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HUNTING: Quail, dove forecast indicates banner year

Tucson Citizen

GARY GAYNOR/Tucson Citizen

Gambel's quail
Wildlife experts say the quail and dove outlooks for central Arizona are decent this year, which should translate into the state's best bird-hunting seasons in recent history.
"There's still a lot that can happen between now and when the quail or dove seasons open Oct. 8, and Sept. 1, respectively, but right now, we're looking pretty good in the central part of the state," said Mike Rabe, an Arizona Game & Fish Department biologist.

"Personally," said Rabe, who is a devout bird hunter, "I am planning to buy new reloading equipment. I expect to go out twice as much as I did last year. I think it will be worth it."

The central part of the state received soaking rain for several days at a time during key periods of late winter and early spring. Some areas of southern Arizona also received good rainfall and are providing decent quail habitat conditions.

"The Tonto Basin and even the Verde Valley have been looking green and lush this year," Rabe said.

"The seed and insect production have been terrific, which should translate into good numbers of Gambel's quail and mourning doves.

"Start looking now for places with good seed production and decent quail broods. Places with good habitat and quail now should still be holding birds in the fall.

Rabe added that all the ingredients are there for good mourning dove reproduction.

"We should see better dove hunting this year than we have seen for a couple of years," he said.

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