Nevada Quail Hunting Forecast 2020

4dac20e6-79b7-41d9-b412-d74afa3ffdcd By Ted Gartner

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The northern portion of the state has been experiencing prolonged moderate or severe drought conditions, so it may be a challenge to hit the jackpot on Nevada birds this year.

Weather and Conditions

January and February were extremely dry in the northern half of the Silver State this year where California quail and a fewer number of mountain quail reside. Scattered rain helped somewhat in April and May, but conditions continue to be well below average rainfall totals.
In the southern half of the state, where Gambel’s quail call home, rainfall was considered normal, and range conditions are looking good.

Habitat, Broods and Counts

Like so much of the west, moisture is the key ingredient in any successful quail recipe - and not just the amount of rain, but the timing of it is critical, too.
The Nevada Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) for California quail suggests that since 2006, California quail have been on a slow but steady rise, but it’s questionable if the 2020 season will continue that trend. The Nevada BBS also indicates increasing populations of Gambel’s quail beginning in 2014.
“Some significant storms that tracked through Clark and southern Lincoln Counties should have improved habitat conditions for Gambel’s quail prior to nesting,” says Shawn Espinosa, upland game staff specialist with the Nevada Department of Wildlife.

Top Spots

Simple - go where the water is. For Gambel’s quail, mother nature seems to have provided them with all the moisture that they need. Focus on draws and dry washes that offer cover that’s thick enough for the birds to hide in, but with enough open corridors for them to make their escape on foot. Focus on Clark, Lincoln, and Nye counties.
For California quail, finding water sources may be more difficult, but oftentimes, these valley birds will congregate around irrigated agriculture, so it’s worth knocking on some farm doors. Most eastern and northeastern counties hold huntable populations of California quail.
If it’s mountain quail you’re after, focus on areas closest to Carson City. They can easily adapt to different habitats, but many times they can be located on the edges between open country and forests.

Insider Tip

Always bet on black - that’d be the black and white pages of the Nevada Department of Wildlife’s Water Development Atlas. These maps show locations of man-made “guzzlers,” or rainwater runoff collection and storage structures. They’re designed to attract wildlife, including quail. More than 1600 of them have been erected throughout the state.


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