Texas Quail Populations Rebounding
By Elizabeth Trovall, StateImpact Texas
Texas quail hunters finally have something to smile about as populations are making a comeback.
After the number of quail in the state plummeted last year, quail counts are on the rise this season. But that small increase might not be enough to bring hunters out in full force, said Texas A&M wildlife professor Dale Rollins. When it comes to quail, he said, as Texas goes, so goes the nation.
“Texas is the Alamo, if you will, of wild quail hunting,” Rollins said. “So there’s a lot of people watching what’s happening in the state of Texas.”
Rollins says it’s not a surprise that the birds’ population rebounded this year. After all, the weather was better. The problem is that quail numbers started dropping long before the 2011 drought. So it’s more than bad weather that’s causing their decline.
“Our quail have historically high levels of worms in their eyes and their lower gut,” Rollins said.
Those worms impair the birds’ vision and leave them vulnerable to predators. So to help the quail recovery this season, some landowners might take one major predator out of the equation.
“There will be many ranches in the state that say they want to give our populations a break from hunting this year,” Rollins said.
He says ranchers will know if the strategy is working by heading out into their land and giving a simple bird call.
“And if they hear more than six roosters per stop, that’s indicative of a good breeding season,” Rollins said.
And that could mean even higher numbers of quail in years to come.