QUAIL SEASON OUTLOOK
By Dana Wright, TPWD Wildlife Biologist
Expectations are high for the 2017-18 Quail Season here in the Rolling Plains after the historic 2016 Season where record numbers of quail could be found. However, this year’s Texas Parks & Wildlife Departments Roadside Quail Counts showed about half as many birds observed per 20-mile route compared to the 2016 surveys, but we still saw more birds than the long term average. TPWD projections are based on annual statewide quail surveys that were initiated in 1978 to monitor quail populations. This index uses randomly selected, 20-mile roadside survey lines to determine annual quail population trends by ecological region. This trend information helps determine relative quail populations among the regions of Texas. We had a good carryover of birds going into the 2017 breeding season, but a dryer summer (May, June & July), probably hurt chick survival. Most people were observing smaller brood sizes, instead of seeing 15-18 in a brood it was more common to see 6-8 chicks in a brood.
Hunting should still be good in areas with good habitat. Matthew Cruse, TPWD Game Warden, reported seeing week-old bobwhite chicks in Motley County this month, so it looks like we might have had a few birds attempt a late hatch. Fall conditions have been good with some timely rainfall, this will help keep habitat conditions good and favor some cool season forage growth, which will help carryover birds into next year.
Quail Season opens Saturday, October 28 and will close February 25.