Idaho Quail Hunting Forecast 2019

c6ceffb8-a196-486f-947f-cf0121e9aa87 By Ted Gartner

Idaho is home to California quail, which are dispersed from south central Idaho, west to the Oregon border and north to the Palouse Prairie. Bobwhite quail also exist in huntable populations in a similar distribution.


The Idaho winter in 2018-2019 was relatively mild, with the exception being a heavy snow that blanketed much of the state in February. According to Jeff Knetter, upland game and migratory bird coordinator for Idaho Fish and Game Department, that set the table for a healthy hatch. “Spring conditions were favorable for quail production,” says Knetter. “It was a bit more wet than average, and temperatures were average to slightly above average. Summer conditions have been warm and dry.”
Late summer range conditions have been dry, but insect population has been robust and Knetter doesn’t expect the hot and dry conditions to affect the quail.


“Given the above average precipitation this spring, upland habitat quality should be in excellent shape for this fall,” says Knetter. “While there have been no formal survey results available, quail broods have been observed regularly, and chick size has been variable. That suggests variable hatch success and timing. Brood rearing conditions have been excellent with abundant insects available.”
Southwest Idaho is experiencing a dry conditions, but cover remains thanks to spring rains, which made for a bumper crop of wild sunflowers and other seed-bearing plants.


Hunters should focus on the southwest region of the state, followed by Magic Valley in the south central portion of Idaho. The Clearwater region will also hold huntable populations of quail, Knetter says.


Knetter says to look for riparian areas with good understory vegetation – if water is available, it is even better. Good populations live along rivers and streams with brushy cover below 3,500 feet in elevation. Be on the lookout for mountain quail - but don’t shoot - the season is closed. This bird was once common in the western part of Idaho but now exists only in small scattered populations. Report any sightings to the state Fish & Game office.

And don’t forget - quail are only one jewel in the Gem State. Hunters can pursue five native species of grouse - dusky, ruffed, sage, sharptail, and spruce grouse - in addition to chukar, Hungarian partridge, and a healthy population of pheasants. That makes Idaho a bucket list state for many wingshooters.