Utah Quail Hunting Forecast 2019

f94ccd8a-9386-4d30-b11f-7ce3c97564f2 By Ted Gartner

Utah’s long-term quail population trends are actually going upward, despite fluctuating rainfall from year to year.


Populations were down coming into last winter, thanks to a significant drought, according to Heather Talley, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources upland game coordinator. Winter weather conditions were moderate across much of Utah during 2018-2019, and spring brought heavy rainstorms, which likely affected broods.


Those birds that were able to survive the wet spring are likely enjoying excellent cover coming into the hunting season, with a variety of seeds and forbs available as well as abundant roost sites.

Formal quail counts are not available in Utah, but this year should bring numbers that are similar to last year’s, if not slightly better.


California quail populations are on a long-term population increase in Utah, though populations were down last year due to the drought. Hunting quail differs in each region.  In the northeastern region, quail reside mostly on private property, so be sure to ask for written permission, or hunt on Walk-In Access properties to increase success.  In the West Desert portion of the central region, quail hunting is limited due to most populations inhabiting urban areas.

“The highest numbers of California quail are in and around Tooele City.  Quail are not widespread in the southeastern region, but there are localized populations near farmlands along the Colorado and Green Rivers as well as lower Huntington Canyon and along the Price River,” says Talley.  “The southern region has California quail in the valleys of the town of Fillmore and Sevier County, as well as south and east of Kanab, along the Arizona border.  Focus on wet washes with brushy cover.”

Utah also offers a healthy population of Gambel’s quail, particularly around Washington County, located in the far southwestern portion of the state. Gambel's are likely found in draws with black brush or desert almond.

“Try hunting washes with brush below 5,000 feet in elevation.  California and Gambel's quail are hunted using similar methods — just in different habitats.  When hunting Gambel's quail, look for Joshua trees, and then walk near dry washes and draws,” says Talley.


Talley says if your dog flushes a covey of quail while you're still at a distance, you might actually be increasing your chances of bagging one.  

“The individual quail will hold better than if they are together in a covey, so your dog can point singles, and you will likely be able to get closer to the bird before it flushes,” explains Talley.  “If you don't have a dog, you can still hunt quail successfully, if you're willing to sprint towards running quail.  If you get close enough before they fly, you can still get a good shot.”

Talley also advises any hunters who harvest birds with aluminum leg bands to note the registration number and call the local DWR office to report it. Biologists use banding information to learn more about quail survival and distribution in Utah.

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