Hunted out of Needles, CA - just north of Lake Havasu City, AZ, Feb 3-7(5 days)
Saw quail everyday around towns, developments, and houses - the bird watchers draw them away from huntable areas with an obsession with feeding them - I don't agree with this practice but it is what it is. Along Alamo Rd towards Wikieup I stopped and talked to a guy riding a mountain bike - he had a house nearby. This area is dotted with homes but really is quite sparsely populated - He says "quail?, they're all around. I have 100+ around my 40 acres, they're loaded in my backyard right now - hate to admit how much we spend on feed for them each year!
Yes, there "probably" are plenty in more remote, huntable areas but the desert is a vast, huge place - it was difficult to overcome the "needle-in-a-haystack" feeling. I did the research on the AZ G & F website before going and took those maps along - tried quite a few of the suggested areas but saw none(while hunting) the first 3 days. Also, tried some areas that guys in gun shops recommended. For example, walked Meadow Creek(2 miles out and 2 miles back) - nothing. But I saw birds around houses just a mile or 2 from this creek. This area is just east of Oatman along Historic Route 66.
Saturday I went to Wickenburg. Finally got into a covey near Congress. Got 1 out of the initial "bust up", then wandered into areas where the singles landed - that was good - after bust up, the singles hold rock solid almost exactly where they land - got 3 while chasing them around for 30 minutes or so. Had some humbling misses in there too! But that 45 minutes was good action.
On Sunday I put up 3-4 west of Wickenburg and got 1. So a total of 5 birds.
Bottom line: Need more time to figure out more specifically where they hang out in remote, huntable areas. Or try a different area - south central?
I've figured out Idaho valley quail - limited out for a week there before going to AZ.
Remeber that the SW is in the grip of a drought so all the quail you see in and around civilization are surviving and will be the seed stock for future years. A couple years of good weather and there will be quail seemingly everywhere.
I'm glad you got into a few covies anyways. I did not make a desert trip this year but if the weather holds up (it's been good so far) I will head that way next season.