North Carolina Quail Hunting Forecast 2019


Declining habitat negatively affects quail numbers in North Carolina, but those who are willing to work to find quality cover can still find birds

By Curtis Niedermier

Habitat loss has taken its toll on bobwhite quail in North Carolina, but the birds are still there in areas where good habitat exists. Quail Forever member involvement in these key areas is critical for executing local projects to improve on current conditions. 

“Quail populations are at or near record low levels,” says Christopher D. Kreh, upland game bird biologist with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC). “They are somewhat common in eastern North Carolina, very scarce in the Piedmont and nearly extirpated in western North Carolina. We estimate that we have approximately 5,000 hunters that make at least one hunting trip for wild quail each year.”

Weather and Conditions

According to Kreh, weather conditions for quail were generally good through the nesting and brood-rearing seasons, but local conditions varied quite a bit in their remaining range.

“In a few areas in southeastern North Carolina we do fall covey surveys, and last October found covey numbers to be down substantially, likely due to impacts of Hurricane Florence in that region in September 2018,” Kreh adds.

Top Spots

His best advice for North Carolina quail hunters is to focus on the eastern part of the state. 

“Generally east of I-95,” he says. “Southeast is likely best with areas that have a mix of agriculture and long-leaf pine forests.  

“Most Game Lands in eastern North Carolina provide some opportunity for quail hunting. In particular, hunters should consider applying for special opportunity quota hunts on Voice of America Game Land or the Murphy-Brown Corporate CURE [Cooperative Upland habitat Restoration and Enhancement] area. Quail populations are relatively high on these two areas.”

Additionally, Quail can still be found on the Holly Shelter Game Land and Croatan National Forest Game Land.