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Originally published Tuesday, October 10, 2017 at 05:58a.m.

KINGMAN – With big game seasons still a few weeks away, many local sportsmen have headed out in search of quail. The fall quail season opened Oct. 6 and closes Feb. 11.

Timely rains are the key to a good quail season, and they are expecting a good one this year, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

“Good winter precipitation particularly benefitted Gambel’s quail, the best known and most widespread of the state’s three main species,” according to AZGFD. “That has led to spring call counts that were almost double than they were in 2016 and higher than average in the last 10 years.”

Mohave County hunters can expect to find more birds this year. There will be a lot of young birds in the field, which means that hunters should have more opportunities to harvest them early in the season.

Erin Butler is the Region 3 Terrestrial Wildlife Biologist. Butler isn’t as optimistic about the prospect of a larger number of birds as her Phoenix counterparts are.

“We got better rain this year so I expect to have better quail numbers, but I’ve not seen that reflected on the ground. Likely better than we’ve had, but still an average year,” Butler said.

Hunters should concentrate their efforts in areas where water is available. Listen for birds calling throughout the day, use a hawk call when a covey is flushed and they may hold up.

Many quail hunters use 12-gauge shotguns to pursue these birds, though young hunters and veteran hunters seem to prefer 20-gauge guns.

Hunters 10 years and older who hunt quail are required to have a current hunting or combination license. Youth hunters between 10 and 17 years old can get a combination license for $5. Hunters who are under 10 years old must be accompanied by an adult who possesses a valid hunting or combination license.

The limit for quail is 15 per day with a possession limit of 45 birds after opening day. Quail must have the head, wing or leg with foot attached if they are field dressed.