QUAIL

Quail season in Monroe County is Nov. 16-Feb. 29, but quail, known as the ‘Prince of Gamebirds,’ are now hard to find locally, primarily because of loss of habitat. (Photo/Terry Johnson)

When you stop and think about it, the only two months Monroe hunters cannot legally hunt are June and July. Isn’t that something? It is hard to believe we can enjoy this time-honored tradition throughout most of the year. 

That being said, if you were asked to pick your favorite month to hunt, which would it be? In my case, in the blink of an eye, I would choose November.

There are a couple of reasons why I would pick November. First, I love to hunt in November because the weather is so often ideal. In my eyes, the perfect November day is cool, humidity is low, and skies are often crystal clear and breathtakingly blue. I also enjoy the scent of the fall woods, beautiful red, yellow, and orange fall foliage, as well as the sound made by leaves crunching beneath my hunting boots. To top it off, at some time during the month I can hunt all species of game found in Monroe County with the exception of the wild turkey, fox, bobcat and American woodcock. 

This unbelievable assortment of hunting opportunities is made possible by the fact the seasons for a number of small game species open during November. Here is a list of the seasons that begin this month.

Quail - The season for the bird known as the Prince of the Gamebirds runs from Nov. 16 through Feb. 29. The daily bag limit is 12. Before the white-tailed deer became the most popular game animal in the state, veteran hunters will tell you opening day of the quail season was the most highly anticipated opening day of the entire hunting season.

 Nowadays the popularity of quail hunting has plummeted locally primarily because quail are not nearly as abundant as they once were. One of the prime reasons for the quail’s demise is much of the county’s quail habitat has disappeared. As such, most local quail hunters travel elsewhere to hunt this magnificent game bird.

Rabbit - The rabbit season also extends from Nov. 16 through Feb. 29. Hunters can bag 12 rabbits per day. Nowadays although rabbit populations will often fluctuate from year to year, rabbits are faring better than quail. While few hunting experiences compare with hunting rabbits with a pack of beagles, hunters can also hunt them without the help of dogs.

Crow - The crow season opened Nov. 2 and will close on Feb. 28. There is no limit on the number of crows you take in a day. It should be noted crows can be taken outside the hunting season only when they are causing damage to agricultural crops. While most crow hunters use a call held in the mouth, the use of electronic calls is also legal.

Snipe - Snipe season comes in Nov. 15 and ends Feb. 28. Hunters are allowed to take eight per day. The Wilson’s snipe is a long-billed migratory bird that winters in small numbers in Monroe County. Most of the snipe bagged locally are en route to their wintering grounds in such places as South Georgia and Florida. They are particularly abundant in shallow marshes along the coast. Before the demise of most of the dairy farms in the county, snipe could often be found probing for food in muddy spots created by herds of dairy cows. These days snipe are most often encountered along the muddy shores of farm ponds and the like.

Fortunately, local hunters can hunt small game on public lands a few miles from their home. The Rum Creek Wildlife Management Area offers small game hunting Nov. 2-13 as well as Nov. 17-Feb. 29.

Across the Ocmulgee River in Jones County, hunters can hunt small game on the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge on the following dates: Squirrel - Nov. 10-13 and Nov. 17-Feb. 29; Rabbit - Nov. 17-Feb. 29; Quail - Nov. 29-30, Dec. 13-14, Dec. 27-28, Jan. 17-18, and Jan. 24-25; and raccoon and opossum - Dec. 6-7, Dec. 13-14, Dec. 20-21, Dec. 27-28, Jan. 3-4, Jan. 10-11, Jan. 17-18 and Jan. 24-25.

Keep in mind a refuge permit is required for all hunts. Call the refuge office (478-986-5441 or email piedmont@fws.gov for details.

For more information regarding small game hunting in Georgia, consult the 2019-20 edition of the Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations Guide. This free publication is available at your local license dealer. The guide can also be viewed online at www.GoHuntGeorgia.com.

In closing, please note the following corrections to the printed guide: quail/rabbit opening date - Nov. 16, 2019 and crow season - Nov. 2, 2019-Feb. 28, 2020.

Terry Johnson is retired Program Manager of the Georgia Nongame-Endangered Wildlife Program. He has written the informative column ‘Monroe Outdoors’ for the Reporter for many years. His book, “A Journey to Discovery,” is available at The Reporter. Email him at tjwoodduck@bellsouth.net.