Arizona - Expect Slightly Better Year

Forecast: According to Johnathan O’Dell, small game biologist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Arizona’s big 3 quail species, Gambel’s, scaled, and Mearns’, are all very sensitive to the amount of precipitation and its timing. As an arid state, moisture triggers growth of cover and forage in Arizona, both of which are critical to quail reproduction and survival. For nesting success, Gambel’s respond to winter rains, scaled spring rains, and Mearns’ summer monsoons. However, rain is not evenly applied over the landscape so pockets develop that hold better quail numbers than other areas. Serious scouting and rain gauge data are two of your best resources for a successful hunt.

The 2011 call count resulted in the lowest numbers we’ve seen since the surveys began. Of course this was well below the long-term (40 year) average and is likely to have negatively impacted harvest. The 2012 call count index is still below the long-term average, but is on par with the short-term (10 year) average. These low numbers are primarily explained by the severe drought Arizona has experienced in the last few years.

Fort Chaffee Wildlife Management Area and pine-bluestem restorations on the Ouachita National Forest are areas most likely to hold decent quail numbers. In addition, there is an aggressive effort to reestablish quality quail habitat on Gulf Mountain and Ed Gordon Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), according to Clifton Jackson, quail and small game program coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

Drought conditions in the first half of 2012 produced little in the way of favorable conditions for either Gambel’s or scaled quail. Young Gambel’s quail were first observed this year in April, but later hatches occurred in some areas. The La Niña weather patterns dominated all of Arizona from January through June. This year’s monsoonal rains did arrive on schedule and have dropped a fair amount of water.

The bottom line is, expect a slightly better year than last for all three quail species, but no better than what Arizona has seen in the past 10 years.

Season Dates: Gambel’s, Scaled and California quail Oct 5, 2012 - Feb 10, 2013 Mearns’ quail Dec 7, 2012 - Feb 10, 2013
Daily Bag Limit: Fifteen (15) quail per day in the aggregate of which no more than eight (8) may be Mearns’ quail
Possession Limit: Thirty (30) quail in the aggregate after opening day of which no more than fifteen (15) Gambel’s, Scaled, or California quail in the aggregate may be taken in one day. After Mearns’ season opens, the 30 quail possession limit may include Mearns’ quail of which no more than eight (8) may be taken in any one day.

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