Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Quail Forever in Oklahoma

 The necessity of hustling for a dollar here and a dollar there means that - apart from my own personal activities - I'm not nearly as involved with or even following the whole upland conservation scene these days as much as I'd like or should. But if you're a quail hunter in Oklahoma, (and there seem to be a few more of them in these days of a population upswing) you really should consider joining QF.

Recently QF hired a state coordinator, Laura McIver, and she is, quite frankly, tearing it up. In the space of six months or so, QF's presence in Oklahoma has gone from a few diehards comprising a single chapter in OKC, to something like five or six chapters statewide, with more sure to follow. In a state where over the past thirty years or so quail hunting has fallen from being a ubiquitous cultural icon to a largely-forgotten curiosity practiced mainly by old farts and solitary weirdos like myself, that's pretty remarkable.

I noticed last week there is a brand-new conservation group (sort of, if you count what amounts to a listserv as a conservation group) ostensibly dedicated to deer. Read between the lines, however, and it's really all about whitetails. You can probably take a guess as to my opinion on the need for yet another group or organization dedicated to those tasty, photogenic, hooved locusts, so I'll merely suggest that if you're a hunter with a few extra bucks (so to speak), you save your energy and resources for those species that are really in trouble, like quail or prairie grouse, (or, if you're into the ungulates, mule deer). I can hear the impending howls of indignation set to rain down upon me from the deerstalkers (of which I am one, ardently). I love whitetails, I really do. I love to hunt them, I love to watch them, and I love to eat them, but I see absolutely no need for even more of our already-stretched conservation advocacy energies going toward a game animal so patently not in need of it. (I've got my own thoughts on the alleged recent "declines" in whitetail numbers across some parts of the country that so many hunters are alarmed about, but I'll save them for another time, but I ask: is a decline really a decline if that decline is coming from within a cartoonish, artificially high population to begin with?). 

Anyway...It wasn't too long ago that many of us (including me) were predicting that within a few years the sport of quail hunting would become a sort of shotgun-based falconry, a tiny cult practiced by a dwindling group of monkish devotees. Well, two years of decent nesting conditions (at least in Oklahoma) and a mild upswing in quail numbers has revealed there are a few more of us still around than originally thought. Although I am by nature and choice a solitary hunter who avoids gregariousness, even I admit this is a good thing. We need more quail hunters in this state, because we need more advocates for quail and other upland birds. And as advocates for birds and upland habitat go, QF is a pretty damn good group with a high ROI. So if you're an Oklahoma quail hunter - current, former or wannabe - who wants to do something proactive for your passion so that it may not disappear in the future, go join one of those new QF chapters springing up across the state. It's a good thing. Just don't bother me when I'm out hunting.


  1. i was going to say the same thing about the "National Deer Alliance". I don't really see the need and i've got a feeling that we think the same way on the "declines" of the almighty whitetail.

    i would however add moose to the list of ungulates needing help

    1. Moose, definitely. They're struggling. And caribou. Why the hell don't we have a Caribou Unlimited? Moose Forever?

  2. Saw an ad for Whitetail Unlimited the other day and nearly crapped myself. Not sure if it was uncontrolled mirth or disgust, to be honest, but either would be appropriate. The Mule Deer Foundation, on the other hand, is doing good and necessary work as the mule deer populations are struggling in many parts of the West. I joined DU as a youngster, because I was there when times were tough for waterfowl. Things are somewhat better now, but they still get my support.

    As far as quail, there's a critter who could stand some help. Nesting conditions down here in the southern edge of the Texas Hill Country haven't done as well as in OK, but we've had some lucky breaks. I actually stopped to let three quail cross the road the other day, just outside of Uvalde (about 40 miles from my place) and I was tickled to see them. That was a first, in three years, and I hope it bodes well for the coming seasons. Still too scarce here for me to hunt them, but who knows?

    I'm with you, though, Chad... if folks are going to burn their dollars to support some kind of wildlife, burn them on critters that need it. QF is a great option (although I haven't seen any sign of them down here). I'll have to look into it.

    1. Yep, the Mule Deer Foundation is legit and absolutely needed. That's a species of particular need right now. I'm becoming more optimistic (in the short term) about our quail for this upcoming fall. It's been remarkably cool and wet lately, and cover is looking good. In fact, just go two more inches of rain day before yesterday. Crazy. Long-term, though, I still think it's a stacked deck and pretty much all prairie birds are gonna need all the help they can get.

      As for QF, well, chapters are still pretty scarce down there. They've got a tough chore making inroads in Texas, for a variety of reasons, chief among them the fact that there's already a Texas-specific state group (Quail Coalition) that basically does the same thing, same model and to which most Texas quail hunters (especially the wealthy ones, and in Texas wealthy and quail hunter are pretty much interdependent terms...) are already affiliated. Quail hunting in Texas really is (to paraphrase the slogan) a whole other country. Good group, though. Raises a ton of money for research.

  3. http://sportingclassicsdaily.com/issue/august-2014/article/eyeworms-killing-texas-bobwhites?mc_cid=74665bffb1&mc_eid=a9936b63fa


    Blood-Sucking Eyeworm Culprit to Quail Decline

    Blood-Sucking Eyeworm has a nice ring to it.