Kentucky Quail Hunting Forecast 2017

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Kentucky quail counts holding their own, hatch looked good

It’s a bit unclear what quail hunters will experience this fall in Kentucky. Fall covey counts won’t be completed and available until early November, but results from the annual Rural Mail Carrier Survey, which is completed during the last week of July, were identical to 2016. 

Last year was a poor quail-hunting season in Kentucky, according to John Morgan, quail coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. The mail carrier survey tends to be a fairly good indicator of the coming hunting season.

“However, the extraordinarily mild winter did hamper hunting conditions,” he says. “If we experience a more normal winter, hunting should be better this season than last.”

One thing is clear: The weather has been cooperative when it comes to producing quail. That’s some good news.

“All in all, we had a solid breeding season from a weather standpoint,” Morgan says. “We had early precipitation in April and May that fostered good vegetative growth, and well-spaced rains throughout the summer maintained good growing conditions. Insect populations should have done very well in that environment.”

“There was a single poorly timed event in the heart of our first nesting period that does raise some concern,” he reports. “Tropical Storm Cindy brought some 2- to 3-inch rain events in early July.”


KENTUCKY WHERE-TO-GO

Hunters who plan to target quail in Kentucky this fall would be wise to try one – or all – of the following spots that Morgan suggests:

• Peabody WMA, which is 40,000 acres of primarily reclaimed minelands. It’s the number one public hunting destination in Kentucky, he says. The Sinclair Tract is open from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., six days a week, and has enhanced management that supports higher-density quail opportunities.

• The south-central part of Kentucky in and around Bowling Green supports more than 90,000 acres of native prairie planted through the Federal Farm Bill. In areas with high-density plantings, quail hunting can be very good, Morgan says. Hunters should note these areas are entirely on private land.

• Thousands of acres of reclaimed minelands in eastern Kentucky routinely hold bobwhite quail, Morgan says. “It remains possible to harvest a bobwhite, woodcock and ruffed grouse on a single hunt in this part of the state,” he says. “This is a rare feat, but it does provide a very intriguing hunting opportunity.”


KENTUCKY QUAIL HUNTING TIPS

* “The week of Thanksgiving tends to kick off the most aggressive bobwhite quail hunting in Kentucky,” Morgan says. “That generally follows the close of the modern gun deer season.”

* “The key to quail hunting success is finding well-connected blocks of habitat across thousands of acres,” advises Morgan. “These locations will sustain much more consistent hinting year after year.”

* “When afield, focusing on good woody escape cover in close proximity to food is the most productive use of your hunting time,” he concludes.
 

LINKS

Kentucky Quail Page

Kentucky Public Lands Hunting

Kentucky Wildlife Management Areas