Quail season opens October 19

Tree Squirrel, band-tailed pigeon seasons begin today

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) reminds Arizona’s bird hunters that the general season for Gambel’s, scaled and California quail begins Friday, Oct. 19.

The department has received several inquiries from hunters who have become accustomed to an earlier start to the quail season, one that traditionally has coincided with the opening of the general tree squirrel season, which gets underway tomorrow, Oct. 5.

This year marks the first time that the beginning of the quail season has been pushed forward two weeks. The change was made after survey results indicated that hunters, particularly those who use dogs, preferred a later start to avoid higher temperatures and rattlesnake encounters.

Arizona’s small game seasons are in full swing. In addition to the start of the tree squirrel and band-tailed pigeon seasons tomorrow, hunters can pursue dusky (blue) grouse through Nov. 11 and chukar until Feb. 10, 2019. The season for cottontail rabbit runs through June 30, 2019, and the start of the “late” dove season is only a few weeks away (Nov. 23).

Need a license? Then consider buying more than just an individual hunting license. Go online and purchase a combo hunt and fish license that will be valid for the next 365 days – and for only $20 more (for state residents) than the price of an individual hunting or fishing license. Visit https://www.azgfd.com/bestofbothworlds/ to get a combo hunt and fish license today. As a reminder, a youth combo hunt and fish license (ages 10 to 17) remains $5.

As a reminder, AZGFD still is accepting registration for hunters to participate in the Arizona Small Game Challenge, a new concept created in partnership with the Valley of the Sun Chapter of Quail Forever that highlights the state’s abundance of small game hunting opportunities.

Every $25 registration will be matched, dollar for dollar, by the Valley of the Sun Chapter of Quail Forever to benefit small game species through habitat improvements such as grassland restoration, planting crops for wildlife and water source development.

The Arizona Small Game Challenge is comprised of four individual challenges:

Desert (harvest five of seven): mourning dove, white-winged dove, Eurasian collared-dove, cottontail rabbit, Gambel’s quail, Mearns’ quail, scaled quail.

Mountain (harvest five of seven): Dusky (blue) grouse, chukar, band-tailed pigeon, cottontail rabbit, tree squirrel (Kaibab, Red, Abert’s).

Native Quail: Gambel’s quail, Mearns’ quail, scaled quail.

Upland Bird: Dusky (blue) grouse, chukar, Gambel’s quail, Mearns’ quail, scaled quail.

A hunter who completes his or her first challenge will receive a plaque that includes an engraving plate to mark the achievement. The plaque comes with space for additional engraving plates as a hunter completes one of the remaining challenges each hunting season.

The first step is to register at https://www.azgfd.com/hunting/species/smallgame/challenge-info/. The registration fee is $25 per challenge (a hunter is eligible for only one challenge per year). Then go hunting in accordance with all legal requirements, including season dates.

Be sure to take a time-stamped photograph of each species harvested for a particular challenge, then visit the website and fill out the verification form to certify the completion of that challenge. All photographs and the completed verification form should be emailed to: wzarlingo@azgfd.gov, or mailed to: Arizona Game and Fish Department, Small Game Program Manager, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, AZ, 85086. Photographs will not be returned.