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** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

Oct. 21, 2011

2010-11 quail season slightly improved from previous year

Survey results for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) 2010-11 Bobwhite Quail Hunter Survey indicates an average of 0.43 coveys per hour were flushed during the 2010-11 season, a slight increase from the 2009-10 season. Quail bagged per hour also increased slightly and rabbits jumped per hour increased significantly from last year. The reported average covey size decreased significantly from the previous year.

Seventy-seven percent of those responding rated the 2010-11 season as poor, while 17 percent gave the season a fair rating and 6 percent a good rating. Dog performance was rated good or fair by all cooperators.

Quail harvest rate in the Northern Coastal Plain was higher than in the other three regions (the Piedmont, Midlands and the Southern Coastal Plain or "Low Country"). The reported average size of quail coveys ranged from 7.4 birds per covey in the Piedmont to 11.2 birds per covey in the Midlands. Horry County claimed the top spot in the coveys per hour index at 0.67, followed by Charleston (0.55) and Darlington (0.55) counties. Darlington and Lee counties led the state in quail harvested per hour at 0.49, followed by Edgefield County (0.46).

Only the top county (Horry) for quail hunting lies in the Northern Coastal Plain Region. Nevertheless, Northern Coastal Plain counties have proven to be the better areas for South Carolina quail hunting. County results should be interpreted cautiously due to the relatively low number of hunts upon which they are based.

All potential Quail Hunter Survey cooperators were asked to provide wings from harvested birds. Age information was obtained from 103 wings collected during the 2010-11 season and cooperators provided the sex of the birds from which 91 wings were taken. A higher percentage of males is believed to be normal for fall quail populations because of the hen's greater susceptibility to predation and physical stress due to egg laying and incubation during the nesting season. However, the sex ratio obtained from quail wing samples during the 2010-11 season was 47 percent males to 53 percent females. Overall, the percentage of juveniles in the harvest was 75 percent, versus 25 percent adults. The age ratio was 2.96 juveniles per adult as compared to the age ratio of 5.95 juveniles per adult recorded in the 2009-10 survey. This decreased age ratio is possibly a reflection of poor nesting and brood rearing conditions during the 2010 nesting season.

Plans are underway to continue the Quail Hunter Survey for the 2011-12 season. Efforts are ongoing to increase the number of cooperators and all avid quail hunters are encouraged to participate. Contact the DNR Small Game Project, P.O. Box 167, Columbia, SC 29202, (803)734-3609, to be included in the survey.

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