Hunters can help MSU with quail research project

Published 8:40 am Tuesday, December 19, 2023

BARLOW — Local quail hunters are needed to help Mississippi State University researchers and MDWFP evaluate quail management at Copiah County Wildlife Management Area and other state lands. All hunters have to do is fill out a survey after each hunt. 

MDWFP and Mississippi State University are currently conducting a cooperative research project evaluating quail population response to habitat management and surrounding land use and composition around five Wildlife Management Areas across Mississippi (Black Prairie, Charles Ray Nix, Copiah County, Divide Section, and Marion County WMAs). The survey is not limited to those five WMAs, but Copiah County and the other four WMAs are intensively managed for quail. Small Game Biologist Rick Hamrick said quail are not the only focus of the survey. MSU is collecting call counts for several songbird species including Prairie Warblers, Bachman Sparrows and Field Sparrows. 

“We added the hunter survey to gather more information from willing hunters about how many birds they saw on a hunt and their perception of hunting quality and mesh it with ongoing population surveys,” Hamrick said. “We hope to gather more than the typical check out stuff and get more information. The online survey has additional WMAs outside of our five focus areas.” 

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Hamrick said they would like to get to a point where hunters could gather information on private land hunts. 

MSU’s research project will map the habitat types in a five mile radius around the WMA and determine how the landscape influences quail. Another question the research project hopes to answer is how early successional habitat contributes to populations in the immediate area and potentially surrounding private lands adjacent to the WMAs.  

This survey is voluntary and anonymous and the MDWFP or MSU are not asking for any personal information. They are asking that one survey be completed for a hunting party (if more than one hunter) each time you hunt a WMA.

There are two way to take the survey:

  1. Click here to take the Bobwhite Quail Hunting Survey
  2. Take the survey on the MDWFP App:
    • Download the MDWFP App
    • Click the “Field Guide” button
    • At the bottom of the list, select “Bobwhite Quail Hunting Survey”

This survey ends on March 5, 2024

Getting involved

Other ways quail hunters, land managers and wildlife enthusiasts can help research and management efforts is by participating in the Bobscapes survey. The phone application allows people to enter GPS coordinates and other information about how many quail they heard or saw on a property.

Mississippi is fourth in the nation for Bobwhite Quail reports in the survey with 126. Missouri is first with 258 reports, Georgia is second with 236 reports and Kansas is third with 153 reports. Bobscapes is a great way for citizens to be involved in science.

Landowners, managers and hunters can shape the habitat for quail on private lands by managing for early successional habitat. The habitat type favored by quail and rabbits can be a benefit to turkeys and deer. 

One way to help quail quickly in an area where you don’t have much cover is to fell a tree top for quail to hide under. Vines will eventually grow over the tree top providing additional cover. Brush piles can be an option and have their place but they can also be a home to raccoons and snakes which threaten young quail and turkeys. 

Hamrick said brush piles are generally more for rabbits. One way to maintain early successional habitat is by splitting a field into several burn blocks and burning them in different years to provide a variety of cover types. Another way to maintain early successional habitat is to keep shrub growth cut back. 

“Don’t watch the brush patches grow into trees because then they are beyond habitat for quail. Some classic shrub cover types are plum and sumac patches,” Hamrick said. “Those too can benefit from being cut back. Quail lean more towards thicket and brush stuff.” 

For more information about how you can manage habitat for quail visit the quail program at