, the population of bobwhite quail in the Buckeye State is estimated to be between 10,000 and 15,000 birds. While those numbers don’t support major optimism among the state’s upland hunters, the season is still open in 16 counties in the southern part of the state. 
 

Weather and conditions

Stricker says weather conditions this year haven’t been too bad for quail production, though still not ideal.

“In general, winter mortality takes a large toll on Ohio’s quail population, with mortality ranging from 50 to 90 percent, depending on the severity of the winter,” says Stricker. “We are hopeful that this past mild winter allowed for better-than-average survival. However, a cool, wet spring may mean decreased reproduction. Cool, wet weather, including some flooding, may have affected nesting in Ohio.”
 

Population trends

While Ohio does not track nesting and brood activity on an annual basis, roadside counts in early summer show a disappointing picture in the overall status of the quail population.

“Ohio conducts an annual spring male whistle count survey, conducted from roadsides in southern Ohio each May and June,” Stricker says. “Ohio’s quail density is estimated at 0.014 quail per acre, or 14 quail per 1,000 acres. For the past four decades Ohio’s quail population has declined by a little more than 9 percent annually.”
 

Habitat and conditions

The best thing hunters in Ohio could do to benefit upland game species, including bobwhite quail, is to contact their elected officials and urge them to continue to support habitat programs such as CRP that are critical for reversing the trend of habitat loss in a state that is dominated by large-scale agricultural production.

“In general, upland habitat for quail and pheasants is lacking and has contributed to long-term population declines,” says Stricker. “Ohio has lost tens of thousands of acres of CRP in recent years, with significant losses predicted in the next five years as Farm Bill program contracts are set to expire.”

Another program that shows promise is taking place in cooperation with more than 40 private landowners, with help from Quail Forever’s Farm Bill wildlife biologists and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife program biologists, to restore winter and nesting habitat throughout a nearly 10,000-acre region known as the Fallsville Quail Heritage Area in southern Ohio. The habitat work also extends to the Fallsville Wildlife Area, located in the heart of the focus area. 
 

Top Spots

Adams, Brown and Butler counties are among the best places in the state to find remnant quail populations on private land. There are several public areas where a hunter could locate some birds within the 16-county zone where quail hunting is allowed. 

“Persistence and early scouting can pay off,” adds Stricker. “Small farms with old fields and odd areas may hold small pockets of quail.”