Georgia Quail Hunting Forecast 2019

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Dedication to proper habitat management pracitices provides a positive quail outlook for Georgia hunters

By Curtis Niedermier

While the picture of quail hunting in Georgia isn’t what it was a couple of generations ago, hard-working biologists, landowners and Quail Forever members in the state have been enjoying positive results from their habitat management practices.

“After years of population declines, Georgia has been seeing some increases in quail populations across the state,” says Dallas Ingram, a quail biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR). 

Most of the quail hunting opportunities are in southern Georgia, though efforts to expand on habitat improvement projects are underway. Jess McGuire, the QF Working Lands for Wildlife bobwhite coordinator in Georgia, says to expect more positive results in the future.

“I think we’re starting to make really big strides in terms of getting more management on the ground thanks to efforts by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to focus more of their Wildlife Management Areas for quail,” McGuire says. “They have more quail focus areas now. We used to think of Georgia and just think of Di-Lane WMA [a popular quail focus area], and we have a few more in the southwest region now. They’ve done an excellent job of getting things thinned and burned, creating brood habitat and making sure everything quail need is there. It’s pretty optimistic for us in southwest Georgia, and I think we’re expecting more success on public lands.”

Here’s a little more detail on what to expect this coming season.
 

Weather and habitat

Over-winter survival was high in Georgia due to a mild winter. Spring and early summer conditions were equally favorable for the birds.
 
“Weather this year was good and produced lots of quality brood habitat,” Ingram adds. “Rainfall was adequate across the state until the first part of September. Many parts of the state are now in drought status. Due to the current drought, late brood cover is declining, but thanks to Hurricane Michael last fall there is a lot of new early successional habitat and a lot of new cover across southwest Georgia."

“Hatches across Georgia were steady or up slightly, but brood survival was high, which should result in higher populations going into the fall."
 

Top spots

Quail hunters in Georgia should head south for best success on both public and private land.

“Southwest Georgia has traditionally provided the best hunting opportunities in the state with the highest densities of wild birds,” Ingram says. “In east Georgia, there are good opportunities around Burke County, and around Wilcox and Laurens counties in central Georgia."

“Many of the Wildlife Management areas in southwest Georgia provide good quail hunting opportunities, but most are quota hunt only, and those that are open are open only on certain days,” adds Ingram. “Be sure to check the Georgia hunting regulations for details before heading out. In east Georgia, Di-Lane WMA in Waynesboro also provides great quail hunting but is also a quota hunt. There are a lot of private properties around the state that offer wild quail opportunities for a fee.”
 

Insider tips

Applying for a quota hunt is a great way to get on some birds this fall. Georgia’s quota application period runs from Sept. 1-Oct. 15. Visit the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division website for more information.

Otherwise, you need to look for the right types of habitat. In areas with long-leaf pines, look for stands that have been thinned to allow light to penetrate and grasses to grow. Most of the best properties have been managed with fire or mechanical thinning. Brushy cover near ag land is also good.

If you’re unsure of what to look for or the opportunities that exist in Georgia, McGuire suggests reaching out to one of the state’s biologists for more information, or consider joining Quail Forever to get involved and learn more. There are several very active chapters in the state. 
 

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