Arizona stands distinguished as a preeminent locale for quail hunting in the United States. The state’s diverse topography and climate form an optimal environment for four distinct quail species—namely, Gambel’s quail, scaled quail, mountain quail, and the exclusive Arizona variation of Montezuma quail. Spanning extensive public lands and numerous private ranches open to hunters, Arizona offers a plethora of quail hunting opportunities. Nevertheless, certain regions surpass others in terms of desirability.
This article endeavors to spotlight the ten most commendable grounds for Arizona quail hunting, guided by considerations such as quail population statistics, habitat excellence, and accessibility for hunters. Whether seeking proximity to the Phoenix metropolitan area or an expedition into the remote expanses of the state, this compilation aims to provide a selection of superior quail hunting destinations tailored to diverse preferences. Let’s commence our exploration with a focus on the southwestern quadrant of the state.
Best Places to Hunt Quail in Arizona
West Kofa Mountains – Yuma County
Arizona quail hunting: Positioned just east of Yuma along the California border, the West Kofa Mountains present a spectacular terrain for quail hunting within reasonable reach of major population centers like Phoenix and San Diego. The rugged mountainous landscape seamlessly transitions into expansive desert plains dominated by creosote bushes, ocotillo, paloverde trees, and cholla cacti. This diverse habitat sustains sizable coveys of Gambel’s quail alongside scaled quail.
The Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, encompassing over 500,000 acres, emerges as a prime public hunting ground within the Kofas. Noteworthy locations include the foothills near Hidden Spring, Upper Devil’s Canyon, and stretches along roads like Highway 95 east of Ogilby. Expect some hiking as you scout for avian prey. Obtain hunting permits and season details directly from the refuge, complementing them with a valid Arizona hunting license.
In the West Kofas, various expansive ranches such as Tabletop Ranch, Tyson Wells Ranch, and Yuma Proving Ground provide access to exceptional quail hunting, either through guided hunts or do-it-yourself opportunities amidst pristine quail habitat. Stringent regulations in designated shotgun-only zones ensure responsible bird management. The mild temperatures of fall and winter establish these seasons as optimal for hunting. For availability and fees, direct inquiries to the respective ranches.
The high country of Yuma County, enriched by the Kofa refuge, adjacent public lands, and premium private enterprises, epitomizes the pinnacle of Arizona quail hunting. The West Kofa Mountains stand as an authentic gem in the southwestern tapestry, offering a harmonious blend of exceptional birds, breathtaking scenery, and convenient access.
Dateland – Yuma County
Arizona quail hunting: Merely an hour’s drive north of Yuma, the expansive plains encircling the diminutive town of Dateland unfold as an exceptional arena for scaled Arizona quail hunting. Vast stretches adorned with creosote, bursae, triangle-leaf burgage, and ironwood trees serve as ideal cover and sustenance for these diminutive desert-dwelling quail.
Among the top public domains for scaled quail hunting near Dateland are the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge along Highway 95 and the Papago Farms Wildlife Area just west of the town. Both locales offer vast acreages for walking or driving hunts in the prime territory for scaled quail.
Glassing for coveys from vehicles while scouting in the early morning or late afternoon is a recommended approach. Contact the respective areas for information on seasons and regulations, with the refuge requiring a permit.
Furthermore, Dateland boasts several expansive private ranches, including Goulding’s Cattle Ranch, Rim Rock Ranch, and Lizard Acres Ranch, offering guided quail hunts amidst pristine scaled quail habitat. These establishments diligently monitor quail populations, extending high-quality do-it-yourself access. The combination of superb birds, mild winter weather, and accessibility to both public and private lands positions scaled quail hunting in the plains around Dateland among the foremost experiences in the state, marking it as a prime destination in southwestern Arizona.
Imperial NWR – Yuma and La Paz Counties
Arizona quail hunting: Encompassing over 100,000 acres along the Colorado River, extending from Yuma to La Paz County, the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge stands as a haven for both scaled and Gambel’s quail hunters. Diverse habitats, ranging from creosote flats and mesquite woodlands to wetlands and agricultural fields, provide an optimal setting for these desert-dwelling quail.
The Imperial NWR facilitates free downloadable permits for driving or walking hunts across most areas of the refuge from November to mid-January, coinciding with the open season for both scaled and Gambel’s quail. Numerous coveys can be located along refuge roads, with foot scouting proving productive.
Visitors are advised to carry water and dress appropriately for mild winter temperatures. The refuge also serves as an excellent location for glassing quail and small game from vehicles during the summer months when hunting is restricted. For comprehensive season dates, maps, and other pertinent information, contact the refuge.
