How long has it been since you’ve heard the distinct whistling call of a bobwhite quail? For me, that time is measured in years, and for a lot of Central Texans, I’d bet it has been decades if ever.
Thirty years ago, our area was home to a healthy quail population. Habitat destruction and other factors have all but eliminated the birds from our area, and when the birds disappear, so does the hunting. A wildlife specialist told me not long ago that Texas has seen an 80% drop in quail hunting in that same period and the bobwhite quail population dropped to an all-time low in the past few years.
The scarcity of quail has contributed to higher prices for hunting them. A study of Texas quail hunters showed that nearly 100 percent of them had annual incomes of over $100,000. The same survey indicated the cost of a quail hunt averages $1,000 per day when hunting fees, lodging, travel, meals, and other related expenses were factored in.
But there are people and organizations dedicated to bringing quail back to our area. The Heart of Texas chapter of Quail Forever is hosting a seminar on developing and maintaining quail habitat on March 20, beginning at 5:30, at Rudy’s “Country Store” and Bar-B-Q (2510 Circle Road in Waco) to talk with landowners and other interested people or groups about creating better habitats for quail.
Chapter president Robbie Gilbert says the meeting will likely last a couple of hours. It will feature experts in the subject, including Brian Roberts, a quail habitat education specialist with Texas Wildlife Association, and Clete Vanderburg, a district conservationist from the USDA.
“We’re hoping this seminar will be a stepping stone to larger, more informative series of seminars in the future,” Gilbert said. To keep up with future meetings and events, visit their Facebook page (Heart O’Texas Chapter of Quail Forever).
White bass still running
Anglers are running neck-and-neck with politicians lately when it comes to telling outright lies, but even through the fog of fakeness, trustworthy sources report that the white bass spawning run is on the go in area rivers.
I was able to triangulate phone/face-to-face reports with social media and my own “research” to determine that both the North and South Bosque rivers are starting to yield some good action, as well as an increasing number of limits (white bass have to be a minimum of 10 inches in length and 25 fish per day, per angler, are allowed).
It’s still called “fishing” and not “catching” – as I remembered on a Saturday morning trip to the South Bosque. I didn’t even get a bite in the 30 minutes I stood on the bank, but an angler across from me cranked in a half dozen and several others walked past me with stringers of anywhere from 3 to 10 fish, some of which were crappie and largemouth bass.
So far, the consensus is that larger, egg-laden female sand bass haven’t made the trip upstream yet, but another round of rainfall teamed with warming water temperatures would likely get them moving.
If you know some kids on Spring Break, this week would be a good time to take them fishing. Success doesn’t take a lot of expensive gear or complicated techniques – some small jigs retrieved at a slow-to-medium rate will do the trick. But it’s a good idea to make sure and have a Plan B in case the fish aren’t biting. Show them how to tie fishing knots, how to collect material for and build a campfire, etc. If they’re under the age of 17, they don’t need a license to fish, and if you were born before Jan. 1, 1931, you don’t need a license, either.
And if you were born before Jan. 1, 1931 and you’re taking some kids fishing this week, give me a call. I want to cover that story in person.