These birds have a mottled brown appearance, the males also sporting a black hood and stripe through their eye. (The rest of their head is a bright white color.) The most populous type of quail, these birds grow close to a foot in length and weigh over 5 oz.
Closely related to California and scaled quail, these birds are found in the eastern US and parts of Mexico. They are an extremely versatile bird – they can live in hot, dry climates or cold, snowy ones and can eat as many as 600 different types of food, primarily seeds, weeds, grains and berries.
Bobwhites follow the same eating pattern as other upland birds, eating in the morning, gathering gravel and loafing in heavy, secluded cover in the afternoon and eating again later in the day. (They are late risers, though, often waiting until midmorning to leave their roost to feed.)
Starvation or freezing to death can occur if there is too much snow and they can often be found near water supplies or freshly harvested fields. These birds tend to freeze when they see danger and fly erratically once flushed, just like the mourning dove and woodcock. They don’t fly far once flushed, usually only a couple hundred yards, so it is possible to flush them multiple times.
Pointing dogs are a necessity for quail hunting because they allow the hunter to get into range for a shot before the birds flush. Once they do flush, it’s a scattered, hectic mess in the sky, so it’s best to isolate one or two birds to take a shot rather than shooting at the flock. (Also look out for stragglers who hold tight until the initial excitement is finished and then flush.)
Another good technique to use for all quail is the walk and wait one – walk a couple feet to a suspicious-looking clump of cover and then wait for a half a minute before moving on again. If there are birds in the cover, your waiting will make them nervous and probably cause them to flush.
Most hunters prefer to use a 20-gauge shotgun with size 8 field loads when hunting bobwhites.