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8 Quail Hunting Tips

8 Quail Hunting Tips

Quail hunting is a gentleman's game and is often a spectator and participator sport at the same time. Frosted fields, crisp morning air, and the joy of watching a pair of well trained bird dogs on the scent of the elusive bobwhite is surely one of life's greatest pleasures. 

Six native species of quail are found in North America

  • Bobwhite Quail: The most common species of quail, the bobwhite is often referred to as the number one game bird of the eastern and southern United States. The name "bobwhite" derives from its characteristic whistling call. 
  • California Quail: Also known as valley quail, California quail are the most popular of the five species of western quail. These birds have a curving crest or plume, made of six feathers, that droops forward: black in males and brown for females; the flanks are brown with white streaks. 
  • Mountain Quail: The largest quail species found in the United States, these birds possess a unique characteristic of two straight feathers that arch over the back. These birds are easily recognized by their top knots, which are shorter in the female. They have a brown face and heavily white-barred underside.
  • Gambel's Quail: Also known as desert quail, Gambel's quail are located in dry regions of the southwestern United States. Gambel's quail are easily recognized by their top knots and scaly plumage on their undersides. They have gray plumage on their bodies, and males have copper feathers on the top of their heads, black faces, and white stripes above their eyes. 
  • Scaled Quail: Also known as blue quail, Scaled quail are known for their blue scaled appearance. Along with its scaly markings, the bird is easily identified by its white crest that resembles a tuft of cotton. 
  • Mearn’s Quail: With the smallest range in the United States, the Mearn's quail is found in southern Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico. They live in mountain areas populated with oak and juniper trees, as well as grasslands. Often referred to as Montezuma quail, they have a unique coloration of feathers which aids in their means of camoflauge.

Fast Facts

  • Quail are are typically found in small flocks, otherwise known as "coveys." A covey usually contains 8 to 25 birds.
  • Flight speed of most quail is 30 to 40 mph.  
  • If startled, these birds explode into short rapid flight, called “flushing.” 
  • Quail cannot endure long flights, and they usually live their entire lives within a 40-acre radius. 
  • Quail have a lifespan of 2-3 years.

8 Quail Hunting Tips

  1. Late season is the best time to hunt for quail. Hunting late season gives you the ability to get more quail because most hunters believe that the conveys are all shot out by then.
  2. A good hunting dog is to your advantage. Dogs are usually used when quail hunting due to how easily they can detect a quail. Bringing more than one dog will make it a lot easier to hunt quail successfully.
  3. Use a shotgun when quail hunting. A shotgun with a 410 to 12 gauge is best and most commonly used when hunting quail. 
  4. Know their routines. Quail usually fly out of grass fields about 2 hours after the sun rises and then return in the late morning. Spend some time watching quail to get a better idea of their daily routines.
  5. Look for fresh tracks. Always look for fresh signs of quail tracks to tell if they are in the area. Old tracks or no tracks probably mean there are no quail around.
  6. Never shoot a low flying quail. Shooting at a low flying quail could cause you to lower your muzzle below a horizontal plane with the ground. 
  7. Quiet! Quail rely on their hearing to detect danger. They will travel hundreds of yards away to escape, resulting in you having a more complicated hunt.
  8. Walk into the wind. Walking into the wind will give the quail a lesser chance of hearing you and makes it easier for dogs to pick up the scent. It also helps the dogs to hear running quail.

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Resources

American Expedition, "Quail Information, Photos, Artwork and Facts"

Quail Forever, "Quail Facts"

Christopher Robinson, 10 Quail Hunting Tips. Jan 27, 2011