Illinois Quail Hunting
Hunting wild quail in Illinois, especially in Pike County, has been a tradition that goes back to when settlers first arrived to the area. The native prairie grasses of Illinois are ideal habitat for coveys of wild quail. With the introduction of farming and fence rows providing extra cover, quail flourish in Illinois.
Heartland’s owner, Gary Harpole, grew up hunting quail in these fields at places like “Uncle Lyle’s farm.” These farms were full of overgrown fence rows, grasses and grain fields. Many hunting traditions were created during this time in the Harpole family. The traditional quail hunt began with stopping by the small town grocery store and picking up a loaf of bread, a pound of bologna, and can of soda for lunch. Quail hunting began at daybreak and continued until dark, walking along fence rows, watching pointing dogs lock up, and anticipating the wild flush. Many fond hunting memories were made this way, created with family and friends, and passed down to future generations of quail hunters.
These same traditions (besides the bologna) continue on at Heartland Lodge. Many of the farms we hunt are just like “Uncle Lyle’s farm.” The farms still have the old fence rows, native grasses, and a mixture of food plots and grain fields. This prime habitat ensures that coveys of wild quail are scattered across all of our properties.
Come step back in time with us and continue the tradition of wild quail hunting in Illinois that started here many generations ago.
Click the sections below for more information.
When comparing Illinois quail hunting to Georgia quail hunting, there are not many differences. The tradition in Georgia is to hunt from buggies or jeeps that follow behind pointing dogs. The quail’s habitat is native Georgia grasses mixed with some pines.
Illinois quail hunting is very traditional, much like hunting “Uncle Lyle's farm” when you were young, complete with fence rows, timber edges, and CRP fields. Quail hunts are mostly done behind some type of pointing dog. Since most of Illinois from Central Illinois through the north has both pheasant and quail, you never know what might flush. The anticipation can be very exciting!
The advantage of hunting Illinois for quail is the style of hunting. Hunting behind well-trained pointing dogs on farms like you hunted growing up can only be found in the Midwest. Both Illinois and Georgia have great quail hunting though and if you choose the right location and guide, you should be able to limit out on your quail hunt.
Heartland prides itself on the personalized service it provides to everyone hunting with us. Singles, doubles and small groups are very special to us, as we get to know the hunters on a personal basis. But our offerings aren’t limited to small groups alone. Heartland is equipped to handle larger groups and provide the same exceptional service to each hunter within a larger group. We have plenty of birds, fields, guides and dogs to make Heartland the ideal location for larger groups.
Another advantage to quail hunting in Illinois is the travel. Traveling to Georgia can take a full day or more of your vacation time if you are driving. Getting to Heartland Lodge is very convenient. We are centrally located in the United States, making travel short from any direction. Most of our guests fly into St. Louis, Missouri, and enjoy the scenic drive up the Mississippi River to our lodge.
For more information on our pheasant hunts, go to our main upland bird hunting page or directly to Illinois pheasant hunting. For more information on the other hunting trips that we offer, from whitetail deer to ducks, check out our main Illinois hunting page.
- If possible, warm up with a round of sporting clays. Practice with multi-pairs. This will help you be more successful in the field and better enjoy your hunt.
- When the covey flushes, focus on a single quail at a time. Many hunters don't pick out one bird to shoot and shoot into the entire covey. As a result, they end up missing all the birds.
- Keep your head down on the barrel. Many hunters get distracted with the covey flush and take their head off the barrel.
- Safety is always the most important part of hunting. Keep your safety on your gun until you are next to the dogs on point.
- Keep your gun pointed up at all times until you are ready to mount it on your shoulder.
- Always be aware of your surroundings, especially other hunters and dogs. Avoid shooting any quail that are flying low or close to dogs or hunters.
- Always wear a solid orange hat and vest.
- Be aware what is behind the bird in the background. Vehicles and buildings can be accidently shot if you are not paying attention.
- When shooting single or multiple quail, be sure to mark where the birds land.
- A higher recovery rate happens when you stay in the same spot you shot the birds and direct another hunter or guide with dogs to the location the quail landed.
There are 22 different bobwhite quail subspecies in 38 states in the U.S. and also in Mexico. The males of the species varies much more than the females.
The purpose of the well-known call of the mail quail, “Bob, Bob White”, is to attract a mate and to warn off other males from his territory.
Wild quail mate and nest from late April unitl early October.
During the nesting season, females can produce three successful nests.
Each male bobwhite selects a territory in which to nest. The female is responsible for building a nest located on the ground and lays 12-15 eggs per clutch.
Quail generally locate their nest within 50 feet from the edge of cover.
A hen may lay and incubate a clutch of eggs or she may leave the nest to her mate to incubate. She will then move to another area, select another mate and lay a second or often a third clutch of eggs.
One egg a day is the normal rate for a hen.
47-55 days is the average nesting cycle which inlcudes the site selection and construction.
Males are successful in incubating and even raising a brood without the help from a hen. About 30% of nests are incubated by males.
A chick's survival is equal despite the sex of the adult raising them.
Eight Basic Habitats Quail Need
The preferred nesting area includes, but is not limited to, a mix of erect grasses, forbs, and scattered shrubs or bushes at a moderate density and height.
In a brood area, cover should be dominated by plants that are well spaced and have sturdy stems and little vegetation near the ground. Overhead foliage must be dense enough to provide sufficient cover for chicks and adults, protecting them from predators.
Spring and Summer: Some weed seeds and plant greens are eaten. Insects, being higher in protein, are eaten and provide 80-95% of a chick’s diet within the first few weeks.
Fall and Winter: Perennial forbs, fruit bearing woody plants, grass seed, ponic, crab and foxtail grasses, the seed from oak and hickory trees, and the leftover grain from farm fields provide the largest portion of nutrition for quail.
Roosting is probably the only quail activity that does not require dense overhead cover. Research shows that quail use crop fields, grasslands, and old fields for roosting. Quail will roost on bare soil and vegetation litter such as old leaves, grass, etc. They also prefer mid-slope or lower elevation for roosting.
The escape area includes a thicket of trees, blackberry and other bushes, and vines. Piles of brush, tree tops and heavily planted food plots also provide a good escape area.
Any bare soil or soil disturbance, such as cattle paths, ant hills, watering holes, roads and trails, is where you will see most quail dusting themselves.
This is the area that the quail will gather usually in mid-day. Covey headquarters can be in any of the above areas.
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