Washington Quail Hunting Forecast 2019

44b17978-9b6d-4685-ad2e-94c4d0869982 By Ted Gartner

Washington appears to have gotten a late start on their quail hatch this year. But once nesting finally began, brood success was generally high, thanks to above average habitat in the form of cover and food sources.
 

WEATHER AND CONDITIONS

“Washington had a relatively mild winter, but it lasted longer than normal with an atypically harsh snowstorm in late February and some wintery conditions extending into March. This may have affected spring green-up and led to poor quail carryover,” says Sarah Garrison, small game and furbearer specialist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“Spring conditions in parts of eastern Washington were relatively wet with average to warm temperatures. In western and northeastern Washington, though, May precipitation was much below normal,” Garrison added. “A warm June and cool July were relatively dry compared to normal in eastern Washington, but periodic rains kept more forage available later into the season and we saw fewer fires. Western Washington experienced an unusually wet July which also contributed to improved forage.”
 

HABITAT, BROODS AND COUNTS

The amount and quality of habitat in Washington quail country is similar to last year, but down relative to historic levels that were present in the 1960s, and up relative to the early 2000s. Garrison credits these improvements to the implementation of more wildlife-friendly CRP programs like State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE).

“Anecdotal reports in northeastern Washington indicate we may have a boomer year for quail in that area,” explains Garrison. “Biologists in eastern Washington saw a fair number of broods during late summer deer and pheasant surveys near farmsteads where there is some quail habitat and cover, but were not seeing many earlier in the spring/summer.”

“Likewise in south-central Washington, hatches appeared to be late, with new quail broods appearing even in late August. This could mean the carryover population was low, first nesting was late with low success, but the second nesting and later nestings were more successful,” Garrison says.
 

TOP SPOTS

Yakima and Grant counties consistently yield the highest quail harvest in the state. Last year, Yakima County had the third highest success rate (in counties with more than 50 hunters), with just below 2 quail per day. The Yakama Nation typically has the best bird numbers in this area, and hunters on the Sunnyside Wildlife Area had a lower success rate than the county average.

Douglas and Okanogan counties also saw high success rates last year for quail hunters. This year, reports from the field indicate northeastern Washington may be especially good for quail hunting. This area tends to see fewer quail hunters and may be a good opportunity for those looking for a new area to explore. For more information on each district, including the fall hunting prospects, visit: wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/locations/prospects.
 

INSIDER TIP

Garrison says that where public land access may be limited, be sure to secure permission on private land by talking to individual private landowners or through one of the WDFW Private Land Access programs (see wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/locations/private-lands for more information).

“In eastern Washington, find those properties with habitat and cover, since many lands are wheat fields from road edge to road edge. Old farmsteads and riparian areas where there is some cover and habitat can also provide good hunting in eastern Washington,” says Garrison.

“Good places for quail in northeastern Washington are in lower elevation old cuts, with ground cover and a lot of slash. It makes for hard walking, but good for quail hunting. In south central Washington, look for areas where quail survived the past winter.  Those areas include Russian olive, thick kochia, cattle, or houses where people might have fed birds,” Garrison says.
 

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