SAN ANTONIO – Texas wildlife is still feeling the effects of the drought, and that will likely affect hunters this fall season, according to biologists.
Texas Parks and Wildlife says that the forecast for quail hunting remains “uncertain” ahead of the season, which starts on Oct. 29, because conditions vary throughout the state.
This year, the habitat conditions for quail declined going into August because of the drought, and bobwhites were mainly “few and far between,” TPWD says.
TPWD says statewide rainfall over the past two months could improve habitats and nesting for the late season. However, it’s too early to tell how the broods will fair after then.
“The lone bright spot again this year was the South Texas Plains, the only bobwhite region in the state to see an increase in recorded abundance,” John McLaughlin, Upland Game Bird Program Leader for TPWD, said in a news release. “With a grain of salt, the number of bobwhites observed per route was up from 3.1 to 5.3, but still below the 15-year mean of 9.0. These numbers will provide some comfort to Texas hunters, but the statewide outlook, including the Rolling Plains, again points to tough sledding in 2022.”
TPWD says the Trans-Pecos region will likely see good quail hunting conditions due to timely rainfall.
In other areas, quail hunting may be a challenge due to a combination of low population, minimal rainfall and poor habitat conditions.
“The foundation on which these populations are built are habitat and annual rainfall, and there are two storylines for scaled quail in 2022: the Trans-Pecos, and everywhere else,” McLaughlin said. “The Trans-Pecos continues to be our top-producing ecoregion for blue quail and will be one of the few places in the state with room for optimism this hunting season. The benefactor of widely dispersed habitat and timely rainfall this year, the outlook for far West Texas is more promising.”
The daily bag limit for bobwhite quail, scaled quail (blue quail) and Gambel’s quail is 15 birds. There is no open season for mearn’s (Montezuma) quail.
The season ends on Feb. 26.