Quail Season Forecast
October 11, 2017
Editorial Staff (190 articles)
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Quail Season Forecast

Quail season starts Oct. 28

By Will Leschper

Quail hunting in Texas has largely been hit or miss for the better part of the past two decades, with large declines in bird numbers that have biologists scratching their heads.

However last year saw a boom in production and quail counts, and some hunters had their best bobwhite seasons ever.

Texas quail surveys last year showed phenomenal numbers of birds in traditional hot spots as well as in other noted strongholds. The prime example is the Rolling Plains, the area of the state that includes a variety of excellent habitat and spanning from Lubbock and San Angelo on the western edge to the Red River basin in the east.

The average number of bobwhite quail observed per survey route was a staggering 50, a big jump from the more than 38 observed in 2015. When you consider that the long-term average sits at just under 21, that bodes well for quail prospects in the hotbed for bobwhite activity.

It also should be noted that the 2015 count had been the lone one since 2008 that reached the double digits in the Rolling Plains.

High Plains, Panhandle quail numbers good

The High Plains and Panhandle, another bastion for bobwhites, also saw phenomenal bird numbers that hadn’t been observed – ever. The 2015 count was an impressive nearly 11 per survey route, but the 2016 figure of more than 21 is simply staggering, considering the long-term average had been about 4.

bobwhite quail

The 2016 figure of more than 21 quail per survey route for the High Plains and Panhandle is simply staggering.

While bobwhites dominate the quail hunting landscape in Texas, another species out west also has benefited from better habitat conditions. Scaled quail, like bobwhites, can rebound quickly under optimum conditions, something they had in 2015 and 2016.

Like the bobwhite counts, scaled quail figures in the Trans-Pecos region were off the charts last year, rising from 6 birds per route in 2014 to about 28 in 2015 and an amazing 30.5 last year. That represents the highest scaled quail figure in that hunting hot bed since the early 1980s.

“Consecutive years of dry summer and winter conditions are especially problematic for short-lived birds like quail because they rely on each year’s crop of young to replenish the population. By the same token, consecutive years of above average rainfall and lower than average summer temperatures can produce quail ‘boom’ years,” said Robert Perez, upland game bird program leader for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

“It’s important to recognize that bobwhite quail have all but disappeared from other regions of our state due to extensive changes in the quantity and quality of available habitat. TPWD is diligently working with conservation partners and land stewards within key quail focus areas to demonstrate that bobwhites can make a comeback.”

Quail season will run through Feb. 25, 2018.

TPWD photos

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