Illinois – Sixth Driest Summer Leads to Varied Reports

Forecast: “This year’s Illinois quail hunting outlook is a toss-up,” according to Michael Wefer, ag and grassland program manager with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “There is good data suggesting that quail began nesting earlier, with nearly 45 percent more birds in early season counts; however, the severe drought caused lower nest success and brood survival. If a good number of the early nests were successful, quail might have still done okay. If not, the quail numbers may be down for Illinois 2012/13 hunting season.”

As reported in Quail Forever’s Nesting Habitat Conditions Report, Illinois experienced a mild winter and spring. However, the summer drought may have erased many of the benefits from the mild winter. The statewide average temperatures for the three summer months of June, July and August was 76.1 degrees, 2.6 degrees above normal, making the summer of 2012 the eighth warmest summer on record in Illinois, said Wefer. In addition, the statewide average precipitation for June-August was 6.64”, a full 5.21” below normal, making it the sixth driest summer on record.

Hunters willing to wear through some boot leather this season should look for farms with a good mix of row crops, small grains, legumes and grassland (excluding fescue and reed canary grass) well connected by wooded fencerows and forest edges. Though quail are found throughout the state, the most productive regions continue to be south-central and west-central Illinois. Historically, top quail producing counties include Franklin, Perry, Wayne, Adams, Brown and Jersey, with Northern Iroquois County being an area overlooked for good quail hunting.

Season Dates: November 3, 2012 through January 8, 2013 (North) November 3, 2012 through January 15, 2013 (South)
Daily Bag Limit: 8
Possession Limit: 20 after the third day
Field Notes: In June upland counts within Illinois’ quail range observed and recorded an average of 0.86 quail per stop (up 19.4 percent from 2011) and found quail at 44.1 percent of stops (up 18.8 percent).

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