If you're seeking some of the best quail hunting there is, try any of these five states.
Quail hunting is not only one of the most fun hunting opportunities out there, it is a tradition like no other and a great match of skills between a hunter and his gun dog.
It is estimated that over one million American hunters go quail hunting at some point each year, and since all quail hunters are on the lookout for the best spots for the hunt, we wanted to help support those efforts.
As with any list, determining the best quail hunting states might start an argument, but that's part of the fun of making such a record.
Quail might not be as numerous as they were in the past, but hunters still have some great access to public lands that carry these diminutive, difficult to shoot birds.
Hunting quail may require more planning now than it did in the past, but with the advent of wildlife management areas that are designed specifically to increase quail populations, the goal of the regulations is one meant to maintain populations so future generations have the opportunity to enjoy chasing them as well.
Any time you set out to hunt in Idaho it is imperative to understand that this is a rugged state to hunt for any species, and that definitely includes quail. Amongst the mountainous regions hugged tight to the canyons with 30-40 degree inclines, a quail hunter can had better have some great hunting boots and the stamina to go along with them.
Depending on the season, it can range from blazing hot to below freezing and you best be ready for both. With all that in mind, it is a fact that it is well worth it in the Gem State. Hunters there have some of the best populations of quail, particularly California quail, in the nation.
Maybe the best thing about quail hunting here is that almost 70 percent of hunting lands are public in Idaho. The state also operates a program called AccessYes! which, as their website says, "is a program designed to improve access to private land or through private land to public land by compensating willing landowners who provide access," and "Nearly 1 million acres! In 2019, Access Yes! opened 328,066 acres of private land and provided access to 525,115 acres of public land for hunters and anglers."
Here is one state program whose time has come. Just imagine every state having a similar hunting access strategy like this!
According to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the current season runs from Sept. 19, 2020 to Jan. 31, 2021 and is already listed as having the same season dates for the upcoming year as well.
Arizona is another state that has a high quantity of public hunting lands with nearly 60 percent of all accessible grounds being public domain. Public lands in the state offer hunters the opportunity to hunt several species including the scaled quail, Gambel's quail, California quail, and the Mearns quail.
Arizona not only offers some great quail hunting, but in the colder months when hunting can be much more difficult, Arizona's terrain and climate can make for a winter hunt that will be a little easier on your body and your gear.
Lush, mountainous regions, grassland and savannah areas, rocky desert and mesquite-lined washes, plus a mixture of all of these depending on the area, can offer hunters a quality quail hunting opportunity that most other states just can't compare to.
As an additional note, the endangered masked bobwhite quail exists in Arizona, but it cannot be a part of any hunter's bag limit.
Missouri is another state that has an exceptional amount of public hunting land. Large wildlife management areas, or reserves, are designated with "quail emphasis" locations and offer multiple points of entry, full-size parking lots, and easy terrain suitable for hunters of all ages.
In Dent County alone, hunters have access to 2,000 acres of reconditioned forest and other cover that is designated as walk-in only. Even at that, these gently rolling hills and open grasslands are cultivated in mind to provide vegetation which produces a strong habitat for quail and a terrain that is more than hospitable to walking hunters.
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, quail hunting in the state runs from Nov. 1, 2020 to Jan. 15, 2021. The daily bag limit is eight birds per hunter.
With nearly 46,000 acres in west-central Kentucky comprised of salvaged and obsolete strip mines, the reclaimed land has provided a vast amount of grassy, open habitat suitable for supporting quail populations and the hunters that chase them.
In 2008, the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources reserved 23,000 acres of this land as a Quail Focus Area to ensure a concentrated habitat organization which has served to enhance and enrich the habitat for bobwhite quail. Most of this region has a mildly sloping and grassy terrain, which contrasts with the eastern region of the state, which is forested and mountainous.
According to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, the season dates for quail run from Nov. 1 to Nov. 13, 2020 in the eastern zone with a season in the western zone from Nov. 16, 2020 to Feb. 10, 2021. Check the latest information to ensure you've got the right season dates in subsequent years.
The KDFWR states that "Native grasses that allow the birds to search for food within the grassy cover are ideal cover plants for quail. These grasses can be identified easily. If you can see barren soil between tall clumps of grass, that is good quail cover. If it is a mat of grass on the soil, the birds can not move easily through the grass and food is more difficult to find."
That's excellent advice for hunting these diminutive but hardy birds that are as good to eat as they are to chase.
Kansas Parks Wildlife and Tourism says, "Kansas boasts some of the best upland bird populations in the world. In fact, the largest concentrations of both lesser and greater prairie chickens are found in Kansas. Bobwhite quail still thrive throughout much of the state, and in the far southwest corner, scaled quail can be found."
One of the top draws for Kansas is the bobwhite quail, and Kansas almost always ranks within the top three states in quail harvest in the nation. The southeast region of the state is usually the top quail producing area, with the northeast generally running a close second.
The large public lands in Kansas have dense quail populations dispersed throughout the state with a substantial walk-in hunting program, which also encompasses more than one million acres of private lands that the state leases to the public for use in quail hunting.
Quail and ring-necked pheasant both have the same statewide season in Kansas from Nov. 14, 2020 to Jan. 31, 2021 with a bag limit of eight birds per hunter.
The Final Word
Honorable mention goes to Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Florida, Western Oklahoma, Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota, which all have good quality quail hunting opportunities. Many of these states provide solid upland game pheasant hunting right alongside quail seasons that simply overlap.
If wild bobwhite quail are what you're after, make sure to check the local and state regulations as they are not always available to hunt in every state.
In recent years, quail habitat management has come to be one of the top priorities for states with viable populations of quail, putting the birds at the forefront of wildlife managers and upland hunters everywhere. When you're ready for the hunting experience of a lifetime, these are the places to zoom in on.
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