Gambel's Quail Photo Courtesy Lynn Chamberlain
If you’ve ever thought about hunting quail in Utah, this fall might be the time to give it a try.
California quail and Gamble’s quail populations have done well in Utah the past few years. And they appear to be doing even better this year.
Hunts for both species of quail start Nov. 6. Utah’s ring-necked pheasant hunt starts the same day.
Despite a continuing loss of habitat, more upland game hunters—about 15,000—pursue pheasants than any other upland game species in Utah.
Hunters who take to the state’s farm fields and other areas that have good pheasant habitat should find fair to good numbers of birds this fall. “Nesting conditions were good for pheasants this past spring,” says Dave Olsen, upland game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.
Olsen says counties along the Wasatch Front and Millard County in west-central Utah provide some of Utah’s best pheasant habitat. This habitat includes river bottoms, marshes and thickets near farm fields.
Olsen says many of these areas are privately owned or are close to private property. “Don’t wait until the last minute to approach a landowner about getting written permission to hunt his or her property,” he says. “Try to get this permission way in advance of the hunt.”
You must have written permission to hunt private land that’s properly posted. More information is available on page 13 of the 2010 - 2011 Utah Upland Game Guidebook.
The guidebook is available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks .
California quail are found mostly in brushy thickets near the edge of fields and farms in northern, central and northeastern Utah.
These areas are usually found in urban settings. Because they’re usually found in urban areas, it’s important that you obey the law and that you’re careful where you shoot. And remember that you must have written permission to hunt on private land.
Gambel’s quail are found in southwestern Utah, mostly in the Mohave Desert near the Nevada and Arizona borders in Washington and Kane counties.
Olsen says Gambel's quail populations and the amount of rain that falls in the spring go hand-in-hand; if plenty of rain is received, plenty of quail are usually available in the fall. And southwestern Utah received plenty of rain this past spring. “Those who know where to find quail should have a fun hunt,” Olsen says.
The best places to find Gambel’s quail include draws that are near water and that have almond and other types of brush in them.
When you find quail, get ready for some fast shooting. The birds could be together in small groups or in a covey of as many as a dozen quail. The action happens fast when the birds flush. Usually, the entire covey flushes at once. But sometimes smaller groups of birds will flush—two or three birds at a time—after the main covey has flushed.
“Shooting can be fast and furious,” Olsen says. “When you’re done, you’ll either be picking up a bird or two or waving goodbye to the birds you missed.”
Olsen says chukar partridge populations are also doing well in the Mohave Desert this fall, so you might find some chukars there too.
For more information, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR’s Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.