Iowa Quail Hunting Forecast 2020

  • 10/5/2020 7:15:20 PM
a62d0d41-91ac-4911-af71-8db634ab4d28 By Marissa Jensen

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Thinking of heading to the Hawkeye state for quail this season? We have the inside scoop waiting for you!

Weather and Conditions

Winter weather was primarily good throughout Iowa, however, there were two weeks which delivered snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures throughout the state’s quail range which likely impacted overwinter survival. Spring and summer were additionally good, with April and May being cooler than normal. Rainfall, however, was the lowest the state has seen in the past twenty years which is a factor that may need to be considered this season.

Habitat, Broods and Counts

Upland habitat across Iowa is going to look like last season’s, according to Todd Bogenschutz, Upland Wildlife Research Biologist for Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “We have 1.7 million acres of CRP which is much lower than our historic peak of 2.2 million acres, and approximately 100,000 acres less than was seen in 2018.”
Iowa experienced dry weather this year, much like many of the midwestern states in quail country. The state’s drought may have impacted roadside surveys, however, Bogenshutz is hopeful that the true impact on the state’s quail population will be minimal.
“In the past we haven’t seen good reproduction in drought years, but the drought this year was not particularly long, so we are unsure if it had impacts on reproduction or not.”
Readers can view Iowa’s full report at The survey shows that quail numbers in Iowa remain unchanged from last year, however, the overall trend has slightly declined. Bogenshutz shares that counts in southwest Iowa were higher than last year, southcentral counts were lower, and southeast Iowa remains unchanged. “Anecdotally, staff have reported seeing more quail this year than last during work activities, so it’s possible we didn’t get an accurate count of birds with the dry conditions during roadside counts.”

Top Spots

Thinking of visiting Iowa this fall? Or maybe you’re a resident looking to try somewhere new? Bogenshutz suggests that hunters visit the state’s quail distribution map to find where the numbers are highest. Additionally, the southwest region holds opportunity for quail hunters, however, don’t discount southeast Iowa as Bogenshutz indicates this area could be a “sleeper.”

Roadmaps and publicly accessible land can be viewed either online or hard copy of Iowa’s Hunting Atlas. Additionally, over 20,000 publicly accessible acres are available for hunters to consider through the Iowa Habitat and Access Program (IHAP). Hunters can learn more about IHAP and download maps to select areas which they wish to target.

Insider Tip

Bogenshutz advises hunters to start earlier in the morning for a successful, early season hunt. “I’d suggest hunters get up before daybreak and listen for covey calls in the first month of the season. Coveys sound off with a covey call from 45 minutes to 25 minutes before sunrise each morning. Hunters may need to split up to listen to different areas.” Bogenshutz reminds us that not every covey sounds off in the morning, so if a call isn’t heard, that doesn’t mean there aren’t quail in the area. “If coveys are not calling, studies have shown that there is only about a 50:50 chance a covey will sound off.”


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