Quail are the most elusive game bird in the Americas. This is in great part because they typically don’t populate unprotected lands. Finding quail in unprotected forest is as rare a site as you could fathom. Hunting them on private or stocked property is your best bet in the United States today, with ranches offering guided quail hunting excursions the best bang for your buck.
For those opting to go it alone on an unguided quail hunt, there are a few things to remember on your excursion. First, they are found on land with a combination of open land and woody cover, especially in fields of annual weeds with native grasses. When hunting them, remember they typically stay away from fields with extremely high or extremely low growth.
Knowing where to find them and what kind of environment they prefer is half the battle. But to hunt the bird, you must understand the bird. Its daily routine habits will tell you much about your search. For starters they graze in the morning in moderately grown pastures and as the sun heats up retreat to the safety of cooler brush, where they can rely on their camouflage for protection. They also will graze in the late afternoon and sleep at night.
Now you are armed with the knowledge of the behavior and where to find quail, all you need is a weapon. Just like most fowl hunting, you want to use a shotgun when stalking quail. Typically a 410 to 12 gauge will do. The most popular, however is the 20 gauge and even a 28 gauge. A 26″ barrel with a skeet choke is best used with a 7.5-8 load shell.
Just like all hunting trips, exercising gun safety is a paramount. Gun muzzles should be pointed skyward and the shotgun on safety until mounted to one’s shoulder. This straight line is important for hunter safety. A quail hunter should never take a shot at a low flying quail that would cause him to lower the muzzle of his shotgun below a horizontal plane with the ground, to avoid shooting fellow hunters or dogs.