Hill Country Upland Game Management

Upland Game

Turkey Hen With Poults

Land management practices in the Hill Country are not favorable to some upland game species. For example, bobwhites are scarce throughout this region. Some blame it on coyotes (although there are relatively few coyotes in this region) and raccoons. Others blame it on feral hogs. Or, "How 'bout them fire ants?" While research has indicated that these factors affect nesting activity to some degree, no research has yet to show that any of these factors are limiting population viability. The truth is... Quail can't thrive where they can't nest. The #1 limiting factor to bobwhites in the Texas Hill Country is lack of suitable nesting cover. It doesn't take thousands of research dollars to understand this fact. Quail need bunchgrasses (e.g., little bluestem) in which to produce successful nests. This critical habitat component is absent throughout much of the Hill Country. Properties under a sound range and wildlife management program host decent quail populations.

Dove hunters in the eastern part of the region have fairly successful hunts, especially those that hunt over sunflower fields. Generally, mourning dove numbers decline from east to west throughout the region. Many Hill Country dove hunters are simply deer hunters working on their deer camps during Labor Day weekend. They carry their shotguns to the pastures in the evenings, knowing full well they won't limit-out. Nonetheless, it is another opportunity to get outdoors to appreciate nature.

The most abundant upland game species in the Hill Country is Rio Grande turkey. While they share some of the habitat needs of bobwhites, turkey often are able to adapt to adverse conditions. The recent droughts have negatively affected poult production; however, trend data indicates that turkey will likely rebound during good years. The 1997 (good rainfall) poult counts were nearly as high as the 1981 poult counts.

Rio Grande TurkeyPopulation Trends