I have a friend who calls quail. He doesn't use a phone or other fancy electronics. He mimics the fall covey call, or, as I like to say, their “come-hither” call. Click the audio tab on this page to listen to the "come-hither" quail call.
Often quail are present and we just don't know it because they are not calling. Several years ago, I was trapping wild quail for a radio-collar study. On a very early June morning, I had just set up my electronic caller to play the “come-hither” call in an attempt to call birds into the trap. I turned on the caller and backed up a few feet to make sure everything looked right, and I saw something out of the corner of my eye. When I turned to look, there was nothing. I looked back toward my trap and there it was again, out of the corner of my eye. Again, I turned and saw nothing.
The next thing I remember I was jumping back out of the way of a male quail headed straight for my electronic “come-hither” quail. Realizing the bird was bound to crash into my face, I ducked and fell backwards. Each time I looked up, the quail settled into the weeds. When I looked away, he flew up again. Evidently, he had thought my “come-hither” call was a lonely hen and had come down the hill toward me in short, hopping flights through the weeds.
What really intrigued me about this incident is that I had no idea I even had quail on the place, let alone in that field. All spring long there were no familiar “bob-white” quail calls from that field. That morning, quail were calling about one-half mile away, but not in the field where this bird came from.
Now back to my friend. Over the years I have learned how common it is to have “quiet” quail. My friend reminded me of that several times this summer. When giving me a tour of his farm, we would stop and he would imitate the “come-hither” call. Sometimes a quail would answer back. A few times a quail would actually fly right toward us, realizing at the last second that we were not quite what he was looking for! We would not have known about these birds presence if my friend could not say “come hither” in quail speak.
Did you listen to the quail-call audio yet? Try to imitate it the next time you are out in quail country. It works best during the quail-breeding season, but I have also used it in the fall and got answers back from other quail wanting to come hither. Let me know if you have success finding "quiet quail"!