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Are Oklahoma's quail gone for good?

It's been a pitiful season for Oklahoma quail hunting
by Ed Godfrey Modified: January 22, 2011 at 10:31 pm •  Published: January 22, 2011

photo - Bobwhite quail have been difficult to find by Oklahoma hunters this season. Photo provided
Bobwhite quail have been difficult to find by Oklahoma hunters this season. Photo provided

Whatever happened to Bob White?

That's the way Rick Jerman, a 68-year-old avid quail hunter from Oklahoma City, began his letter to The Oklahoman.

“Bird dogs and quail have been my favorite past-time,” Jerman writes. “I have hunted far western Oklahoma from the Texas border to the Kansas border. Years ago this was one of the most productive quail hunting areas in the country.

“The Black Kettle National Grasslands brought in hunters from all over the country to hunt the bobwhite quail. They were plentiful and it was not unusual to have a limit of 10 by lunch time.

“In the last several years the quail population has dwindled to almost nothing. It is sad to watch bird dogs work, looking for that scent that sends them into that frozen state we call ‘on point.'

“Recently my son and I purchased some quail and turned them loose in an area that used to be teaming with wild birds. We returned to hunt the area and for the first time this season our dogs were pointing and retrieving quail. Is this what quail hunting has come to in our state?”

Sadly, at least for this season, it has. It has been a pitiful year for Oklahoma quail hunting. You know it's bad when hunters start writing letters to the editor.

Jerman is not the only hunter moaning the plight of quail. I have received several other e-mails from disgruntled quail hunters with the same question.

A common opinion is that the rising population of deer and turkeys and the declining population of quail is no coincidence.

“For the past 50 years from the northwest to the southwest, I have witnessed a tremendous explosion of turkey and deer,” another quail hunter's e-mail stated.

“The turkeys are predators of the (quail) eggs and chicks. The deer have a natural curiosity of the nest on the ground in their grazing areas… Just a theory from a guy who has chased that bird dog and that covey for 50 years.”

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by Ed Godfrey
Copy Editor, Outdoors Editor, Rodeo, River Sports Reporter
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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