Scouting Around
Arizona — Exceptional Mearns' Quail Year Expected

The outlook was exceptional for the Mearns' quail season opener November 17.

Biologists with the Arizona Game and Fish Department advised that the Mearns' quail season in 1999-2000 was better than average, thanks to good summer rains in southeastern Arizona. When coupled with very good summer rains this year, Mearns' reproduction has been terrific.

Tucson regional game specialist Ron Olding explained that Mearns' quail reproduction is keyed to good summer rainfall. "After several seasons of average-to-above average summer rainfall, and excellent rainfall last summer, the season prognosis for Mearns' this year is exceptional."

Olding added that another key for Mearns' is having good grass cover, as well as an abundance of food and reasonable oak or other tree cover. "The area I expect to be the best is the oak-grassland country from Patagonia to Sierra Vista and south to the Mexican border," he predicted.

Wildlife manager Kurt Bahti advised that he has seen very good Mearns' coveys with lots of young of the year. "There are enough birds that if a hunter without a dog wants to go after Mearns', he or she can walk the canyon bottoms in the morning, slowly working up the side slopes in late morning, and have a reasonable chance of running into Mearns'," Bahti said.

Bahti added that the Mearns' population has increased enough that these tight-holding birds will be found on the edges of their normal habitat. "I suspect that hunters going after Gambel's quail in southern Arizona will run into Mearns' as well."

Bahti recommends that Mearns' hunters concentrate on the open oak grassland habitats in Hunt Units 34A, 35 A&B, and 36B. Smaller numbers can
also be found in the west side of Unit 34B and in some areas of the Baboquivari Mountains. "Look for Mearns' scratchings in the canyon bottoms and spread out from there. The scratchings are easy to spot and very definitive," Bahti said.

John Phelps, a Game and Fish biologist who is also an avid quail hunter, said the Mearns' quail hunt in Arizona is as unique an opportunity as hunting prairie chickens in Kansas, chukar in Nevada, or ptarmigan in Alaska. "For a hunter to live in Arizona and never hunt Mearns' is the equivalent of an Arizona hiker not hiking the Grand Canyon," Phelps said.

Idaho — Don't Shoot Swans

With flights of waterfowl from the north country due anytime now, hunters are reminded to be careful about swans.

If it's bigger than a snow goose, has no black wingtips like a snow goose does, it's a swan. Shooting swans is illegal in Idaho and the result can be a sizeable fine and possible loss of hunting privileges.

Two kinds of swans are seen in Idaho: tundra swans (previously called whistling swans) and the much larger trumpeter swans. Trumpeter swans are not as common, except in some parts of eastern Idaho where they reside year round. Both kinds of swans travel in large V formations and use the same areas as other waterfowl, including snow geese.

Snow geese all have pronounced black wingtips.

Arizona — Gould's Turkey Meetings

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has scheduled public meetings in Sierra Vista and Tucson to gather input on the future management of Gould's turkeys in southeastern Arizona.

The Department will specially address the possibility of hunting the Huachuca Mountain population and using it as a source for translocations to other mountain ranges in southeastern Arizona.

The Sierra Vista meeting is scheduled from 7-9 p.m., November 28 at the Coronado Elementary School, 4158 School Drive. The school is located east on Ramsey Road from Highway 92, north on Moson Road, then west on Thuma Road to the school.

The Tucson meeting is scheduled from 7-9 p.m., November 30 at the International Wildlife Museum, 4800 W. Gates Pass Road. The museum is located approximately five miles west on Speedway from I-10.

For more information, contact Jim Heffelfinger, Tucson regional game specialist, at or (520) 628-5376, extension 152.

California — Wildlife Conservation Board Action

The California Wildlife Conservation Board took the following action at its regularly scheduled November 2 meeting.

Wetland Conservation Easement Program and Restoration (Orme and Hughes), Butte County, ($1.375 million)

Approved the acquisition of two wetland conservation easements over two separate ownerships consisting of 677+ acres combined, and approved a grant to Ducks Unlimited, Inc., to restore each property to wetlands and associated upland nesting habitat. The properties are located approximately 12 miles westerly of Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, within 9 miles of Oroville Wildlife Area and approximately 15 miles north of Marysville. The properties are currently used for farming and, during waterfowl season, as private duck clubs.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area, Expansions 12 and 13, Riverside County, ($2.6 million)

Acquired two separate properties consisting of approximately 362 acres of vacant land as a further expansion of the Department of Fish and Game's (DFG) San Jacinto Wildlife Area in western Riverside County. The acquisition will allow for further protection of Mystic Lake and its associated upland habitat for the numerous sensitive plants associated with the lake and the over 240 bird species that have been recorded using the Mystic Lake area. The project area is located in the San Jacinto Valley, approximately 18 miles southeast of downtown Riverside and just north of the community of Lakeview.

Oregon — Access and Habitat Program

Created by the Oregon Legislature in 1993, the A&H Program is funded by a $2 surcharge on hunting licenses. Funds raised by the program are distributed in the form of grants awarded to individual and corporate landowners, conservation organizations, and others, to cooperatively fund wildlife habitat improvement and hunter access projects throughout the state.

For more information on the Access and Habitat Program, contact program coordinator Matt Buhler at (503) 872-5260, extension 5349.

Idaho — Question

When do next year's licenses become available?

December 1, resident and nonresident licenses will be available, as well as nonresident general-season tags.

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