The Case of the Vanishing Quail
From Garden & Gun, Oct.–Nov. 2015
No one could explain why the birds disappeared from the Rolling Plains of West Texas. It was the autumn of 2010, and for the past thirty years that Rick Snipes had hunted there, the twenty-four million acres of grasslands boasted, without question, one of the state’s most abundant populations of wild bobwhite quail. He could cross the prairie on horseback and, cresting a ridge, know that birds awaited him as far as he could see; his dogs regularly pointed thirty coveys before lunch. “I have a buddy who called it the Augusta National of quail hunting,” says Snipes, a rancher and the president of the Rolling Plains Quail Research Foundation, a nonprofit conservation group based outside of Abilene. But after a summer that seemed to signal good hunting come fall, the birds were gone. “It was pretty damn drastic,” Snipes says. “On my ranch, we had an estimated six thousand birds in July; by November, we had about one thousand.”
Read the full piece here.