Iowa – Old Man Winter is Not a Quail Hunter

Forecast: For the fifth consecutive winter, Iowa’s quail were dealt a brutal hand, with the average snowfall climbing to 50 percent above normal years with 30+ inches. Combined with the wet/cool spring of 2011, there was no reprieve from the previous four years of poor weather and all but guaranteed Iowa’s 2011 quail counts would decline, reports Todd Bogenschutz, Upland Wildlife Research Biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Statewide, bobwhite numbers are down 36 percent from 2010 counts, which represents a new record low quail count for Iowa. Furthermore, this figure represents a 63 percent decline from the 10-year average and an 84 percent decline from the long-term average. Changing land-use, mainly intensified agriculture, loss of small grains, and maturing forests are the leading factors in the decline. Only pockets of quail will likely be found in the best coverts across the southeastern half of the Iowa range. Hardy hunters should look to the southeast region which has traditionally held the highest quail numbers, Bogenschutz noted.

Season Dates: October 29, 2011 through January 31, 2012
Daily Bag Limit: 8
Possession Limit: 16
Field Notes: Iowa initiated a new Habitat and Access Program this fall (IHAP). It is a program designed to improve wildlife habitat on private land and make that land open to public hunting. Several of these new areas are located in Iowa’s quail range. It is important to note that these private lands were just enrolled in August, so it will take several years for habitat work to be completed.

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