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Wednesday, May 24, 2017
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Latest storms should help upland game nesting period
Unseasonable rains, winds and cold temperatures pushed across the southern part of the state and down into Baja and mainland Mexico, but this weather pattern might have offered up just enough added rain to bring around an extremely productive nesting season for upland game birds.

Western Outdoor News sent out an e mail to outfitters, guides and wildlife biologists to find out about conditions afield and their thoughts on the upland bird populations.

doublinguponrioDOUBLING UP ON RIO GRANDE GOBBLERS — Seth Schneider of Santa Rosa Valley was on a central coast turkey hunt with his father Tom and they both harvested trophy class Rio Grande toms. It was a guided hunt with master guide/outfitter Don Anderson of Anderson Taxidermy and Guide Service based out of Atascadero.

First to check in with WON was retired DFW wildlife biologist John Massie of Ramona.

“The main factor in late spring rain and cold weather and it’s affect on newly hatched turkey chicks is how long the poults stay wet. Even fully feathered out poults have trouble with rain that lasts more than three or four days. Otherwise those little chicks still in a downy state need to be up against their mother’s skin to stay warm. Even a few drops on them can be bad if there are too many of them to get under her protective wings,” stated Massie,

Massie went on to add, “From trips out to the foothills and local mountains I don’t think that valley quail have gotten into full hatching mode yet. The peak of the breeding season doesn’t occur until earlier in the summer and I think that probably baby quail (ie, fur balls) will be all right, but it’s not the best thing that could happen.”

Up along the central coast the outlook for quail and a successful hatch of turkey poults is looking very promising. WON checked in with Don Anderson, of Anderson Taxidermy and Guide Service.

“This year should be the best in the last five years for both quail and turkey hatches and survival. The amount of rain we had this past winter and into the early spring months was double the average: grass cover is way above normal and there is a large hatch of insects which will sustain young birds. At the present time I am seeing large numbers of valley quail already paired off and they should begin nesting soon,” says Anderson.

Anderson had the following to report on how the turkeys in his area are doing, “Hen turkeys have been nesting for the last three weeks and I would expect to see young poults most any day. Because of the tall grass they could already be out there now, but they are hidden by the cover, in fact, it is hard to locate some of the adult birds because of the high and dense over out there at this time.”

The following is a combined quail outlook from both Randy Babb and Kirby Bristow, wildlife biologists for the Arizona Department of Game and Fish.

“The southwest region has received some rain during the past couple of months, not much, but hopefully enough to produce a good hatch on Gambel’s quail. The fact that were not a lot of adult birds to breed, it’s likely that numbers will be up slightly but not like they were a few years ago. Scaled quail hunting should be about the same as last year, with some pockets holding larger coveys than other areas. While the southwestern part of the state will see less than normal reproduction on Gambel’s and scaled quail the area from Phoenix on up towards Kingman should come off with a good hatch with bigger coveys to hunt,” said both Babb and Bristow.

Good reports are coming in from Baja Norte, especially after last week’s low pressure system that dropped down south and heavy rain hit valley quail country pretty good. Gregg Shobe, U.S. representative for Rancho El Coyote-Meling, (619) 390-0905, e mailed the following report.

“I have been down in the San Telmo Valley area twice this spring and it’s crazy how many paired up valley quail I am seeing. Haven’t seen much in the way of chicks so far, but it’s still early and they should begin showing up any time now. Rainfall totals at hunt ranch headquarters was about 14 inches of rain this year to date. There is plenty of ground cover and grasses. Local ranchers who got their barley and oat hay crops in early are enjoying a very successful harvest. Grain left on the ground will only help in the survival of valley quail chicks. I would be led to believe the valley quail hunting in the San Telmo Valley will be the best in a number of years,” said Shobe.

The last time this hunting editor checked in with Harold Horner, outfitter for High Desert Guide Service based out of Victorville, was in January about this fall’s chukar season led to the following:

“It appears that there is water in the high desert, the ground cover is very good with lots of bunch grass, other vegetation and insect life. I would think that if we get some rains later this spring that the chukar hatch could be the best in years,” stated Horner.

Horner added the following this past week, “Some rain fell in Lucerne Valley and there was some snow and sleet at higher elevations. Any precipitation at this critical time of the spring nesting season is good. I haven’t seen any chicks on the ground yet, as they usually don’t start showing up at our hunt ranch location until late June or early July,” said Horner.

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