Wednesday, September 12, 2018


I try not  let politics get in my way of hunting or this blog but as I'm sitting here watching it spit rain I figure it a good time to explain how I feel about the current bird seasons. Just recently, the F&G sent out a survey to upland hunters with several questions about the current seasons and possibly removing the September opener and adding 15 days in February. Most of you who trade emails with me are from out of state so might not have seen this survey.

I know Jeff Knetter, the bird biologist with the Idaho F&G, and figure he must be getting some pressure from a few upland bird groups to possibly make this change to the season. He's an upland hunter also and knows the current seasons have worked well for us for over 50 years so there must be an outside source asking him for this survey.

The reason I'm writing about this today, more than a month since the survey came out, is because of the weather. It has been very hot and dry for the last two months and now the temperatures have changed and are below normal for this time of the year. In fact, as I mentioned, we're having a little moisture. Because of the forecast I decided to take a quick grouse hunt with the boys this morning. In stead of having a bird bumping day due to the lack of good scent, Grady got his first scent point on a blue grouse and also his first retrieve of an unfrozen bird.

Chukar season opens in 3 days and there is a possibility of some more moisture before then and the temperatures are going to be below normal. There have been many openers I have missed because of the heat but I don't think I will be missing this one. Heat is one of the reasons some mentioned for moving the season back to October. There always seem to be two or three cooler days in September so why not be able to take advantage of them. Another reason suggested was because of the young birds. Normally there are a lot of young covey's this time of the year but you don't have to shoot. There are a lot of bird hunts where you can only shoot the male and you have to choose your shot, we can do the same on these young birds. Rattlesnakes are another reason mentioned. I see more rattlesnakes in October than any other month in the summer. They are moving back to their dens and usually when you find one you can find more. I hunt the early morning hours and try to stay on the shaded north side of the hills where dens and encounters are less likely.

There are many other reasons mentioned for removing the September part of the season. The claim that some hunters sit by a water source and slaughter the birds is questionable to me. I don't think many chukar hunters are out there for the slaughter and it wouldn't matter whether the season opened Sept. 15 or Oct. 1 the opportunity would still present itself  until the birds have been educated. Opening morning is opening morning.

Most of the reasons were selfish reasons just as my reasons are but one thing I do know is that once we give up part of the hunting season it will be hard to ever get it back. Adding 15 days in February is fine with me but don't give up the 15 days or so in September. The extra days would have little impact on the bird population. Personally, I doubt I'd take much advantage of the February hunt due to trying to heal up from all of my January falls on the hill.

Now I'll step down off my high horse and get ready for Saturday. The jury is still out on Grady.  I'm sure he'll be seeing lot's of birds. How he handles them and works with Jake while I'm carrying a gun has me as excited as kid at Christmas. Hopefully he'll do as well on the chukars and huns as he did on this grouse.



Greg said...

Larry: Thanks for informing us out of staters. I am jealous you will be chasing chukars soon while I continue to chase nearly non-existent Montana huns. Oakley still thinks we are hunting meadowlarks. But at least she is hunting meadowlarks enthusiastically.

Unknown said...

I really love your blog. i find myself checking daily for updates. I will be doing my first wild chukar hunt this fall. Have a brttany pup and a broke 6 year old setter. November can't get here fast enough.
Jeff Bennett

Unknown said...

Love the blog. Sadly, the chukar community has to keep pressure on Idaho to change their date. The birds aren’t old enough and have to much of a dependence on water in the early season. You’re an ethical hunter, but some aren’t. And the world can only move as fast as our slowest people.

Greg said...

Sean....I agree that chukars can concentrated on water early and there are some small birds from late hatches. However, unethical hunting in either situation is not going to substantially hurt chukar populations. Such a delay will take away opportunity for the majority while trying to change behavior of a few.

Burk M said...

I've attended F&G Commission meetings in the past when they considered a later opening date. The ID Guides and Outfitters Assoc. always objects and that seems to be the main reason for the mid-Sept. date. They claim the "cast and blast" trips on the Salmon and Snake are only feasible in Sept.. They say after late Sept. the birds climb away from the river and it's too hard to hunt them. I've seen late hatch chukars on opening day that I'd guess were no more that 6 weeks old and even early hatch quail are still pretty tiny in mid Sept.. Figuring out what's a fair opening date is a tough moral/ethical question and the F&G Commission always claims they don't consider the local economy when making their decisions but in this case I don't believe them. I wonder what other state's reasons are for later openings. (I'm a long time reader and first time poster. I really enjoy Larry's observations and insight.)

Troy, Rowdy and Ben said...