Adjacent public lands such as Kofa NWR and private ranches like Welton Mohawk Ranch further extend opportunities for exceptional scaled and Gambel’s quail hunting. The Imperial Valley, with its varied landscape, establishes itself as the quintessential winter quail hunting terrain, and the Imperial Refuge stands out as a crown jewel in the panorama of southwestern Arizona bird hunting.
Vekol Valley – Arizona Quail Hunting
Arizona quail hunting: Northeast of Yuma, situated between Yuma Proving Ground and Kofa NWR, lies the expansive high desert known as the Vekol Valley. Diverse terrains, including rolling foothills, granite outcroppings, sandy washes, and extensive creosote flats, provide an outstanding habitat conducive to all four Arizona quail hunting species.
The primary public access point for Vekol Valley quail hunting is the Kofa NWR, where a free permit is required. Key areas for scouting coveys of Gambel’s, scaled, and occasional mountain quail include Vekol Road, South Plains, and Pipeline Canyon from mid-November through January. Expect a fair amount of walking and glassing during these expeditions.
Several premier private ranches, such as Vekol Ranch, Smith Ranch, and Goulding’s Cattle Ranch, lease land in the Vekol Valley for quail hunting. Guided and do-it-yourself opportunities may align with the seasons, typically from late fall through early spring.
The Vekol Valley epitomizes the classic Southwest quail hunting experience with its expansive open spaces and diverse terrains. This region, characterized by exceptional birds and picturesque landscapes, stands as a compelling destination northeast of Yuma.
Aravaipa Valley – Pinal and Graham Counties
Arizona quail hunting: Nestled in the elevated mountainous terrain of southeastern Arizona along the Gila River, the remote Aravaipa Valley is renowned as a premier location for Montezuma quail hunting. Extensive areas covered in oak, sycamore, and scrubby undergrowth create an ideal haven for these elusive quail.
Key public access points for do-it-yourself Montezuma hunting include the Coronado and Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness areas managed by the USFS. Hunting is permitted through special use permits issued annually, with details available from local ranger stations.
The Aravaipa Land and Water Trust also facilitates public access to thousands of acres of prime Montezuma habitat along Aravaipa Creek through its partners program, supported by reasonable hunting fees that contribute to land conservation efforts.
For those seeking guided experiences, the renowned Aravaipa Canyon Preserve offers exceptional guided Montezuma hunts into remote valley areas between November and mid-April. Note that hunting is restricted to shotguns only.
The rugged Aravaipa Valley, with minimal hunting activity, promises an authentic frontier experience while pursuing Montezumas amid the stunning canyon country scenery. It stands as a requisite inclusion on the bucket list of any serious Arizona quail hunter.
Pleasant Valley – Pinal County
Arizona quail hunting: Approximately an hour southeast of Phoenix lies Pleasant Valley, a region offering exceptional opportunities for Gambel’s and scaled quail hunting on both public and private lands. The undulating terrain, adorned with burgage and paloverde-dotted hills, transitions seamlessly into expansive creosote flats—a perfect habitat for these desert quail species.
Key public areas encompass the Lost Canyon allotment of the Sonoran Desert National Monument, open for do-it-yourself quail hunting from November through the end of January, requiring a free permit. Additional areas worth considering include Semans Rocks off Highway 77 and the Pleasant Valley Wildlife Area south of Eloy.
Expect extensive glassing and walking efforts, as quail coveys cover vast distances over the open terrain. Early mornings typically yield the most productive hunting experiences.
Moreover, private ranches like Flying M Ranch, Circle Z Cattle Ranch, and C-R Ranch present opportunities for quality guided quail hunts, aligning with seasons, usually from November through the end of winter. These establishments, known for exceptional birds and hospitality, warrant serious consideration.
With abundant public opportunities and premium private access, Pleasant Valley stands out as a world-class destination for Gambel’s and scaled quail hunting, all within an hour’s drive from the Phoenix metropolitan area. The scenic desert valleys add an extra layer of beauty to the overall experience.
House rock Valley – La Paz and Yuma Counties
Arizona quail hunting: Situated along the Colorado River southeast of Quartzsite, the expansive Houserock Valley offers outstanding scaled quail hunting amidst breathtaking desert grandeur. The northern extent of the valley merges seamlessly into the Kofa NWR. The valley’s broad sandy flats and hills adorned with boulders and trees create a captivating backdrop.