Oklahoma Hunters Enjoy Upswing in Quail Populations
This summer’s weather has for the most part been favorable for quail reproduction, and reports from landowners and biologists in the field indicate that quail populations are improving across the state from a near record low population in 2007.
According to biologists, the quail population in Oklahoma appears to be in recovery mode from drought conditions in 2006, and some hunters and guides that have spent time in the field agree.
Reports from hunters range from sightings of three to seven coveys a day on public land to even more on some private lands. Additionally, good numbers of birds per covey have been reported.
Quail hunting guide Gordon Thomas, who operates the Washita Hunting Camp in Roger Mills Co., said his groups of hunters have typically been finding about eight coveys a day. He said hunting this season has been better than expected and expects it to get even better with increased moisture to help scenting conditions for dogs.
“The birds have made a remarkable comeback in two years,” Thomas said.
Thomas said hunters with his outfit have harvested 160 birds so far this season.
Weekend hunters also have positive reports from the field. Brandon Cary, Yukon, hunted over Thanksgiving near his hometown of Hollis, and while his group found about six coveys in several hours of hunting over the course of two mornings, they noted high numbers of birds per covey.
Wade Free, northwest region wildlife supervisor for the Wildlife Department and avid quail hunter, said quail hunting activity usually dies down somewhat around deer gun season and then picks up strong again afterward, but that those sportsmen who spent time chasing quail early in the season reported good success.
Free said windy dry conditions typical of November may have slowed dog work so far this season, but that better hunting weather often common later in the season could benefit hunters.
Free said that, along with good numbers of quail, this year hunters may run into exceptionally high crops of sandburs in typical quail hunting habitat, and he advises that hunters pack along a set dog boots in case sandbur conditions become a hindrance for working dogs.
Quail season opened Nov. 8 and runs through Feb. 15. The daily limit is 10 birds, with no more than 20 in possession after the first day.
Quail hunting is popular in Oklahoma for several reasons, among them the lengthy season and opportunities to hunt with family and friends while enjoying plenty of wingshooting at the same time. Additionally, only a hunting license and fishing and hunting legacy permit is needed to go afield.
To learn more about quail hunting in Oklahoma, or to purchase a hunting license, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.