Hunting Bobwhite Quail On The Prairies
Bobwhite Quail hunting has traditionally been a sport practiced along fencerows and creek bottoms. Those spots are still productive but more and more hunters are discovering quail hunting in native grasses and prairies is the way to go. However, hunting big, wide grasslands is a far different game than hunting narrow strips of cover.
Grasslands offer bobwhite quail everything they need to survive so it’s no surprise these birds are using prairie habitat. Instead of being relegated to small strips of protection, grassland fields offer food, shelter from the elements, and cover from predators. Predators being nest thieves like raccoons and coyotes… and of course, hunters. There is typically more bobwhite quail in a 200 acre prairie than 200 acres of fencerow cover, but it is more difficult to hunt those 200 acres of prairie. It’s tougher walking and the bobwhite quail have the advantage. You’re on their home turf. There are a few ways to tip the odds in your favor.
The More, The Merrier
Don’t hog the hunting to yourself. Quail hunting can be a very social activity and having extra hunters in your party increases the odds of success. You’ll be able to cover more ground with more hunters and dogs.
Don’t Be A Grass Snob
When hunters approach the typical prairie, they often hunt the thickest cover they see. This is often a good strategy since logic would tell you that thick cover equates to more birds. But this isn’t always the case. Depending on where the food is, bobwhites will often be in the short grass. If land managers use cattle grazing as a tool, grazed areas can be magnets to quail.
Hunters will walk past more quail than they will see during many hunts. Quail spend their entire lives on the ground and are skilled at avoiding hunters and other predators without flushing. Some will hold tight in cover and others will move away from the sounds of dogs and hunters. If you’re in good quail country, work fields a second time from an opposite angle. The second pass often yields more birds than the first.
Don’t be afraid to work the interior sections of big grasslands. Casual hunters usually hunt the fencerows early in the season. This pushes a lot of birds into the middle sections of prairie grasslands. After the season is in full swing, quail will stay where pressure is lightest. This is especially true if food sources are good.
Hunting bobwhite quail in prairie grassland is a little more work than hunting agricultural fencerows and draws. But like anything else, hard work has it’s benefits.