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Idaho Fish and Game

Check Station Results

The opening of upland bird seasons across southern Idaho was pretty good in most areas, according to Fish and Game field reports. Sage grouse reports will be finalized after wings are collected from wing barrels in the field and counted. In the Southwest Region 319 hunters were checked with 266 sage grouse over the two-day weekend. It took an average of 6.7 hours to bag a bird. Most of this area has a two-bird limit. Three hundred seventy four chukar hunters bagged 271 birds at a rate of seven hours per bird. Two of the four check stations counted quail harvest, with 138 hunters taking 277 quail at a rate of 2.4 hours each. The Magic Valley Region sage grouse harvest data collected at check stations showed a slight downward trend in hours per bird from the past several years. However, biologists think hunting conditions played a larger factor than actual bird numbers in the field. There were numerous reports of large flocks (30+ birds) of sage, especially from hunters working the early morning hours. There was an increase in sage grouse harvest in the West Magic Reservoir and Thorn Creek areas where large fires in the late 80's and early 90's removed most sagebrush cover. The southern part of this region has a one-bird limit. Temperatures for opening weekend were between 90 and 100 degrees within the Magic Valley Region. An example of the extreme temperatures was at the Salmon Falls Dam check station, where there were reports from two separate hunters of dogs dying of heat/dehydration and all check station operators noted dogs showing signs of distress from the heat. Gray partridge and chukar numbers were up over what is usually observed. It appears we had a productive hatch this spring and the prognosis appears good for the fall season. Chukar were taken in the Salmon Falls Creek, Bliss, and Twin Falls County/Owyhee desert areas. The Magic Valley Region reports that so far, it has been an exceptional year for blue and ruff grouse. Hunters working units 43, 44, 45, 48, and 49 all are reporting significant increases over past years. Officers have reported checking more limits of blue and ruffed grouse than they have seen for a number of years. In southeastern Idaho, 25 hunters with two sage grouse were counted on the Curlew National Grasslands. Only one flock of grouse was seen. About 20 wings were counted in the wing barrels, which is about the same as last year. Staff reported that sharptail and gray partridge numbers seem to be down significantly from last year. The Upper Snake Region reported 573 sage grouse hunters checked with 329 birds, taken at an average of 6.6 hours per bird. This region has a one-bird limit. Compliance with the requirement to have a sage/sharptail grouse validation was good. Only nine hunters without the permit were reported in the weekend counts. As of September 22, 8,783 of the $1.50 validations had been issued. Fish and Game will contact the permit holders to get an estimate of hunter numbers and harvest.