One of the most underrated and least talked about game in the US, is the quail. Something that has in recent years become one of my favorite animals to hunt, quail hunting offers more than just a sports experience; it offers up unfiltered tradition, a communion with nature, and in certain places, it borders on a way of life.
From the East Coast’s dense woodlands to the expanses of the Southwest, the US offers a wealth of beautiful terrain for quail hunting across the land that I cannot recommend enough.
Whether you’re looking at getting into quail hunting for next season, or you’re just curious about how it works, this overview will cover everything you need to know about the sport!
Remember, a good hunter is an informed hunter, even about game they don’t typically hunt.
Let’s get into it!
Where to Go Quail Hunting
As someone who hunts in several countries, there is one thing that the United States will forever reign dominant on: its variety of terrain and wildlife.
The bobwhite quail is primarily found around the East/South Coast and Midwest and is particularly popular in states like Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.
The gambel and scaled quail are all over the place in the Southwest, so think states like Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico.
An honorable mention is the mountain quail, which tends to be in the mountainous regions of the west, but these hunts I’ve heard are less than pleasant because of the difficult terrain and amount of unenterable hiding places the birds likes to delve into.
Which Firearm is Best for Quail Hunting?
While hunting more… fragile animals like the quail, the equipment you use is crucial to know that you’re now absolutely blowing the animal to pieces.
Too often with game like this I see hunters use way too powerful of guns and ammunition.
Here is what we would recommend:
For your firearm, I’d go with an over-under or side-by-side 12, 16, 20, or 28-gauge shotgun (20 if this is your first time hunting upland birds). For barrel length, you want to of course stay within 26 to 28 inches, and use either a modified or improved cylinder choke.
If you wanna know more about which chokes to go for, check out my guide here!
For ammunition go with small pellets, like #7.5, #8, or #9.
My last few quail hunting adventures have been with my Browning Citori 725 (it’s modified a bit), and it has worked great.
How to Hunt Quail
One of the main reasons I love quail hunting so much is that it’s one of the more fun adventures to have with your feline hunting companions.
I have a purebred pointer dog who has been excellent in both locating and flushing out the quail (still working on her retrieving skills).
You most definitely do not need a dog to go quail hunting, hoever. Walk-up hunting is also fun; though I would refrain from still hunting (unless you’re super into that). Not because it’s impossible to hunt quail that way, they just don’t move around that much so you’re going to have to possibly wait a long time.
When to Hunt
As with most animals, fall and winter tend to be the season for most quail hunting. However, make sure to check out your state’s local wildlife regulations for both dates, bag limits, and any additional hunting regulations that might apply!
Just a little bit of information ’bout the bird
Quail hunting has traditions and roots going back way before European settlers arrived in the country. Native Americans have been hunting quail since as far back as can possibly be known with traps and bows.
Quail are social animals and live in groups we call “coveys”. They mostly just eat seeds and insects, and their habitats tend to have granted access to food for them so they mostly just vibe around their terrain and live a good life.
Until we come along of course.
Nesting happens around spring and early summer, and when you do end up going out to hunt in the fall time, they’re going to be more active in the early morning or late afternoon.
Ethics of Quail Hunting
As we consider ethics at the core of what makes an Elite Hunter, I cannot finish this article without mentioning the ethics and conservationist dilemmas around quail hunting.
There has been a decline in the population in certain regions, but as conservation efforts have gotten better and better, there are now such strict bag limits in all states that this is not something you should have to worry about.
As long as you have a tag, get a clean shot and respect the animal, you should be all good to go.
The Bottom Line: Quail Hunting is Awesome
I have to just reiterate how exciting, fun, and “chill” quail hunting is. The terrain they tend to live in (I only go for Midwest hunting) is absolutely stunning and easy to navigate.
The birds themselves are beautiful, relatively easy to get a good shot at and taste delicious.
Quail hunting is a wonderful and enriching way to enjoy our sport. I promise that regardless of your skill level or experience, you’re going to truly enjoy what quail hunting has to offer.
I hope you found this little quail hunting overview useful! If you’re looking for more hunting-related content, check out our extensive library right here.