2016 Upland Game Bird Population Trends – Southwest Region

2016 Conditions – Great production during 2015 followed by short winter and early spring 2016 were favorable for upland birds. Carryover should be high.  Spring and early summer conditions during 2016 were  good for production. Most species are up compared to 2015. Quail and chukar had very good production this year.  There have been reports of good-sized chukar broods near the Bruneau and East Fork Owyhee Rivers, the hills above Emmett, Andrus WMA, and Lucky Peak Reservoir.  Although overall pheasant numbers are down, large broods were observed along established brood routes.  Upland bird hunting should be good to great across the Region this year.

Upland Game Bird Trend from last year
10-Year Trend
Pheasant Stable Down

Pheasants should have over-wintered well following good to excellent production during 2015. Favorable spring precipitation  likely contributed to good hatch during 2016. Pheasant hunting should be good around the valley during 2016.

Greater Sage-grouse

Up Up

Males counted on lek surveys in 2016 increased in most of Owyhee County.  Favorable spring moisture and early forb production means hens came into spring in good body condition, which translates to good nest success and brood survival. Hunters can expect to find good numbers of grouse near water sources. Popular hunting spots include the area around Big Springs, Riddle, Cow Creek, and Antelope Ridge Road.

Chukar Up Up

Chukar hunting should be good to excellent this year.  Chukar populations have been on the rebound during the past 5 years and favorable spring and winter conditions should translate into good chick production.  Andrus WMA, Owyhee Front, South Fork Boise River, and Owyhee Canyonlands are popular places to hunt chukars.

Gray Partridge Stable Stable

Gray partridge numbers have been good during the past three years and should continue to be good during 2016.  Hunters can expect to find gray partridge in the uplands near agricultural fields and in sagebrush/mountain brush near water sources.    Good hunting can be found in Gem, Washington, and Adams counties.

California Quail Up Stable

Quail production was excellent in both 2015 and 2016.  Quail should have overwintered well in the valley and hunting should be good to excellent this year across the Treasure Valley and west central areas. Quail cab be found  in areas with  green-leafy shrubs, forbs, and berries near perennial water sources. 

Mourning Dove Up Up

Dove production appears to be very good with a lot of young birds observed.  Favorable winter and early spring also translate to good carryover from 2015. Dove season runs through October 30. Daily bag limit is 15 and possession limit is 45.

Forest Grouse (Dusky, Ruffed, Spruce) Stable Stable

The Pioneer Fire may affect early season forest grouse hunting around Pilot Peak, Edna Creek, Clear Creek, and Scott Mountain Road.  However, there is still excellent opportunity for ruffed grouse hunting in GMU 32/32A up along the Squaw Creek drainages/Sagehen Reservoir.  Dusky grouse can be found in the transition zone between sagebrush and mountain shrub communities and open slopes in pine forests (GMU 22 and 31 have good Dusky grouse opportunity).  There is also excellent dusky and ruffed grouse opportunity along the South Fork Boise River above Featherville, and the Trinity area. Spruce grouse can be found in areas dominated by Douglas fir and spruce forests in the area around Bear Valley. Forest grouse hunting should be good this year thanks to a favorable, wet spring.

Editorial note: A previous version omitted the right information for mourning doves in this region. It has been corrected above. Thank you for the report.