Upland Birds


“Quail” is a catchall term for several species of small game birds of the order Galliformes. In North America the Gambel's, mearns, mountain, California quail, and bobwhite are most commonly pursued by hunters. Bobwhites are hunted in the highest numbers and considered by many to be the king of game birds. They're found in 38 of the 50 states with the highest concentrations in the Southeast and Texas. Californias are the most numerous of the Western species, and can be found in coveys of several hundred birds in some regions. Mountain quail inhabit the same country as the California quail, but are larger with more prominent blue plumage. Gambel’s, or desert quail, can be found in the southwest, as can the smaller scaled quail. Mearn’s or Montezumas are the smallest of the Western quail. They range from Texas west and down into Mexico. Across the board quail numbers have seen a staggering decline in the United States, but there are several places where wild birds can be found, just not in numbers older hunters may remember. Quail require a mixed habitat of open ground and dense brush. They're nearly always hunted with pointing dogs, which will locate the covey and hold or “point” near the birds. On command, the dogs will flush the birds, sending them into flight for the shooters. Quail fly in a particularly erratic, low-to-the-ground fashion, which makes them such a challenge and a joy to hunt. Many consider quail hunting them the highest form of wingshooting.