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Wednesday, October 03, 2018
Ducks making timely arrivals
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Hunt clubs offer up great options

Quail numbers are up but birds are scattered
Prospects for quail season appear to be better than they have in the past five years based on field reports coming into Western Outdoor News . A good hatch of California valley quail, some better-than-average nesting along the lower Colorado River for Gambel’s quail and about an average hatch of quail along Baja Norte, should make for some pretty good scatter gunning.

BAJA NORTE VALLEY QUAIL — Baja Norte holds a strong population of native California valley quail and for year’s has been a go-to region for excellent quail hunting. Pictured is Dr. Brook Niemiec, DVM of San Diego, with his limit of valley quail that he shot while on a 2-day hunt with Gregg Shobe representing Rancho El Coyote-Meling. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

WON checked in with Reagan Slee, owner or Reagan’s Sporting Goods, (760) 872-3000, in Bishop about prospects for valley and mountain quail and chukar hunting. 

“There was a good hatch of California valley quail this past spring and into the early summer months. Mother Nature gave this eastern High Sierra region just enough rain and runoff from the snow pack to make for a decent hatch. There was plenty of cover to protect chicks and an abundance of bugs and native grass to allow chicks to grow into adult birds. Right now we are getting good reports from deer hunters about there being lots of quail afield,” stated Slee.

Slee went on to add, “I would think that there should be good valley quail hunting all the way from Tom’s Place clear on down to the lower Owens River Valley floor at Olancha. The lower slopes of the foothills appear to be holding good numbers of quail and some chukar at higher elevations. The report from deer hunters is that they are seeing small coveys of mountain quail in thicker brush up at elevations between 6,000 and 7,000 feet. There has been a lot of talk about this year’s upland game bird season locally in the shop most every day.”

Another valued WON contact is retired wildlife biologist John Massie of Ramona, who spends a lot of time checking on wildlife up around Lake Henshaw and into the Mesa Grande area.

“Surprisingly, there are more little quail out and about than one would have thought based on the minimal amount of rains that fell in northern San Diego County this past spring. While out scouting deer on My Country Club leased ranches, I am seeing lots more coveys of quail as compared to the last couple of years. While the size of a covey might be on the small side, from 8 to perhaps 15 birds, there are more coveys moving around,” reported Massie.

Western Outdoor News is very concerned about the new growth of green grass and other native plants that is starting to green-up foothill areas after those two storm fronts moved through earlier in the month. When new green grass begins to sprout it all but shuts down good quail hunting. Seems that quail don’t have to move around too much in the open to find food, water and cover when the green-up starts. It has always been tough hunting after an early winter rain, and this pattern could hold true into the early winter months for most all quail and chukar hunting spots. It was just a couple of years ago when there was a promising outlook for chukar, but heavy down pours in the high desert region southwest of Barstow gave chukar all the water and new cheat grass to feed on, which resulted in a very dismal opening weekend of chukar season.

Quail hunters are pretty secretive about good hunting spots and are not eager to share that information on where there is good quail hunting. Gregg Shobe, U.S. representative for Rancho El Coyote-Meling, (619) 390-0905, keeps tabs on how valley quail hunts are stacking up in the San Telmo Valley of Baja Norte, about a 2.5-hour drive south of Ensenada. Shobe’s report talks about just a fair quail hatch this summer with the average covey size presently between 25 to 50 birds, which is way off from those peak years when a covey size could number well over 100 birds and counting. Shobe added that most of the quail will be very adult birds, as a result of a good carryover of quail from last year’s hatch. Lloyd Meling is the master guide for Rancho El Coyote-Meling and works hard to ensure that hunters get on many coveys in a day to make for a very good native quail hunting experience.

Unattached quail hunters looking to hunt quail this season here in Southern California might want to get in touch with Kevin Johnson,, who is just starting to guide for quail hunts this season.

Western Outdoor News talked with Johnson, who filed the following information, “I have recently been issued my California guide’s license and have decided to start taking clients on guided upland game hunts for valley, Gambel’s and mountain quail here in Southern California. I have hunted these elusive birds for many years and now feel that I can share my knowledge of where to best hunt quail.”

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