Cover Selection by Northern Bobwhites and Hunters on a Public-hunting Area

Strength of the correlation between cover selection indices for hunters and quarry may provide information for improving hunter satisfaction and managing hunting pressure. Using radiotelemetry, we studied northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) cover selection on the Packsaddle Wildlife Management Area in western Oklahoma, during Oct-Feb periods beginning in 1991-92 and extending through 2001-02. Hunter locations were recorded by Global Position System (GPS) units for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 hunting seasons to determine hunter cover selection. Avoidance, neutral use, or selection of cover types by bobwhites was relatively consistent among years because 27 of 32 cover types had annual indices similar (P > 0.05) to the 11-year mean in ≥9 years. This yearly consistency provided support for our comparison of bobwhite to hunter selection indices recorded in separate years. The 11-year mean of cover selection indices for bobwhites was positively correlated with cover selection indices of hunters (r = 0.45, P = 0.01, n = 32 cover types). Hunters avoided shinnery oak (Quercus havardii)-little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) on gradients ≥3% at distances of 500-1,500 m from roads whereas bobwhites strongly selected for this type. Hunter success on our study area may be increased by improving access to bobwhite-selected cover types, reducing access to bobwhite-avoided types, and educating hunters on the nature and location of bobwhite-selected types.

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