Utah Quail Hunting Forecast 2020

174d5d26-0753-4bd0-b1f1-1dec4dca72e4 By Ted Gartner

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Utah’s long-term quail population trends are actually going upward, and things appear to be shaping up nicely, despite some dry conditions.

 

Weather and Conditions

The 2019-2020 winter was mild, so quail should have had an above average survival rate going into the spring, according to Heather Talley, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources upland game coordinator. Conditions were dry in the spring and summer months.
 

Habitat, Brood, and Counts

Habitat conditions are less desirable than last year, thanks to the dry spring and summer months.  However, Talley says riparian and wetland areas still offer great habitat for upland species, and believes that many species have increased this year due to the mild spring and abundant insect hatch.
 
“The Northeastern and Northern regions have comparable brood success on California quail as last year, while the Southeastern region has seen an increase in brood production for the second consecutive year,” Talley says. “California quail are found sporadically throughout the Southern region, but Gambel's quail have increased this year compared to last year.”
 
Formal quail counts are not available in Utah, but this year should bring numbers that are on par with or better than last year’s.
 

Top Spots

Talley says it’s smart to focus on thick, brushy cover along riparian corridors.  In the southern portion of the state, look for areas with water and cholla cactus.  California quail are often found near farmland along the Colorado, Price, and Green Rivers, and in lower Huntington Canyon.  Gambel's quail can be found in the western portion of Washington County.
 
Talley also reminds hunters that the statewide youth quail hunt season dates have been modified this year to Oct. 31 - Nov. 2.
 

Insider Tip

Gambel’s quail relate to Joshua Trees, so direct your efforts there. Gambel’s will also inhabit dry washes, while California quail prefer water-filled, brush-filled washes.
 
“Bird dogs are almost indispensable in locating and flushing coveys,” says Talley. “If you don’t hunt with a bird dog, and you see quail running, try to close the gap between you and the birds. If you get close enough, you’ll be able to take a shot as they flush.”
 
While hunter orange is not required, Talley strongly encourages wearing it. Also, bring along a box or two of non-toxic shot for some areas. Check the Upland Guidebook for specific WMA regulations. Also, be on the lookout for birds with leg bands, and contact the Division of Wildlife Resources with the band number.
 
Finally, for an added challenge, Talley suggests participating in the Upland Game Slam, which encourages hunters to harvest a variety of upland game species, while generating money to help fund a variety of habitat and upland game-related projects. Hunters complete a slam by harvesting the required amount of the target species.
 
Each slam is designed to give you an extra challenge while you're hunting, as well as the opportunity to earn a commemorative, collectible coin. New for this year: the “Appetizer Slam,” which includes Utah’s smaller gamebirds, including California quail, Gambel’s quail, and mourning dove.
 
 

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