Texas Quail Hunting Forecast 2019

df881854-69c7-4442-8d2d-29cb76fe010b By Ted Gartner

“Spotty” is often used to describe quail populations in the Lone Star State, and that fits Texas to a T for the upcoming 2019-2020 quail season. After an almost universally poor season last year, biologists are hopeful quail populations are on the rebound. It’ll be a far cry from the boom years of the mid-2010s, but with a little effort, most hunters should see enough birds to keep things interesting.
 

WEATHER AND CONDITIONS

Coming into 2019, quail habitat conditions were looking good, with adequate rain and temperate weather throughout much of quail country. But while quail habitat was faring well, the bird population was significantly down from previous years. That means there were fewer carryover birds to make chicks, which limited production.

“In the western part of the state, we had a lot of early spring rain that seems to have pushed nesting season back a bit,” says Derek Wiley, a coordinating wildlife biologist for Quail Forever. “And then come July, it got real hot and the rain just shut off. I’m not sure we’re going to see the jump from last year that I had hoped we’d see.”

“We had a mild winter and a fairly good spring with plenty of moisture. Up until mid to late June, everybody was reporting that they were seeing birds, including young birds,” explains Robert Perez, upland game bird program leader at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “And then it got hot and dry - but by that time, the chicks were off the nest.”
 

HABITAT, BROODS AND COUNTS

“In August, when it came time to do the road counts, it was still really hot, and people weren’t hearing as many birds as they were expecting,” says Perez.

That set off a flurry of speculation on the birds’ whereabouts, including possible disease outbreaks. Perez’ theory is much simpler. He believes that that generally speaking, the birds are still there - they’re just hunkered down in thicker cover, where it’s cooler. 

“I think there are more birds out there than what we’re seeing. It’s not going to be a great year, but it’ll be an improvement over last year,” he says. “We haven’t had any weather event that gives me any reason to think we’ve had a large die-off this summer.”

“I do think it’ll be better than last year, just not leaps and bounds better,” says Wiley. “The more quality habitat you’ve got contiguously, that’ll certainly help things.”

Perez calls this season a building year. “God willing and the creeks don’t rise, the weather will cooperate and we’ll have a significantly better year next year.”
 

TOP SPOTS

Private land and season-long leases are king in Texas, so if you’re planning a trip from out-of-state, be sure to plan ahead and find an outfitter. There are a couple of quail-producing WMAs in the Panhandle Plains, but hunting is only allowed during certain periods and usually requires on site check-in.
 

INSIDER TIP

If you’re considering getting on a Texas quail lease, do your homework online. There are a number of social media pages that can give you an idea of quail habitat and numbers in the area you’re considering.

And if you find a piece of property with good quail habitat, you may just have to be patient until conditions are right for a bumper crop of bobs and blues.
 

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