Florida Quail Hunting Forecast 2020

61c2b971-0fa6-45dc-9375-dffd770be741 By Oliver Hartner

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Bobwhite quail have a storied history in this part of the southeast region. Dedicated landowners and Quail Forever chapters are investing time and money into best practices for habitat management, and despite setbacks from Hurricane Sally, the bobwhite quail population in Florida remains stable where best practices for land management are implemented.


Greg Hagan, Quail Biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, says, “In general, moderate weather conditions throughout the winter months resulted in improved over-winter survival. This ought to position birds favorably going into the breeding season.”
In regards to spring and summer weather conditions, Hagan adds, “Late spring and early summer weather patterns resulted in above average nesting and adult breeding season survival.” He adds that untimely rain events, particularly in north Florida, during the early hatch meant that brood rearing success appeared to be slightly down. 


Hagan says, “On areas implementing quality bobwhite management, the habitat is in excellent shape.” He readily admits that Hurricane Sally had a profound impact on the integrity of the brood and hatch cycle saying, “Unfortunately, properties located in the panhandle region experienced significant impacts (15 – 20” of rain) from Hurricane Sally in mid-September.  As a result, brood production and any late season hatch was most likely impacted.” However, Hagan adds that according to Dr. Theron Terhune, Gamebird Director at Tall Timbers Research Station, chick survival has dramatically improved throughout the breeding season, and barring any additional impacts from tropical systems, the quail should be well positioned going into the fall.


For those interested in hunting quail in Florida this fall, Hagan says, “Areas in north and central Florida have historically produced quality hunting opportunities.  As mentioned above, the panhandle region (historically a great hunting destination) may have reduced populations due to Hurricane Sally.”


For those hunting on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs), Hagan advises, “If you’re planning to hunt on one of Florida’s many public WMAs, please consult the WMA brochure specific to the area you plan to hunt before heading afield as many areas have differing season dates, rules and regulations.  Information can be found at: https://myfwc.com/hunting/wma-brochures/.”


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