Arizona Quail
Triple Treat Expected

by Rory Aikens
Arizona Game and Fish

This is shaping up to be the year for a quail triple treat in southeastern Arizona, and fairly good quail hunting throughout much of the state for Gambel's, said Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists.

Record winter and good spring precipitation, followed by early summer rains, has created good to excellent conditions for Gambel's, scaled and Mearns' quail reproduction in southeastern Arizona. Significant rains this past week in many areas have bolstered that outlook.

Small game supervisor Ron Engel-Wilson explained that Gambel's quail reproduction is directly related to winter and spring rainfall. Arizona experienced record winter and good spring precipitation, making the statewide outlook for Gambel's good.

Randy Babb, Region VI information and education program manager, said he originally thought the best anyone could expect would be an average year for Gambel's.

"At present, the birds seem to be making me a liar. I have seen broods as high as 22 and as low as five or so. There seems to be a constant parade of young birds since early spring. Every time I think they are done, I see more bumblebee-sized quail. If nothing cataclysmic happens, we are in for a good Gambel's year," Babb observed.

Scaled quail reproduction is more dependent on spring and early summer rainfall. Mearn's quail reproduction is keyed to summer rainfall. Both Mearns' and scaled quail are found in southeastern Arizona. The good spring and summer rainfall in that area has set the stage for good reproduction for those two species as well.

"So far it is looking like Gambel's reproduction in southern Arizona is very good to excellent, but we started with a pretty low base population," explained Ron Olding, Tucson regional wildlife program manager.

Call counts were high this spring and brood sizes have been good to exceptional. "I still believe that we will have at least an average to slightly above average year due to the abundant juveniles available to bag."

Summer rains started early in southern Arizona, but until this past week were a little below average. "In this past week, some areas received their typical summer rainfall amounts — all in two-days' time. Many areas have greened up nicely this summer. The area from Sierra Vista to Nogales is lush and green with knee-high grass. I'm highly optimistic it could be good for Mearns' and much improved for Gambel's and scaled, making it a pretty good year for all three," Olding predicted.

Babb, who is a dedicated quail hunter, also predicts a good year for all three species. "This will be the first year in a long time where hunters can expect good numbers of all three of our huntable quail species. Incredible as it may seem, Mearns' could actually be better than last year in many areas."

Quail Season Information

Open Dates: October 12 for Gambel's Scaled and California Quail, November 23 for Mearns'
Bag Limit : 15 quail per day
Possession Limit : 30 quail after opening day of which no more than 15 may be taken in any one day.

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