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18
Quail season outlook bright for hunters, not birds


10/15/04
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Hunters have had little reason to anticipate the opening of quail season for the past five years, but Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists predict that will change this fall. Although dove populations have fallen due to disease over the past two years, quail populations — which are strongly tied to spring rains — have boomed in the areas around Kingman, Arizona. “This should be the best quail season hunters have seen in recent memory,” Johnny Wills, a biologist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, said. “The northern Arizona region has seen solid growth in the quail population.” Wills suggested hunters visit the mountain ranges around Kingman, including the Cerbat, Black, Peacock and Hualapai mountains. Washes at the lower elevations should provide the best opportunities for hunters, he said. “They’re (quail) usually near a water source,” Wills explained. “Not always, but those areas near watering tanks and permanent water sources usually produce the best success rates.” The population growth of quail in the area is a change from recent history. The small game bird has struggled throughout the worst years of the drought. The quail are dependent on winter and spring precipitation for production of both plant foods and insects. Of particular importance to quail chicks are insects, which comprise the bulk of their diets for the first six weeks. When winter and spring rains fail to produce the necessary food, quail reproduction rates are low. “It’s been good to see an improvement in the quail population,” Wills said. “Large coveys can be seen throughout the area.” The four-month quail seasons runs from October 8, 2004, through February 7, 2005. Hunting licenses can be purchased at any of the six Arizona Game and Fish regional offices, or at the department’s headquarters in Phoenix.


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