Washington Quail Hunting Forecast 2017

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Washington quail flock looking good for the hunt

While the spring weather was hit-and-miss throughout Washington – generally long and wet, which doesn’t favor brood-rearing – summer conditions were pretty good, according to Anis Aoude, Game Division manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“If quail ended up renesting, those subsequent broods are probably doing very well,” says Aoude, who expects quail numbers “are going to be fairly similar to last year, even though we may have had some late broods. Winter was pretty tough as well, so we may have lost some adults. But I think overall the population will rebound to about what it was last year.”

He says Washington’s top counties for quail hunting are Chelan, Grant and Yakima. Following are hunting prospects for those counties and more, according to regional hunting prospects reports from district biologists.

District 2 (Lincoln, Spokane and Whitman Counties)
There likely was increased recruitment into the population thanks to the wet spring and warm summer.

District 5 (Adams and Grant counties)
Grant County was the second-highest quail-producing county in 2016. “Quail hunting is expected to be good this year,” according to the report. “Winter and spring precipitation levels were greater than average, but a cool, wet spring may have limited early quail production. But later nesting efforts will likely prove to be more successful because the environmental conditions were much more conducive to brood-rearing.”

District 6 (Okanogan County)
“Anecdotal observations this spring and summer suggest quail production has been good again this year, with some birds having multiple clutches, suggesting 2017 harvest will likely be similar to last year.”

District 7 (Chelan and Douglas Counties)
“Conditions going into the 2016-2017 winter were harder, and over-winter survival of quail in Chelan and Douglas counties may have declined. The amount of insect production this year may have positive effects on broods, as grasshoppers and other insects are important. Production appears good this year and harvest should be similar to last year. There were good summer conditions, especially in Douglas County, but winter was tougher in Chelan County. While no surveys are conducted, field staff members have noted larger and more numerous broods this year, which should make for a promising hunt.”

District 8 (Kittitas and Yakima Counties)
Yakima County leads the state in quail harvest, with an average annual kill for the past five years of about 17,000 birds. But biologists say this year’s quail population likely will be low because last winter was the longest and hardest in the past 20 years. Winter mortality was obvious, according to the hunting prospect report. “Quail can produce large clutches and rebound quickly,” the report notes. “Vegetation growth was excellent and the remaining birds likely had high success. There will be good pockets of quail where they survived the winter. Areas near artificial food sources (houses, cattle feed lots) have the highest probability of good bird numbers.”
 

WASHINGTON HUNTING TIPS

* Valley (California) quail are Washington’s most abundant quail. They are found in huntable numbers on both sides of the Cascades. Mountain quail hunting is open only west of the Cascades.

* Move quickly from one patch of cover to the next, but stop at each one for a short time to let your dog circle and work, then move on and repeat.
 

Links

Washington Quail Page

Washington Public Hunting Access

Washington Upland Bird Regulations