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Mid-America Hunting Association
A large contiguous Bobwhite wild Quail hunting lease in Kansas, Missouri or Iowa does not exist that would satisfy a hunter for the season.
Any small acreage operation that advertises wild quail hunting is misleading. This area of the country simply does not have the large 15 to 25 section ranches well known in Texas to provide a lease to those that can afford to buy one.
The difference between Kansas, Missouri and Iowa and that of Texas quail hunting is that our region is grain farm land predominate while Texas is for cattle and goats.
Grain farming with its higher profit margin requires less acreage per farmer to make as much or typically more annual income than large cattle operations anywhere. Other contributing factors into the quail hunting lease equation is that within our area the road systems are in 1 mile squares and the most commonly bought and sold unit of property is the 1/4 section. Finally, add to our grain farming region the many watersheds that create the edge cover and it all adds up that no organization or only the rare wealthy hunter has been able to gain by himself enough gross acreage to have wild quail hunting. That is true except for us. It is the advantage gained through our collective buying power that allows us wild upland bird hunts.
We simply make it our year round job to lease enough habitat and limit hunters to insure all may hunt wild birds the entire season. Even with all of our effort and as good as our quail hunting is there does remain that quail hunting is by far our highest risk hunt. So high risk is a quail hunting that we have a higher ratio of deer hunters tagging true trophy whitetail deer each year than upland bird hunters capable of bagging a day’s bag limit.
One of our barometers on hunt quality is Kevin pictured above. He has been a long time Bobwhite only hunter that has weekends to hunt. He covers Kansas, Missouri and Iowa during the season and provides assessment free of exaggeration or ego. Kevin is the kind of hunter that has good and better days and rarely a bad day. The dog on the left is his first season pup coming up as a replacement for the senior dog at right.
What is shown below is a juvenile covey. Wings set to land. Taken on September 14 of a year with a poor wet spring during the critical hatch and brood months of May and June.
Seasonal timing of the picture is well identified by the soybeans in the far ground at right. Soybeans that well along and not yet yellow indicate late summer. The other interesting aspect of this picture is that the weed area in the near ground is an erosion ditch that broke through the fence line ends of the infield terraces. Once rainfall made this part of the field unavailable to the tractor it grew up in volunteer weeds. A farm that would well qualify for the buffer strip conservation program disdained by the landowner ends up making for good upland bird cover up against the grain field.
This covey gave more than a couple of chances at a picture. It rose up, traveling a short distance to settling down along the farm lane he and the landowner were walking while checking this land. This is about the best proof of Bobwhite re-nesting on a year when the prime nesting period probably produced few survivors. Having these year round encounters adds to our overall understanding from season to season where the better hunts will be found and where to spend money on a lease.
Within the central mid-west of Kansas, Iowa and Missouri, the most frequently bought and sold unit of land is the quarter section (160 acres). Farmers often speak in terms of how may quarters they own or farm rather than total acres. What one Texas hunter told us about comparing Missouri and Texas farm land is that one quarter in Missouri is worth a couple of sections in Texas. That is when comparing farm production and subsequently habitat compared to acreage.
The central mid-west does have preserve hunt operations the same thing is sometimes called controlled shooting areas. These are pen raised/release bird hunts. These birds extend beyond native to our area including chukar and in some cases released ducks.
In any case when it comes to wild quail hunting our habitat supports large wild coveys. However, the concentration of those coveys is far less than the frequently read about on a Texas hunt encountering 15 coveys/day. Further distinction is our hunts are foot only, no Gators up our way.
The limitation that drives our daily covey count is that of the quarter sections. For every four quarters hunted if each quarter takes 2 hours and if every quarter has a covey the hunter typically runs out of daylight during his daily hunt. The new to the central mid-west hunter is not likely to find four coveys in four quarters. Those with some time on the land will have a covey per stop. Then it is a matter of how many stops can be made in a day. rare occasions will find as many as three coveys at at single spot. A more frequent occurrence is a single large covey that gives more than an hour’s dogs work on singles.
All hunters will have the same opportunity to have such experiences as good and great hunts. For many that find those four coveys in a day they may very well not harvest a bag limit.. The lack of limit harvest will come down to an element or more within the upland bird hunter trilogy of willingness to walk, shooting ability and dog power. It takes that combine three point aspects to determine the number of coveys found and shot opportunities. Those with recurring trips to our lease land will find that as a self guided hunter he may return to the more productive quarters on each trip as well as develop more covey holding quarters. It will not be long until he can know of more coveys than time on a trip to hunt.