“Our added winter moisture and active calling period led to a very long nesting and hatching season, starting in late April and extending into early summer, with chicks hatching as late as early July,” O’Dell said. “From a population standpoint, we are out of a deficit for the first time since 2001-2002. Quail are starting to pop up in places they haven’t been seen in a while.
“If you’ve never had the chance to experience what Arizona quail hunting built its name on, then this would be the year to get out and enjoy it.”
Meanwhile, hunters should note that the season for Mearns’ quail doesn’t begin until Dec. 4. It’s summer rainfall that plays a key role in nesting success and population numbers of this species. After a spotty and relatively weak monsoon across southern Arizona, these birds are likely to be abundant only in pockets that received sufficient precipitation this summer.
A valid Arizona hunting or combination hunt and fish license is required for all hunters 10 and older. Those hunters under 10 must either have a valid hunting or combination hunt and fish license, or be accompanied by an adult who possesses a valid hunting or combination hunt and fish license. Licenses can be purchased online or at license dealers statewide. A youth combination hunt and fish license (ages 10 to 17) is $5.
The general bag limit is 15 quail per day in the aggregate, of which no more than eight may be Mearns’ quail (when the Mearns’ season opens Dec. 4). The general possession limit is 45 quail in the aggregate after opening day, of which no more than 15 Gambel’s, scaled or California quail in the aggregate may be taken in any one day. After the opening of the Mearns’ season, the 45-quail possession limit may include 24 Mearns’ quail, of which no more than eight may be taken in any one day.
More quail-hunting information can be found on the department’s website at https://www.azgfd.com/Hunting/. Another resource for both new and experienced hunters alike is “An Introduction to Hunting Arizona’s Small Game.” Written by Randall D. Babb, the 196-page, full-color book covers where and how to hunt small game birds (like quail), squirrels, rabbits, ducks and geese. It also includes how to prepare and cook your harvest, with illustrations and recipes. The book can be ordered for $16.95 at www.azgfd.gov/publications.
Publishers Notes: OUT OF STATE HUNTERS, FISHERMEN & OUTDOOR ENTHUSIASTS; Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, there could be limitations for OUT of STATE hunters, fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts to include a 14-day quarantine requirement or negative COVID-19 testing alternative. Please check with the State's Department of Natural Resources BEFORE you travel or apply for the 2020 Fall Hunts.
Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are that of the authors and not necessarily that of TBC Press
Wyoming Sage Grouse Reproduction Holds Steady in 2020
Submitted by: TBC Press
Posted on: 02/17/21
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Thirty-eight percent of the world’s sage grouse inhabit Wyoming and the state supports over 1,800 known, occupied leks. Wyoming is a sage grouse stronghold, Schreiber notes, and numbers remain high enough to support hunting the bird.
“Hunting is an important component of sage grouse management in Wyoming and has not shown to have a negative impact on the population,” Schreiber said. “We appreciate hunters dropping off wings for our data collection.”
Good moisture in the spring and summer and quality habitat are the top two contributing factors of chick survival that ultimately raises populations. More moisture means chicks can nosh on a variety of high-protein insects in their first month of life with adequate habitat cover. As the bird grows, grass and forbs —like wildflowers—become another important food source. Older birds rely almost exclusively on sagebrush in their diet.
“Sage grouse are a sagebrush obligate species and could not survive without it,” Schreiber said.
Sage grouse are known for the natural rises and falls in reproductive trends, documented back nearly six decades. The cycles last six to eight years, studies suggest. State wildlife officials monitor the cyclically data closely. Currently, there is an adaptive management plan in place to respond if population numbers trigger a response. Those triggers are detailed in Wyoming Gov. Gordon’s Sage Grouse Executive Order.
A full analysis for 2020 bird populations will be available in the sage grouse job completion report, posted on the Game and Fish website in the spring.
Publishers Notes: Our country is still battling COVID-19. To avoid the spread of this virus and continue to enjoy outdoor activities, ALL outdoor enthusiasts (man, woman, child) should follow the guidelines set by nps.gov. These guidelines include; social distancing, the Leave No Trace principles, including pack-in and pack-out, to keep outdoor spaces safe and healthy. Wyoming sage grouse reproduction held steady in 2020 based on preliminary data from the wings of harvested chick and hen sage grouse. The wings are collected from hunters—primarily in central and southwest Wyoming—who voluntarily contribute sage grouse wings by dropping them off at designated collection points during the hunting season.
Hunters deposited wings from 980 chicks and 874 hens in collection barrels. Wyoming’s chick-to-hen ratio mirrored 2019 numbers at 1.1 chicks/hen. Male lek attendance barely budged, dropping by a meager 1.5% in spring 2020 observations.
“It appears Wyoming’s sage grouse populations are flattening out at the trough of the cycle,” said Wyoming Game and Fish Department sage grouse/sagebrush biologist Leslie Schreiber. “A growing population needs at least 1.5 chicks/hen.”