Idaho’s quail boom isn’t over.
Last year’s record numbers of Valley quail in southwestern Idaho were so impressive, the state’s Fish and Game Commission voted in December to extend the season into January for the first time.
Hunters bagged about 200,000 quail last season, nearly double the number hunters took five years ago.
The quail boom apparently has continued this year.
“There’s an interest in quail that Idaho’s never had before,” said Tom Hemker, Idaho Fish and Game Department upland bird manager in Boise.
Quail cannot be hunted in Idaho north of the Lewiston area. But tight-holding birds should warm a lot of shotgun barrels from the Clearwater Region south.
A hunter from Eastern Washington or North Idaho normally has few reasons to travel to southwestern Idaho. This year, however, quail could be a cause.
The southern part of the state had moist weather without the bitter cold last winter. Several mild winters have been a boon to quail.
Virtually any cover near a stream or water source is likely to have quail in a swath of prime hunting country from Burley to Weiser, Hemker said.
Although quail are profuse near private agriculture areas, they’re also plentiful on the vast spread of land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Anglers with boats can work Snake River islands.
Jim Unsworth, an upland bird hunter and state big-game biologist in Nampa, had bright insight for hunters heading out for the Sept. 20 opening of Idaho’s quail season.
“When I was doing spring deer surveys, I couldn’t help but notice there were quail all over, in town, in the country, in habitat where you wouldn’t normally find quail,” he said.
The Fish and Game Commission has said it would consider another possible January extension of the quail seasons during its Dec. 4-5 meeting in Boise.
The criteria for the extension would include weather and population levels.
For information on hunting federal lands in southwestern Idaho, contact U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Idaho State Office, 3380 Americana Terrace, Boise, Idaho 83706, telephone (208) 384-3000.