Although he’s hedging his bets until October surveys are finished, Scott Cox, upland game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation says, “Quail numbers are looking very, very good.”
That is especially true in the western part of the state. “The western and panhandle counties, excluding Cimarron County, will have the best bird numbers and more opportunities’ for hunters to find public access,” says Cox. But, “I would definitely hunt any part of the state that has the habitat to support quail populations.”
In fact, bobwhite quail are more abundant in four of six regions of the state. “We are close to or above our 26-year average in four of six regions and definitely above our 26-year average statewide,” says Cox. That includes the northwest, north-central, northeast and southwest.
The only exception is south-central Oklahoma. “This is the second year in a row that we have not shown improving numbers that are comparable to the other regions,” he says. “There might be a vast array of issues, such as habitat loss, flooding, increased agriculture practices, lack of prescribed burning, and a six- to seven-week drought event in that area over the summer, right after all the flooding.”
Scaled (blue) quail are also doing well. The best numbers are in extreme western Oklahoma. Best bets, says Cox, are wildlife management areas in Beaver, Optima, and Rita Blanca counties.
For both species, he says, “most of western Oklahoma supports our highest quail numbers and we have thousands of public acres to hunt.”
November 14, 2015 through February 15, 2016
Daily Bag Limit:
20, after first day of the season