2008-2009 Missouri Quail Season Wrap-Up

I have to admit it was a good year for my dad and me. Plenty of good memories of covey flushes, excellent dog work and time spent with family and friends. I won't mention how poor my wing shooting was this year. I should consider attending a CONSEP class this spring to improve my aim and save a little money. The Cooperative North American Shotgunning Education Program (CONSEP) helps shotgun shooters and waterfowl and upland game bird hunters sharpen their skills in marksmanship, distance estimation and equipment selection, regardless of the shot material they choose to use. CONSEP training is provided by the Missouri Department of Conservaiton.

November was a slow month. Warm weather and predictions of a poor hatch due to the severe flooding and two years of ice storms had me a little worried. During the month of November I mainly hunted conservation areas and a few farms in central Missouri. This year I hunted a couple designated Quail Emphasis Areas. The habitat looks great and is improving each year on these areas--fields of ragweed and lots of felled trees and shrub thickets. Many of the coveys we found on conservation areas were difficult to hunt. The birds always seemed to disappear into the edge feather, which is great for the birds.

Public land birds get very smart after the first week or two of the season. For example, one day while hunting a conservation area a couple friends and I stopped to talk about habitat conditions. A couple minutes later we were surprised by the "brrr" of a flushing covey from under our feet. The covey had been their the entire time!

Another time I had a friend tell me they found a covey out in the middle of a cut corn field. I have a feeling the covey ran out into the corn field to avoid the hunters as they approached. Smart birds.

One highlight in November was watching a friend catch a quail as it flew past him. That's one way to help your shooting average! I did notice this year that many of the birds we harvested with gun or by hand were from August and early September hatches--a sign that the early hatches in June and July were a failure where I hunted. Next time you harvest a bird, take a look at the wing and try to determine its