Mississippi Quail Hunting Forecast 2020

6a8cdb5c-432c-438b-8559-27794d397b5e By Oliver Hartner

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Mild winter temperatures plus favorable spring and summer rain conditions equal a favorable forecast for Magnolia State quail hunters. With a lot of legwork on properly managed habitat, wild coveys await those willing to chase them.
  

WEATHER AND CONDITIONS

“We had another mild winter in 2019-20, and that may have allowed for better carryover of birds into this spring. Observational reports of birds in the spring were generally positive, with some reports of seeing and hearing more quail around than in previous years,” says Rick Hamrick, Wildlife Biologist for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.
Hamrick says consecutive summers of favorable brood production and good winter carryover resulted in a better than usual breeding season population.  Summer weather conditions have also been generally favorable for nesting and brood-rearing in Mississippi.
“Aside from some localized spots, rainfall was adequate to keep vegetation in good condition through most of the summer, but not too overly wet to cause major concerns for nesting success and early brood-rearing,” Hamrick believes. 
 

HABITAT, BROODS AND COUNTS

Hamrick says where suitable habitat conditions are available, habitat quality should be favorable. “The amount and arrangement of suitable habitat is typically the main limiting factor to substantial hunting potential. There are some areas with birds, but hunters should expect to put in some legwork to find coveys,” Hamrick mentions.

Observational reports suggest a good quail hatch occurred again this summer when compared against data collected from last summer. “We conduct breeding season call count surveys on Wildlife Management Areas with more upland habitat types. Not all of these areas have abundant quail habitat, but the potential for quail habitat may be there, and they are monitored for any changes through time,” Hamrick explains. 
 

TOP SPOTS


Hamrick directs quail hunters to the Mississippi Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and national forests in the Southwest and Southeast regions for potential public land hunting opportunities. “Prescribed burning and other forest management activities in these piney woods areas produce some favorable quail habitat spots.” He also adds that some areas of Northeast Mississippi also have favorable land use conditions for quail. The website for Mississippi WMAs are found at http://www.mdwfp.com/wildlife-hunting/wma/, and those for the National Forests are found at https://www.fs.usda.gov/mississippi/
 

INSIDER TIP


For those ready to explore the piney woods of Mississippi, Hamrick advises, “Be ready to cover a lot of ground and get into some thicker cover as the season advances. Birds will often use hardwood edges and thickets to seek cover and feed on smaller acorns and fragments left by other animals. Working these areas within the vicinity of fields and more open woods with grassy ground cover may produce a covey contact or two, and probably a few woodcock as well.”

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