California Quail

Southern Quail

Any part of Southern California is a fine place to be in December and January, but we recommend the Mojave Desert region, where you can bag California, mountain, and Gambel's quail, and chukar partridge-all in the same trip on more than 7 million acres of public land.

Good rainfall this spring has brought quail and chukar numbers up considerably in both the east and west Mojave Desert regions, according to Andy Pauli, wildlife biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. "I counted more than 400 quail in two days at a water hole this spring. So the birds are here." And the bird hunters should have their best season in years.

Hotspots: Look for California quail along the Mojave River valley near Victorville and in the Granite Mountains, north of State Highway 18. For mountain quail, work the BLM lands south of Lucerne Valley, as well as the northern edge of the San Bernardino National Forest. And for chukars, try around Ord Mountain and Goat Spring near State Highway 247, as well as the Lucerne Valley, Barstow, and Apple Valley areas. Finally, you can find good hunting for Gambel's quail along the eastern slope of the San Bernardino National Forest near Yucca Valley. But they are most abundant and evenly distributed in the eastern part of Mojave. Try the area near the Hole-in-the-Wall Campground and Soshea Pass, just north of Interstate 40, about 100 miles east of Barstow.

Insider Tip: "Concentrate on water sources for quail," Pauli says. "Use a quail call to locate birds, or just park your vehicle and listen for them calling, especially in mornings and evenings. For chukars, focus on slopes with cheatgrass and filaree, and be willing to expend some boot leather."

Season dates: For both quail and chukar, Oct. 18¿¿¿Jan. 25.