Iowa Quail Hunting Forecast 2017


Iowa quail numbers at modern-day highs; the bobwhite hunt should be very good

At first glance, it could appear that quail are struggling in Iowa. After all, the results of the August Roadside Surveys showed quail numbers were unchanged from 2016, and it appears that the population trend was, overall, down. 
But hunters should note that poor weather conditions during the survey – poor dew conditions as a result of drought – likely skewed the results, according to Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “Sight-ability of birds was reduced.”
And just how much might have those poor survey conditions have skewed the results? “Landowners and staff are reporting abundant quail across our quail range,” he says. The anecdotal evidence is strong, and even the numbers aren’t bad.
Generally speaking, quail have been the beneficiaries of good weather. “Overall, the winter was excellent for hen survival,” Bogenschutz reports. “Wet and cool weather during April and May likely impacted some nests, but the weather turned dry in July and August for second and third nests.”
“Iowa’s statewide bobwhite quail index was 1.13 birds/route,” says Bogenschutz. “That’s compared to last year’s index of 1.47 birds/route. But the trend was not statistically significant.” 
“This year, Iowa could have its best quail numbers in 30 years,” states Bogenschutz. “Anyone who has ever had interest in quail hunting or hasn’t hunted quail recently – this would be the year to go!”
This table tells the quail count story:
This map gives you a good idea of Iowa’s quail range:


Bogenschutz expects quail hunting will be good across all three of Iowa lower tiers of counties, the Hawkeye state’s prime quail range (see map above).  For hunters, Bogenschutz offers the following advice:

* “Hunter success tends to be the best the first 30 days of the season.”

* “Hunters should look for landscapes with a good mixture of hay, pasture, crops and shrubby cover. If you find these cover types interspersed across a 20- to 40-acre area, you are in prime quail habitat.”