The following is a pass along email from The Traveling Wingshooter.
Chuckar 2012 Forecast by Jillian LaCross
Overall, state wildlife departments were optimistic last year about chukar production and anticipated an above-average year. This season has as much potential for chukar hunters – and probably even more because of the high rate of carryover in nearly every state. But a high carryover means a high proportion of cagey adult birds, which can make the season challenging.
Dave Budeau, Upland Game Bird Coordinator in OREGON, has a sense of this year’s population numbers even though surveys are ongoing: “It appears the expected fall chukar population will be about the same as last year, if not a little better, for most areas.” 2011 saw an increase in the number of chukars harvested, 75,500 to 2010’s 60,850 birds – the best since 2006 and close to Oregon’s 20-year average. “Winter was relatively mild with good overwinter survival,” explains Budeau. “Spring was wet, in places, but not quite as cool as the past two years. June was wetter than average in the western and northern extent, and very dry in late spring and summer in the southeast. Wildfires in the southeast this summer have impacted some chukar hunting areas, but there are millions of acres of public land still available.” Take a look at Oregon’s hunting access map which now includes the user option of overlaying upland gamebird range maps.
Jason Robinson, Upland Game Program Coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources in UTAH, says they’re in the midst of the surveys and so far, reports are mixed. “The harvest last year was slightly below average, but chukar numbers are stable,” says Robinson. “The past winter was extremely mild, which resulted in good overwinter survival. But the spring was hot and dry. The southern half of the state was most affected. Hunting will not be as good in the southern half of Utah. The northern half of Utah fared better, with more production.” If you’re heading to Utah this year, your best bet for good chukar hunting is in the northwest.
You can expect a challenge in NEVADA, where the extremely dry winter and spring conditions have allowed a decent number of adult carryover birds. Shawn Espinosa, Upland Game Staff Specialist, says, “That should provide upland game hunters with a fair experience this season, but this will come with some frustration as coveys will likely rise at long distances.” However, these same conditions have been tough on production: “There are a few areas that experienced better production in the extreme northeastern corner of Nevada, but for the most part, production was a bust.” The department will know more next week once aerial chukar transect surveys are completed.
Reports of good production coming in from around IDAHO indicate a promising fall. There were more birds taken in 2011 compared to 2010 – 21,500 more, which is more than the 2009 harvest. Jeff Knetter, Upland Game and Waterfowl Staff Biologist, says that finding a good spot will vary with the location: “Like many other years, the hunting will vary widely geographically. Spring conditions were favorable across much of Idaho during 2012. Persistent drought conditions could impact brood survival.” Like last year, the Southwest region, where Boise is located, will probably have the highest harvest; and Knetter thinks excellent hunting opportunities will be also found in the Clearwater region (to the north and bordering Washington State) and the Magic Valley region (south-central). The Idaho DNR also has a hunt planner with interactive map available on its website.
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