The 2015 desert quail boom materialized, as projected, as a spectacular year for quail hunters in New Mexico. As such, anticipation was high for back-to-back bumper crops of Gambel’s, scaled, and Mearns’ quail. The weather didn’t exactly cooperate.
“The first half of 2016 has been dry, particularly in the western half of the state,” said Casey Cardinal, New Mexico Game & Fish. “We came into the spring with good numbers of scaled quail and northern bobwhite pairs in the southeast. Montezuma [a.k.a. Mearns’] quail numbers were also up this spring after a good reproduction year in 2015. Continued dry conditions might limit food resources, and this could reduce brood production and survival. Coming off of an exceptional 2015-16 hunting season, I’m expecting more of an average hunting season. Nonetheless, we should have some good opportunities across the state with above-average hunting in the Southeast corner.”
Oregon’s quail numbers bounced back last year and, according to Budeau, could spike again this year due to the good conditions. Likewise, quail numbers in Nevada are expected to be good in areas of suitable habitat.
In Arizona, last year’s rainfall resulted in an increase in quail populations but the pre-season forecast was still below the 10-year average. We will have information on this year’s Arizona quail forecast at the time of the September online update. And, of course, scaled quail skyrocketed in west Texas last year and appear poised for more of the same this year. “Time to break out the brush pants,” joked Perez.