The Stubble Quail is the only native quail species that can be legally hunted in Victoria.
Approximately 175,000 Stubble Quail are harvested each year predominantly on private property in stubble paddocks and grasslands, however, 16 State Game Reserves are open to Stubble Quail hunting.
The Victorian Government announced the following arrangements for the 2023 Stubble Quail hunting season.
Open season: from Wednesday, 26 April and close on Tuesday, 30 May 2023. Hunting is permitted from 8:00am until 30 minutes after sunset for the whole of the season.
Bag limit: maximum 20 birds per day.
Hunting Method: shotgun only, not exceeding 12 gauge. Lead shot may be used. However, we encourage hunters to use non-toxic shot as it is less harmful to the environment. Gundogs may also be used to hunt Stubble Quail.
Use of electronic Stubble Quail callers is prohibited for the 2023 Stubble Quail season. Please see FAQs below.
For more information about the current season and where you can hunt see the Stubble Quail fact sheet.
(Photo provided by Field & Game Australia)
Stubble Quail (Male) Stubble Quail (Female)
Stubble Quail (Coturnix pectoralis)
All native quail species are protected in Victoria and, with the exception of Stubble Quail may not be hunted.
Stubble Quail have a dark brown colouration with pale buff markings. The centre of each feather has a cream stripe, giving the feathers a streaked appearance. The adult Stubble Quail is 18 to 18.5cm in length, with the female slightly larger than the male.
When hunting, you may encounter several other quail species that could be mistaken for the Stubble Quail. Those most commonly encountered include: Brown Quail; King Quail; Painted Button Quail; and Little Button Quail. These birds are protected all year and may not be hunted.
Distinguishing between Stubble Quail and non-game quail
It is important that hunters can readily distinguish between Stubble Quail and protected quail species while hunting. You should pay particular attention to: the size and flight characteristics of the bird; the habitat that you are hunting in; and the social organisation of the birds. Below is a general description that can be used by hunters as a guide to recognising the differences between the Stubble Quail and non-game quail species. Remember, if you are not sure, DON'T SHOOT.
Non-game quail-like birds
Large, plump bird (compared to other native quail species).
Generally smaller than Stubble Quail (except Brown Quail which is slightly larger).
Bold, pale streaks on shoulder, back and breast.
Uniformly darker wings (King, Brown, Little Button).
Prefer open grasslands (improved and natural), cereal crops, stubble, lucerne and often found along weedy margins of irrigation channels. Avoid woodlands or areas with many trees.
Found across a range of habitat types including: woodlands; rank, dense grasslands; swampy coastal heaths; bracken; scrublands; grassy forests.
Mostly found singly or in pairs and, occasionally, small groups.
Often found in small groups or coveys (Brown Quail may be found in groups of up to thirty birds).
Never vocalise (call) when flushed.
Often chirp or chatter when flushed.
Loud whirring of wings when flushed. Fly with fast wing beats and may travel as far as 500 metres.
Quieter wing beats, not as rapid. Often fly only a short distance.
Never glide when flying. Curved flight before dropping tail-down into cover.
Glide in flight (Brown, King) may drop head-first into cover (Brown).
Page last updated: 18 Sep 2019
Hunters can only use shotguns that do not exceed twelve (12) gauge to hunt Stubble Quail.
Lead shot may be used. However, we encourage hunters to use non-toxic shot as it is less harmful to the environment.
Well trained gundogs are an effective way to hunt for Stubble Quail. Visit, Hunting game birds and deer with dogs for more information.
FAQs - Electronic quail callers prohibited for 2023 Stubble Quail season
Quail caller - Gazette
The GMA commissioned research into the effectiveness of electronic quail callers, in response to concerns from the hunting community that the use of quail callers was not consistent with the concept of ‘fair chase’.
The research found that their use significantly increased the abundance/density of quail in the vicinity of the activated caller. The research also showed electronic quail callers concentrated Stubble Quail into a very localised area around the caller.
Given these results, if their use becomes widespread, this may run the risk of the species being overharvested.
The long-term use of these devices will be considered in more detail during the review of the Wildlife (Game) Regulations which will take into account all the costs and benefits through a process of public consultation.
Results of the research were not confirmed until earlier this year. The GMA Board considered the results and implications for use and considered that it was appropriate to suspend them until the current review of the Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012 was completed. The review will consider the costs and benefits of allowing their use, including ethical considerations and the potential for overharvesting if their use became widespread.
There are significant penalties for hunters who fail to comply with the law.
The maximum penalty for using an electronic quail caller during the 2023 Stubble Quail season is 25 penalty units (approximately $4,543) and offenders will be required to appear before the courts. If found guilty, offenders could receive a fine and lose their Game and/or Firearms licences.
The suspension of the use of quail callers only applies to the 2023 Stubble Quail season. The long-term future of their use will be considered in the review of the Wildlife (Game) Regulations 2012, where the costs and benefits can be fully explored.
The review of the regulations involves a process of public consultation and hunters who have purchased these devices are encouraged to provide input into the consultation process.
What is the GMA doing to ensure that electronic quail callers are not being used for the 2023 Stubble Quail season?
The GMA will be patrolling both public lands and private properties across Victoria throughout the 2023 Stubble Quail season to ensure compliance with hunting laws.
Hunters and members of the public are urged to report any suspected illegal hunting activity to the GMA via its website www.gma.vic.gov.au or by calling 136 186. Urgent matters should be referred to Victoria Police.
Given how effective quail callers are, their use could pose the risk of overharvesting if it became widespread. Quail callers could contribute to less skilled/equipped hunters being more successful than they would without a quail caller, already skilled and equipped hunters may achieve a higher harvest and some hunters may be encouraged to exceed the current legal daily bag limit. Any of these outcomes could contribute to excessive harvesting.
As we have limited data on the Stubble Quail population in Victoria, any increase to harvest levels as a result of quail callers could lead to overharvesting. Research is currently under way to estimate the size of Victoria’s Stubble Quail population.
Electronic callers have been banned in many parts of the world for hunting gamebirds due to the risk they pose to overharvesting, in addition to being inconsistent with ‘fair chase’ hunting.