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News Articles

01
Outlook is good for upcoming quail season

10-31-04

"You never really know till opening morning," said Gordon Thomas.

Maybe not, but Thomas says he is very optimistic about the upcoming quail season. Thomas operates the Washita Hunting Camp near Reydon and annually hosts hunters from as far away as Florida and Alabama.

"With all the rain and vegetation we have this year, it has been a little difficult to see them throughout the summer, but that is a good thing. When we have a relatively wet summer, it seems like we usually have a good quail year," Thomas said. "I'm really looking forward to opening day."

While the consensus from the field is that this year's bird crop will be good, annual surveys conducted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation show a statewide decrease of eight percent compared to the previous 14-year average.

"We have been getting good reports from both landowners and biologists. However, the cool wet summer has allowed the quail to really spread out instead of being forced to the roadside bar ditches where they can be spotted by survey participants more readily," said Mike Sams, upland game bird biologist for the Department

The survey decrease is reflected in all regions with the exception of the Northwest and Southeast regions, which reported increases over the average of 26 percent and 49 percent respectively. All other regions reported numbers lower than the 13-year average. In fact, the statewide 2004 index decreased 20 percent over 2003.

According to Sams, quail populations in the Southeast region seem to be responding favorably to timber harvest practices. Both biologists and sportsmen have reported seeing a number of quail in the clear cuts and young pine plantations on the Honobia and Three Rivers wildlife management areas.

"Overall, I think the outlook for the quail season is good. We had good weather conditions throughout the spring and fall and as always, we are hoping for favorable weather during the hunting season," Sams said.

Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation biologists have conducted the roadside surveys during both August and October for the past 15 years. The surveys, which consist of 20-mile routes, give biologists an estimate of quail abundance.

Observers count the number of quail seen to provide an index of quail abundance and reproductive success. There are 83 routes with at least one route in every county except for Tulsa and Oklahoma counties.

Running Nov. 13 through Feb.15, quail season is much anticipated both by Oklahomans and non-residents. Oklahoma regularly ranks among the top three quail hunting states in terms of both quail populations and hunter success, and Oklahoma promises to be a major destination for bird hunters again this year.

For more information about quail hunting and to see the complete survey, log onto wildlifedepartment.com.

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