AUSTIN — Quail season opens in Texas on Oct. 31 and while the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) surveys have returned relatively low quail numbers in comparison to previous years, hunters hitting the field this season will see more favorable conditions in certain portions of the state.
“Texas quail live on the edge of feast or famine,” said Robert Perez, the Upland Game Bird Program Leader for TPWD. “Because Texas is such a large state, quail in one area of the state can be plentiful while quail in an area nearby may be difficult to locate. The population density of quail in February, along with the amount and timing of rainfall received throughout the year, and the amount of suitable habitat for the birds through time and space are the three key factors driving quail populations.”
Overall, the South Texas Plains and Rolling Plains ecoregions of Texas host the highest populations of bobwhite quail.
Despite below average roadside count numbers, South Texas is showing the most promise to buck statewide predictions. Reports from the Coastal Sand Plain, including Kleberg, Kennedy and Brooks Counties, are encouraging in terms of range conditions, bobwhite activity and reportedly had good chick production. Additionally, reports from Hebbronville and Brooks counties suggest summer and hurricane rainfall buoyed quail populations.
The average number of bobwhites seen per survey route was 3.8 compared to 13.8 last year. The Chaparral and Daughtrey Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) provide public quail hunting opportunities and TPWD biologists suggest scouting, as well as contacting WMAs, to improve chances for a successful season.
The Rolling Plains ecoregion experienced favorable weather conditions from late winter through early spring. Area TPWD staff reported frequent bobwhite calling activity early in the year but observed relatively few broods. By mid-summer, temperatures were consistently over 100 degrees, drought