Texas Quail Forecast
Statewide surveys were initiated in 1978 to monitor quail populations. This index uses randomly selected, 20-mile roadside survey lines to determine annual quail population trends by ecological region. Comparisons can be made between the mean (average) number of quail observed per route this year and the long term mean (LTM) for quail observed within each ecological region. The quail survey was not designed to predict relative abundance for any area smaller than the ecological region.
Bobwhite quail hunting can be hit or miss in Texas considering our population strongholds occur on the very western edge of their distribution in the U.S. Weather plays a key role in the annual boom-bust cycle in these semi-arid regions where two to three consecutive years of favorable conditions usually results in a boom year. There are still vast expanses of suitable bobwhite habitat in the rangelands of South Texas and the Rolling Plains, where in some years over a hundred thousand hunters pursue these wary game birds.
The 2016 season was a record breaking one in the Rolling Plains where quail populations could be described as having a “super boom” year. Excellent hunts were reported through the end of the season. South Texas also had areas where good to excellent hunts were reported. Heading into 2017, late winter and spring rainfall was average to below average, setting up adequate nesting cover, winter forage and enough insects to trigger nesting. Portions of south Texas and the Rolling Plains regions were in moderate drought during mid-summer which may have negatively impacted brood survival. Hunters will likely see more adult bobwhites in the bag compared to more productive years. Juvenile birds have buffy tips (PDF) on their secondary coverts while adults do not.
Quail Survey Data in Major Ecological Regions
For quail survey data and information on a region, click its name in the list below.
Map of Gould Ecological Regions
List of Gould Ecological Regions
- Gulf Prairies and Marshes (Bobwhite Quail)
- Post Oak Savanna
- Blackland Prairies
- Cross Timbers and Prairies (Bobwhite Quail)
- South Texas Plains (Scaled Quail, Bobwhite Quail)
- Edwards Plateau (Scaled Quail, Bobwhite Quail)
- Rolling Plains (Scaled Quail, Bobwhite Quail)
- High Plains (Scaled Quail, Bobwhite Quail)
- Trans Pecos, Mountains and Basins (Scaled Quail)