This past season Iowa’s quail hunters enjoyed their best hunting since 2007, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Hunters harvested an estimated 28,400 quail in 2015, which was a 165 percent increase over 2014. The large increase in quail harvest was predicted by the August roadside survey which counted the highest number of quail in 21 years.
“We expected to see more quail harvested based on the August roadside survey and our current trend of mild winters,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife research biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Bogenschutz uses a population model that considers total winter snowfall, and spring rainfall and temperature data to estimate winter survival and nesting success, plus the annual August roadside survey that counts actual pheasants, quail, cottontail, jackrabbit and partridge staff see along the 218 30-mile routes.
“We know, given certain snowfall and rainfall amounts, with a degree of certainty, how the upland populations are likely to react, based on 50 years of data. Given the mild winter and below normal rainfall, potential for upland birds looks good for the fall right now for the east central, southeast and south central regions. The western third had more rain and more snow so the potential looks less,” he said.
“Anecdotally, staff and landowners have been reporting more roosters crowing and male bobwhite calling across the southern third of Iowa this spring, which is a sign of good overwinter survival. The best predictor will be this August when we conduct our roadside survey. But I like the direction the model is pointing.”