Two English Pointers point a running covey of Gambels quail before a labrador retriever is released to flush them.

With the Arizona quail season now open, die-hard quail hunters will be looking forward to cooler temperatures to get out with their four-legged counterparts and reap the rewards of an abundance of moisture that came during the 2022-23 winter months.

Why? Gambels and to some extent scaled quail need the winter precipitation to set their reproductive gears in motion, and after two wet winters, by all accounts their numbers have substantially increased throughout their ranges.

On the other hand, Mearns quail require summer or monsoon rain which was below average throughout most of the range. The result will be lower numbers compared to the 2022/23 season.

Mearns quail hunting will be spotty at best and hunters should be prepared for a lot of “Armed Hikes” when Mearns quail season opens.

With the increase in the Gambels and scaled quail population throughout Arizona, bird hunters should have ample opportunities for stellar days afield, which should make up for the decrease in Mearns quail. 

Hunters looking for a starting point will want to focus around stock tanks and other water sources. Brushy draws and washes are also good areas to begin the day. 

For dogless hunters, having a quail call will help in locating the extremely vocal Gambels quail. 

Bird dog enthusiasts should be prepared for bits and pieces of dog work, as both Gambels and scaled quail are notorious runners and escape artists, sometimes leaving both dogs and hunters wondering where the birds went.