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Quail hunting in Utah could be fast in some areas

For those who are looking for some fast upland game hunting this fall, consider pursuing California quail in Duchesne and possibly Millard counties. California quail populations in both counties are doing great this year.

There's also plenty of Gambel's quail available to hunters in many areas in southern Utah.

Hunting for pheasants should be poor to fair in Utah this fall, and sharp-tailed grouse hunting should be good for the 278 hunters who obtained a permit.

All of these upland game hunts start Nov. 4.

Dean Mitchell, upland game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, provides the following preview for each hunt

There are two species of quail found in Utah.

The Gambel's quail is native to southern Utah and is found mostly in the Mojave Desert habitats in Washington County.

The California quail is an introduced game bird. California quail populations are scattered throughout Utah, with the main concentrations found within urban areas along the Wasatch Front, east into the Uintah Basin and southeast into the Carbon and Emery county areas.

For those hunting next to an urban area, it is strongly encouraged to contact local authorities to learn what regulations those areas have regarding the discharge of firearms.

California quail populations appear to have increased somewhat over last year in some areas. Recent and ongoing transplants of California quail from the Wasatch Front to suitable habitats in outlying areas is the reason hunters are seeing quail in new places in Utah. Duchesne, Sevier and Uintah counties are traditionally the best areas to hunt.

Here's what to expect in each of the DWR's five regions:

•Northern Region. Urban populations.

•Central Region. The quail population is similar to last year. Most of the quail habitat in the Central Region is along the Wasatch Front where hunting is very limited, if not restricted altogether. Caution should be used when hunting in the foothills above housing areas, taking note where city limit boundaries are to avoid illegal shooting.

•Northeastern Region Excellent hunting is expected in Duchesne County. The extended opportunity to hunt quail in the Uintah Basin through December has provided some good recreational opportunity for hunters.

•Southeastern Region. There are a few small quail populations in the region. Production seems to be improved this year, but hunting will be spotty.

•Southern Region. California quail provide only limited hunting in localized areas. 2006 brood counts within the Millard County area are as high as ever, though. Hunting should be good in areas where quail can be safely pursued.

Gambel's quail in Kane County are found in the Kanab area where the population seems to be increasing. Many of these quail tend to live within city limits and cannot be hunted. However, with some scouting, you can locate birds in areas where you can hunt them. As always, make sure you obtain written permission before hunting on private lands.

Although the number of Gambel's quail observed during water hole counts in Washington County decreased this year, production appears to be good and quail are plentiful.

Despite the fact that thousands of acres of quail habitat was destroyed by wildfires this summer, success is expected to be good in the desert areas west of St. George.

There's more water for the birds this year, and quail may be distributed over a larger area. Hunters should concentrate their efforts along dry washes. Calling can be an effective way to locate coveys of birds.

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