Colorado Quail Hunting Forecast 2020

1cacdd58-85d8-454f-af09-46461db19b23 By Marissa Jensen

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Weather and Conditions

Colorado’s winter season provided mild, with no unusual or severe winter weather that would impact quail. Bobwhite numbers heading into the winter season were good where suitable habitat was available, however, scaled quail numbers coming out of winter were lower than optimal, according to Ed Gorman, Small Game Manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Gorman says that much like other states in quail country, Colorado has experienced less than favorable drought conditions. “A dry winter led into a very dry spring, and a droughty summer. We have finally started to get some precipitation after the breeding and brooding period has passed, although this improves the habitat for birds this winter and is very beneficial, it does not help mitigate the droughty spring and summer,” shares Gorman.

Habitat, Broods and Counts

Habitat conditions heading into fall are below average, according to Gorman. Recent gains, however, have been noted in cropland settings due to much-needed late summer precipitation. In addition, Colorado has lost large amounts of CRP over the past three years, with the remaining acres being utilized heavily due to the summer drought. Gorman advises that hunters should expect to see less habitat overall for the 2020 season.
Anecdotally, the hatch for this year appears to be poor, which Gorman says comes as no surprise due to the severity of the state’s dry conditions. Colorado does not currently participate in roadside production counts.

Top Spots

With beautiful views and a variety of species to admire, Colorado still offers great adventure and opportunities. Gorman shares two areas that quail hunters can zone in on this fall.
“The South Platte River corridor from roughly Fort Morgan to the Nebraska state line,” he advises. “Plenty of access exists along the river in the form of State Wildlife Areas. Bobwhite populations are not booming here, but the cover is more consistent than some of the secondary range.”

In addition, Gorman suggests the extreme southeastern Baca County. “In a normal year, this area can be excellent for bobwhites and OK for scaled quail. Unfortunately, birds in this area are very prone to boom and bust fluctuations. We highlight this area because of the number of acres enrolled in the Walk-In Access program. Much of the best habitat is enrolled and open for public access so a hunter should expect a few bobwhites to be found.”

Insider Tip

“Study the places where quail find habitat suitable and recognize that most of the state's pheasant habitat does not hold a significant number of quail,” provides Gorman. “After a string of good years, a hunter can find coveys in non-core areas, including the Frenchman Creek drainage, the Arickaree, Republican and Arkansas river corridor and others.  It also pays to be a weekend weather tracker to keep track of recent weather events, patterns etc.  This pays off in both good years and poor years.”

To learn more about public access opportunities, season dates and other available upland game species to hunt, visit Colorado Parks and Wildlife.


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