Summer Quail Report: Arizona

7e395313-e7db-4603-b66c-8a4c9e64ab08 “We had a pretty good, above-average hunting season for Mearns or Montezuma quail in 2016-17,” reports Wade Zarlingo, Small Game Program Manager with the Arizona Department of Game and Fish. “It looks like there was good recruitment in 2016. Juvenile: adult ratios in the harvest were about normal. The Gambel’s quail harvest was below our long-term average.”

“We didn’t have any events last winter that would produce mortality,” says Zarlingo. “Mearns are especially susceptible to harsh weather, but they did okay. There were some wildfires in our Mearns range. Short-term that could be a localized problem. But long-term it will be a positive for habitat.”

“Mearns quail thus far have been receiving summer moisture,” he says, “which they need. That’s good. But I won’t have a full prediction until summer is over.”

“For Gambel’s quail, this year’s call counts were 25% above the long-term average, and double last year’s count. That’s good news too … if we can convert those numbers into a good hatch. I am optimistic on Gambel’s, as we’ve taken a good step in the right direction. Winter moisture – December, January, February – is important to them. And we got that moisture. “

“Weather has been very conducive to good nesting thus far,” adds Zarlingo. “We have had lots of reports of large broods in urban areas, specifically the Phoenix area and around Tucson as well.”

As for best areas to hunt, “I like to suggest areas where hunters can pursue all three species,” says Zarlingo. “The Tucson area is excellent for having three species – Gambel’s, Mearns and scaled – right there or within a couple hours’ drive.”
Arizona has good habitat prospects. “We just picked up another Quail Forever biologist to work with landowners,” says Zarlingo. “Now we have one in each Phoenix and Pine Top.”  

“We are working with the NRCS on landowner relations in southern Arizona, with a focus on scaled quail and restoring the grasslands they need, by removing brush – chiefly mesquite,” says Zarlingo. “Mearns like brush, but scalies need grass. This is the scaled quail country, and we’re trying to help them.”

“There is work to incorporate fuel reduction breaks – 4,000 acres of landscape scale treatment,” adds Zarlingo.” Quail Forever is a part of this. The U.S. Forest Service was going to remove 90% of our oak trees, but 25 to 30% canopy is the right prescription for Mearns."

See the summer quail report from neighboring New Mexico here.

Tom Carpenter is Digital Content Manager at Quail Forever.

Photo credit: Martha Marks, Shutterstock.