We derived consequences (realizations of hunter efficiency, relative harvest rates) of fixed, liberal quail (northern bobwhite [Colinus virginianus], Gambel's quail [Callipepla gambelii], and scaled quail [C. squamata]) harvest regulations applied at large scales from time series on quail abundance, total harvest, and hunter participation. Data came from Kansas (1966–2001), Missouri (1983–2001), Oklahoma (1990–2001), north and south Texas (1986–2001), and Arizona (1982–1999), USA, where harvest regulations were liberal (season length 2.5–4 months, daily bag limit 8–15 birds) during the periods of record. For all study regions, hunter-days were expressible as a linear function of quail abundance, and total harvest was expressible as a linear function of hunter-days. These results implied that hunter efficiency (harvest/hunter-day/index bird) declined monotonically and curvilinearly as quail populations increased. Likewise, relative harvest rate declined monotonically and curvilinearly as abundance increased, which implied that harvest was not self-limiting; however, the rate of decline generally was low because harvest rate was the product of an increasing (hunter-days) and a decreasing function (hunter efficiency) of quail abundance. Under fixed, liberal regulations, variations in quail abundance seem to govern harvest rates at the state or regional level; the regulations per se probably are biologically inconsequential.
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Vol. 68 • No. 4