PHOENIX — The wait is over for hunters eager to get out and stomp around the often steep and rocky terrain of southeastern Arizona in search of Mearns’ quail.
The season begins Friday, Dec. 7, and runs through Feb. 10, 2019. The season for Gambel’s, scaled and California quail has been underway since Oct. 19 and also closes Feb. 10, 2019.
A valid Arizona hunting or combination license is required for all hunters 10 and older. All youth hunters 10 to 17 can purchase a youth combination license for only $5. Those hunters under 10 must be accompanied by an adult who possesses a valid hunting or combination license. Licenses can be purchased online at https://www.azgfd.com/license/, or from license dealers statewide.
The general bag limit is 15 quail per day in the aggregate, of which no more than eight may be Mearns’ quail. The general possession limit is 45 quail in the aggregate after opening day, of which no more than 15 Gambel’s, scaled or California quail in the aggregate may be taken in any one day. After the opening of the Mearns’ season, the 45-quail possession limit may include 24 Mearns’ quail, of which no more than eight may be taken in any one day.
For more information, visit https://www.azgfd.com/hunting/species/smallgame/quail/. Another resource for both new and experienced hunters alike is “An Introduction to Hunting Arizona’s Small Game.” Written by the department’s Randall D. Babb, the 196-page, full-color book covers where and how to hunt small game birds (like quail), squirrels, rabbits, ducks and geese. It also includes how to prepare and cook your harvest, with illustrations and recipes.
The book can be ordered for $16.95 at www.azgfd.gov/publications.
As a reminder, the Arizona Game and Fish Department still is accepting registration for hunters to participate in the Arizona Small Game Challenge, a new concept created in partnership with the Valley of the Sun Chapter of Quail Forever that highlights the state’s abundance of small game hunting opportunities.
Every $25 registration will be matched, dollar for dollar, by the Valley of the Sun Chapter of Quail Forever to benefit small game species through habitat improvements such as grassland restoration, planting crops for wildlife and water source development.
The Arizona Small Game Challenge is comprised of four individual challenges — including a Native Quail Challenge:
Native Quail: Gambel’s quail, Mearns’ quail, scaled quail.
Desert (harvest five of seven): mourning dove, white-winged dove, Eurasian collared-dove, cottontail rabbit, Gambel’s quail, Mearns’ quail, scaled quail.
Mountain (harvest five of seven): Dusky (blue) grouse, chukar, band-tailed pigeon, cottontail rabbit, tree squirrel (Kaibab, Red, Abert’s).
Upland Bird: Dusky (blue) grouse, chukar, Gambel’s quail, Mearns’ quail, scaled quail.
A hunter who completes his or her first challenge will receive a plaque that includes an engraving plate to mark the achievement. The plaque comes with space for additional engraving plates as a hunter completes one of the remaining challenges each hunting season.
The first step is to register at https://www.azgfd.com/hunting/species/smallgame/challenge-info/. The registration fee is $25 per challenge (a hunter is eligible for only one challenge per year). Then go hunting in accordance with all legal requirements, including season dates.
Be sure to take a time-stamped photograph of each species harvested for a particular challenge, then visit the website and fill out the verification form to certify the completion of that challenge. All photographs and the completed verification form should be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or mailed to: Arizona Game and Fish Department, Small Game Program Manager, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ, 85086. Photographs will not be returned.