While bobwhite quail in the Buckeye State continue to decline, there are some limited opportunities on private land in the southern part of the state.
According to Nathan Stricker, a wildlife biologist with the Ohio Division of Wildlife, the population of bobwhite quail in the Buckeye State is estimated to be around 10,000 birds. While those numbers may seem small, the season is still open in the south.
We don't know at this point how winter affected our quail populations," says Stricker. We are still analyzing 2021 spring survey data. Recent research indicates that winter mortality can be as high as 90 percent in some of Ohio’s local populations, and that quail populations may need 4-5 years before showing any signs of recovery. We do not directly monitor nesting and brood-rearing in Ohio’s quail populations at this time, but research on Ohio’s quail populations in the past decade suggest that a good year of nesting and brood-rearing is unlikely to overcome losses from winter mortality."
HABITAT, BROODS AND COUNTS
"Upland habitat for quail in Ohio is sparse and in varying quality," says Stricker. "Habitat loss is believed to be one of the primary factors that have driven quail to all-time lows over the past six decades. Ohio has lost over 95 percent of its quail population since the infamous blizzards of 1977 and 1978."
Very few broods were reported in the spring, but Stricker notes that a brood was reported following prescribed fire used to manage quail habitat at Ohio Department of Natural Resources Crown City Wildlife Area in Gallia and Lawrence Counties in southeast Ohio.
"Ohio conducts annual spring whistle counts, performed each year May-June," says Stricker. "But we are still modeling the distribution and population estimates based on these spring surveys. When results are available they will be posted to www.wildohio.gov.
Stricker says Ohio private-land quail populations are highly fragmented and generally difficult to find, so scouting is key. "Hunters may have success on private lands in Adams, Brown, and Highland Counties," says Stricker. "Quail hunting is closed on public lands throughout Ohio, except for a controlled (lottery drawing) hunt at Crown City Wildlife Area and on Tri-Valley Wildlife Area (Muskingum County)."