Last year the Conservation Commission approved quail-hunting regulations that will simplify quail-hunting rules and provide a quality hunting experience on designated conservation areas around the state. The proposal was reviewed by several Department biologists, the Regulations Committee and the Missouri Quail and Grassland Bird Leadership Council, which is composed of hunting and farming organizations such as Quail Forever, Quail Unlimited, Missouri Soybean Association and Missouri Cattlemen’s Association.
Most notably has been the elimination of the 1 p.m. closure on a few department areas. On these areas quail hunters can now pursue quail all day during the prescribed season. The 1 p.m. closure was implemented in the late 1980s to reduce hunting pressure and to provide time for coveys to regroup and feed in the evening. The 1 p.m. closure was dropped because research didn’t support keeping it. In the late 1990s, Department biologists conducted a study comparing restricted hunting regulations to statewide regulations on the Blind Pony Lake Conservation Area in Saline County. The study divided the area in half with part of the area open to statewide quail hunting regulations and the other half only open to restricted hunting regulations. Interestingly, at the end of the study the researchers found no difference in quail densities or the physical condition of birds between the two sites.
Researchers also found that restricted hunting, like the 1 p.m. closure, didn’t improve winter survival. In fact, many of the birds still died from natural causes over the winter. Biologists also noticed that after 1 p.m., quail were still being “pressured” by other legal activities on the conservation area. For example, coveys were still flushed by rabbit hunters and other area users. Other research projects have shown that quail wise up to hunting pressure and often take drastic steps to avoid hunters. For example, in one research project coveys were documented roosting on the conservation area only to fly to private land to spend the rest of the day. Other studies showed that coveys started to move away from hunters and researchers when they were more than 300 yards away. Somehow the birds knew they were coming! I’ve observed similar behaviors during late-season hunts on conservation areas. The later in the season, the smarter the birds get.
Additionally in 2009, eight conservation areas will require quail hunters to have a prescribed hunting permit and a valid area daily tag to quail hunt. The free permit and tag will be available at the area headquarters or parking lots. At the end of the day, hunters will need to return the hunting card to the area headquarters or place the card in a drop box in the parking lot. The daily hunting tag will provide vital information for biologists on the amount of hunting pressure, bird harvest and hunting success on the conservation area. This information will be used in the future to provide better hunting opportunities on conservation lands.
Two conservation areas will also offer managed quail hunting opportunities. The Dan and Maureen Cover Memorial Wildlife Area (Oregon County) and Carrick W. Davidson – Robert G. Paris Wildlife Area (Howell County) will allow quail hunting only through a random draw that will be completed each fall. Information on how to apply follows this article. The purpose of the managed quail-hunt system is to provide a high-quality quail-hunting experience on areas with good quail numbers.
Here is a summary of the new quail hunting regulations approved by the Conservation Commission. Effective March 1, 2009, the Wildlife Code of Missouri has established the following provisions for quail hunting on the listed Department areas. Quail hunting is permitted under statewide regulations on most other conservation areas, except that quail hunting is prohibited on a few Department areas. Please refer to the Wildlife Code of Missouri (3 CSR 10-7.415 and 3 CSR 10-11.184) for details on Missouri’s quail seasons and regulations.
Quail may be taken only by holders of the prescribed hunting permit and a valid area daily hunting tag, and hunters must check out immediately after the close of their hunting trip on the following conservation areas: Bunch Hollow Conservation Area, Crowleys Ridge Conservation Area, Davisdale Conservation Area, Maintz Wildlife Preserve, and Emmett and Leah Seat Memorial Conservation Area.
Quail hunting is permitted only through Dec. 15 on the following conservation areas: Dr. O.E. and Eloise Sloan Conservation Area and Whetstone Creek Conservation Area.
Quail hunting is permitted only through Dec. 15 by holders of the prescribed hunting permit and a valid area daily hunting tag, and hunters must check out immediately after the close of their hunting trip on the following Department areas: Bois D’Arc Conservation Area, Robert E. Talbot Conservation Area and White River Trace Conservation Area.
Quail hunting is only permitted only by holders of the prescribed hunting permit who have been selected to participate in the area’s managed quail hunts on the following Department areas: Dan and Maureen Cover Prairie Conservation Area and Carrick W. Davidson – Robert G. Paris Wildlife Area.
These changes will help simplify quail-hunting regulations on conservation lands while providing additional hunting opportunities for Missouri quail hunters. If you get the chance, get out and explore one of these conservation areas this fall.