Quail hunters in Arizona spend the majority of their time pursuing three species of quail, Gambel’s, scaled or Mearns’. A fourth, the California quail, receives little hunting pressure and is found along the Little Colorado River drainage near Springerville. The masked bobwhite, a fifth species, is federally listed as an endangered species, and if still persisting in the wild, is found only on the Buenas Aires Refuge southwest of Tucson.
The sexes of all Arizona quails show some differences in plumage, and all of the species form seasonal pair bonds that last through incubation and brood-raising. Clutch and brood sizes are often large, ranging up to a dozen or more chicks, and both the cock and the hen care for the young. Quail populations are dependant on seasonal rainfall and may fluctuate greatly from year to year. Gambel’s and scaled quail form fall and winter coveys that are likely to remain in the same general area where they were raised.
Each species has its own habitat preferences. The Gambel’s quail is found throughout the Sonoran and Mojave deserts upward in elevation through semidesert grassland and chaparral to the edges of pinyon-juniper woodland and pine forest. The scaled quail is a bird of semidesert grasslands and the Chihuahuan desert, preferring open plains and foothills; the Mearns’ quail prefers oak woodlands and oak savannas in the southeastern portions of the state where grass cover is abundant enough to conceal its presence.
In 1909, the territorial legislature limited quail hunting to an open season of October 16 through January 31, an arrangement that was retained in the state game code of 1912 along with a bag limit of 25 quail. In 1929 quail numbers must have been thought to be in need of improvement, as the season was shortened to November 1 through December 31, and the following year the newly appointed Arizona Game and Fish Commission reduced the bag limit to 15 quail per day. There was no season on Mearns’ or “fool quail” as this species was commonly known.
To conserve Arizona’s diverse wildlife resources and manage for safe, compatible outdoor recreation opportunities for current and future generations.
Rules and regulations for hunting in Arizona.
Regulations for spring hunts, fall hunts and pronghorn, elk hunts.