Upland game hunters in Nevada rely heavily on chukar partridge as their species of choice. Even though the Chukar Hunting Forecast, an annual report put out by the Nevada Department of Wildlife comes out in September each year, sportsmen often begin sending emails and making phone calls in late June. Well, you can stop asking now; the Chukar Hunting Forecast is now available and can be found on the NDOW website at ndow.org
Chukar and Hungarian partridge season will open on Oct. 12 and run through Feb. 2, 2014. The hunt is open to both resident and nonresident hunters with limits set at six daily and 18 in possession. Shooting hours are sunrise to sunset.
This year's forecast reports the overall outlook for the 2013-14 chukar season will be poor to fair with a few bright spots. In many traditional chukar hunting areas, hunters will likely experience fewer coveys and smaller covey sizes this year, which will create some frustration. However, hunters may experience better success by moving to an adjacent mountain range if they are not finding birds.
There are certain things in this year’s report that provide at least some optimism, said Shawn Espinosa, upland game biologist at NDOW. "One is that there were young birds noted during surveys. Last year, there were almost no young birds observed. A covey consisting completely of vigilant adult birds is very difficult to get within gun range of. At least the young birds may provide for a better chance for bagging some birds."
Espinosa also reports that quail production in some areas was noted and seemed more profound than chukar production. This will provide additional opportunity. "In addition there are areas that were not surveyed during the aerial survey that have been recognized as having good numbers of birds and production. Portions of Mineral County and eastern Elko County exhibited this," he said.
NDOW began aerial chukar density surveys in 1975 with the use of a helicopter. There are 13 survey plots, or transects, that have been surveyed since then and care is taken to survey these plots in the same fashion each year. These transects are flown in a grid pattern where the aircraft flies up a drainage, fairly close to the ground, and down the adjacent ridge. Biologists record the number of birds observed with care not to "double count" coveys.
An upland game bird stamp is required for anyone age 12 or older, to hunt upland game birds, except turkey and crow. The $10 stamp is available at NDOW offices, authorized license agents statewide throughout Nevada and online at ndowlicensing.com. Funds from the stamp sales are used to support guzzler maintenance and habitat work that benefits upland game bird species.
Espinosa does have some basic advice for sportsmen looking to get out there this chukar season. "One of the best things you can do is get into shape and get your dogs into shape. If you haven't hunted in Nevada before, you might want to go out and look at some spots to hunt and see how things look. Don’t be afraid to try new areas, or travel a bit more to experience other parts of Nevada. You can also talk to big game tag holders and find out what they have been seeing in areas they have been scouting or hunting in to gain information on chukar numbers or production."
The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, and promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW’s wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen’s license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing or combination license. Find us on Facebook, Twitter or visit us at www.ndow.org.