A Bounty of Bobs The Cross Timbers and Rolling Plains areas west of Fort Worth have seen solid quail production in the past couple of seasons — and in this one, too! Exciting action awaits you at these prime locations. ... [+] Full Article
In the right counties west of D/FW and in the lower Panhandle, quail shooters can double their bags by hunting both bobwhites and blues. These are some top spots for doing just that! (December 2008)
By Brandon Ray
Panhandle quail hunter Michael Haggar admires a handsome blue quail. This view shows why they're called "scaled quail."
Photo by Brandon Ray.
"In the hard-scrabble fringes of Texas' bobwhite range, the gentleman bob often shares habitat with the maddeningly undisciplined blue quail. The exquisitely marked blues, more properly called scaled quail, will quickly make a classic bird hunter sing the blues. Running like sawed-off pheasants, blue quail will drive a pointing dog crazy."
That quotation comes from the book Texas Quail, by Ray Sasser and Wyman Meinzer. Its reference to places in which bobs and blues share common ground makes me think of memorable combination hunts from the past -- hunts made more exciting because they were for two species instead of just one.
When I hunt Texas mule deer, I often do so in Panhandle counties, where it's possible to find whitetails. In certain regions, the species overlap with only slight differences in preferred habitat. In such places I've glassed mulies feeding on winter wheat near broken canyons and then swiveled my scope to find whitetails cruising a nearby river bottom. When I hunt javelinas in South Texas, feral hogs share the same real estate and come as a bonus. Often I see javvies and fat porkers vacuuming corn kernels on the same sendero. So it makes sense that when I'm planning a quail hunt I usually do so in an area where I can double my opportunities.
I guess it's a sign of the times that I want more opportunities from my limited days in the field. When I start each morning, I eat breakfast at my keyboard while checking e-mail. When I drive to my ranch office I return phone calls while at the wheel. It just seems like in today's fast-paced world we have to do more with less time. Instead of planning one hunt for bobwhites and another trip for scaled quail, why not combine the two? That's certainly one reason why crossover quail counties appeal to me.
Another reason I like hunting these crossover counties is variety. When I'm tired of playing run-and-gun on racy blues, I'll shift hunting terrain to places that favor bobwhites. Maybe they'll be more polite and hold tight for the dogs? Yeah -- maybe.
Another benefit to hunting a ranch where both birds exist is annual weather patterns. In some years bobwhites reproduce best, and so their numbers are high. At other times, typically in drier years, blue quail numbers are more stable while bobwhites might crash. By hunting crossover counties you can usually find huntable numbers of at least one quail species. If, for example, you hunt in a county to the east known only for bobwhites, due to scarce rainfall there may not be enough birds to justify those all-day walks. It's sometimes boom or bust. By contrast, birds found farther west are accustomed to dry weather and therefore more tolerant of drought conditions.
My friend and TPWD technical guidance biologist in Weatherford, Ty Bartoskewitz, shared more insight on the differences of these two species of quail.