Having a reasonable idea of the quail's whereabouts is obviously a good starting point, but these little birds can make themselves scarce when they so choose, therefore having the ability to mimic their sounds is a crafty way of luring them out into the open. Possessing a quail call is one thing, however knowing how to call quails and just as importantly when, is very much another and it’s of massive significance.
Quail calling is similar to many other game birds and actually has one of the best records for positive results. Initially the ideal scenario is to identify an area where perhaps 2 or 3 coveys may have gathered. Certain species such as the Gambel respond more readily to calls than others, for example the scaled quail is particularly less responsive and will take more coaxing.
The birds will react to distress calls, but also they do seem to have general chatter too. – It is vital for a hunter to be able to recognize the difference in tones and sounds, which might be very subtle, yet mean completely different things to the birds. Each of the species has one distinctive call, but they are all pretty much a variation on a basic "cluck". These usually are delivered in a series of at least 3 renditions, possibly up to as many as 7 or 8 in one burst.
It can be a case of patience being a virtue, as when the quail calling begins there may well be a degree of trust needed to be built up before the quail will show itself. The replies will get more frequent and progressively louder. They will eventually answer though and it is important not to be trigger happy, the birds will come a certain way out initially and many make the mistake of taking an early pop at them, risking a miss and scattering the covey out of the area. Delay for a fraction can make all the difference, with a much clearer shot quickly coming into view.
It is worth noting that quails do not call as often when the weather is damp or even overcast. If a hunter is on a scouting mission the tip is to call approximately every half a mile or so, and stay around that specific spot for at least 5 minutes before moving forward. If just a single bird responds then mark the spot but continue in search of a greater pocket.
Quail calling is a something that can be undertaken by any hunter, and whilst there is an element of skill involved, on the whole it is a case of practice makes perfect. The idea is to split a pack and, when this is achieved, it is important to get the pitch of the calling just right to sound like a young and slightly frantic bird. Carry this out correctly and the chances are very good that a boss male will respond and expose itself for a clear hit.