Seems as if there are several hunters breaking in new dogs this year....myself included. So Larry, Greg, Jeff, Crider and others with inaugural dog seasons this year;
dont forget to post an update sometime along the way on your new friend’s progress with their bird season. I enjoy the stories. Hope the others do too!

Troy, Rowdy and Ben said...

Oh, and don’t want to forget my old friend Barry P. and his new Llewelyn or Joe G. and his Drahthaar pup.

Chukarhunter50 said...

Oh no, opening day and Another chukar area is burning on brownlee. Planes are bombing just off the river near dennett creek. I cannot pin point it yet.



Virginia Game and fisheries is governed just like Idaho and we had the same issues debated concerning seasons: early are young squealers and late are birds under duress. Hopefully the seasons agree with the biology and benefit the birds. I still want to hunt them; my dogs would miss chasing them. Hope you, Jake and Grady have a great season. Thanks so much for the blog! RON

Unknown said...

Greg, that was one example. I hunt 60 days a year on the NV, OR & ID border. These birds are too young no matter how ethical a hunter is. It’s alarming Idaho hasn’t joined the rest of the western states in their October opening dates. But I couldn’t be happier that this blog and the state of Idaho is starting to raise the question. And in the end, healthy discussion is needed. I’m proud that the state of NV is starting to have discussions about moving the opening date to the 3rd or 4th Saturday in October. All in search of the proper fair chase.

Anonymous said...

I know how hot it can be in September when chukar hunting as I have about 15 lseptember years of Idaho chukar hunts under my belt (or on my boots). Thats when I travel there from the other side of the US.

I have never floated a river to chukar hunt but always hunted them the hard way in September on the steep slopes ; not sure how well my dog could put them from a boat anyway.

If as IDGF has always said, chukar really can't be managed and has said there will be good seasons and bad seasons depending on annual weather conditions and moisture ,then i wonder why IDGF thinks eliminating September hunting will benefit the chukar population in the long run. What is the correlation to maintaining the population by eliminating september? Especially on a species that traditionally has been viewed as not subject to management on the first place?

I would come in October ( and have many seasons in the past) but frankly I have not found the october birds any harder to kill than the September birds . Chukar are chukar. Unless you shoot them off a vehicle they are pretty cagey any time I have run in to them with a dog.

I do not think giving up a period of the season unnecessarily is a good idea, as Larry has suggested. If you are going to give up part of a season then I cannot imagine not taking it out of the season in February, at a time when your breeding base birds have survived . Arguably then you would be taking out the survivor base, the ones with have endured the typical harshest part of the winter. hat doesn't make biological management sense to me. Im anonymous because I do not have a google account. Im not hiding behind anonymity fwiw. Gentleman from Tennesseee

Unknown said...

That’s just the point. It’s giving up a couple more weeks in the start of the season to add extra days on the back. hunting birds from mid-November to end of February isnt the same as a September or October hunt. You’re going to earn your birds as they won’t be on water. Which is fair chase. Again, I believe Idaho should push its date back to second Saturday of October and gain only 1 week in the back end. I do recognize that Idaho has the largest bird population with access to water so the birds are more scattered on the landscape. I agree with Idaho even having the first opener in the west, just not September.

Unknown said...

I agree with moving the season back. It promotes the true tradition of Chukar hunting. Early season promotes driving creeks and water whacking. Not long walks with your best friend. I personally think they are easier to kill with snow on January than October on water, but January doesn’t help a road hunter. I wouldn’t mind if my home state of Nevada did the same and we start the second weekend of October.

If Nevada opened its season tomorrow, I would be out there. But I’m definitely a fan of the later season.

Great blog

Anonymous said...

For an out of state hunter traveling all the way across the country, the September season gives fairly predictable weather. No so in October and later when extended rain periods can make backcountry inaccessible for rental vehicles or traveling hunters with inappropriate back country chains, winches, etc.

I spend a very large amount of money, effort, and planning to travel to idaho, and while in in Idaho to pursue birds in the " finest chukar hunting tradition" as you describe it; what is the harm if I do that in September? Out of state guys can't adjust plane tickets etc without severe $ penalties to suit current weather. Forcing OOS hunters in to October and other unpredictable weather months Result will be less out of state revenue to IDFG for upland birds.

Once big game gun seasons open access to private lands becomes difficult ; not a problem generally in Sept.

Once October arrives many stubble fields are plowed under and fertilized and reseeded; again making access on private lands more difficult, which is not the case in September.

Many private owners do not care to grant hunting permission for other species in september as long as pheasant are not the quarry; not so in October when then more highly valued pheasant access is protected.

There are many regulatory steps available for implementation to limit water hole shooting, or river shooting on public lands in Idaho; implement and enforce those before taking away a portion of the season that is highly attractive and as challenging as any other month in my view.