By JIM FOSTER
Special to the Parade
The Bob White quail and Texas were made for each other. Even at a young age, I read all I could find about quail hunting and famous quail hunters.
In the beginning, there was a quail. Some even believe it was quail the Lord sent to the Israelites during their trek through the wilderness; they called it “manna.”
The statewide quail season opened on Oct. 29 and will run through Feb. 26, of 2012. The daily bag limit for this season will be 15 birds with 45 in possession after the third day.
Quail hunting has taken me to more than a few states and introduced me to people who have become old and dear friends. The late Judge Harry Lewis and Richard McInnis were two of these people. The list is not long but is a treasured one, and all is owed to upland hunting and the love of a good bird dog.
Last year, I was following a pup, a 7-month-old German Wirehair Pointer named Kenai belonging to yours truly. We were hunting a double tree line in North Texas and found a large covey in the trees. The dog would point and birds would flush, and the hunters would get a crazy zigzag shot as the quail would either flush straight up and over the trees or fly into the alley between the trees making for even a harder weaving shot.
Later that day, we worked a large draw, and at the end of a one-mile walk we had bagged several blue quail, two bob white quail, and four fat rooster pheasants. We will be hunting this area again in December and hope the hunting will be as good.
Quail were in recovery during the summer of 2010 after prolonged drought. Although numbers did improve, Texas is now in the midst of the worst one-year drought on record and has been in the “extraordinary” drought category for most of the summer.
There were no appreciable rains in the spring or summer of 2011 that will have a have implications for ground nesting birds like bobwhite and scaled quail. In most areas, range conditions are poor and nesting and brood rearing habitat is greatly limited. Carryover will play a major role in those areas with huntable numbers of birds.
In South Texas, drought conditions did affect quail productions. High daily temperatures combined with low rainfall hindered bobwhite reproductive efforts. Scattered rains fell at a scale too small for Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) survey to detect. In these areas, quail were more successful, especially where range was being properly managed. The eastern half, the coastal areas were holding a fair numbers of birds.
Hunters interested in public hunting should try the Chaparral and the Daughtrey Wildlife Management Areas should provide good quail hunting for the walking hunter with a dog.
There are several other local public-hunting areas within an hours drive from the coast that may be hunted by purchasing a Public Lands Permit.