Stubble Quail

The Stubble Quail is the only native quail species that can be legally hunted in Victoria.

Approximately 150,000 Stubble Quail are harvested each year, predominantly on private property in stubble paddocks and grasslands. 16 State Game Reserves are open to Stubble Quail hunting.

Stubble Quail season arrangements

The arrangements for the 2024 Stubble Quail hunting season are as follows:

Open season: the season opens on Saturday, 6 April and closes on Sunday, 30 June 2024. Hunting is permitted from 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset throughout the season.

Bag limit: maximum 20 birds per day.

Hunting Methods: shotgun only, not exceeding 12 gauge. Lead shot may be used for the 2024 season. However, we encourage hunters to use non-toxic shot as it is less harmful to the environment and human health. It is proposed that lead shot will be banned for Stubble Quail hunting from 2025.

Gundogs may be used to assist in hunting Stubble Quail.

The use of electronic Stubble Quail callers is prohibited for the 2024 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.

GMA recommendation on the 2024 Quail hunting season.

(Photo provided by Field & Game Australia)

Stubble Quail hunting maps Stubble Quail research Quail hunting education module

FAQs - Electronic quail callers prohibited for the 2024 Stubble Quail season

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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 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) Interim Regulations 2023, which will take into account all the costs and benefits through a process of public consultation.

There are significant penalties for hunters who fail to comply with the law.

The maximum penalty for using an electronic quail caller during the 2024 Stubble Quail season is 25 penalty units (approximately $4,800) 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 2024 Stubble Quail season. The long-term future of their use will be considered in the review of the Wildlife (Game) Interim Regulations 2023, 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.

The GMA will be patrolling both public lands and private properties across Victoria throughout the 2024 Stubble Quail season to ensure compliance with hunting laws.

Hunters and members of the public are urged to report illegal quail hunting to the GMA through the online form or by calling 136 186. If you have immediate concerns for your safety or the safety of others, call 000.

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 hunters being more successful than they would without a quail caller, already skilled 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.

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.

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Stubble Quail (Male)                                                            Stubble Quail (Female)

Plains-wanderer(Female)                                Plains-wanderer(Male)

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.

Non-game quail

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.

Stubble Quail

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.