Upland Bird Season Kicks Off in September
by Gary Lewis
It begins in the spring. You hear a quail call or hear the chukar cackle from the rimrock and your thoughts turn to the birds you will hunt in September, October, November and beyond.
Early in the year, the hard rains take on a new meaning. Welcome in April and May to encourage grasses and wildflowers and insects which feed the young; unwelcome in June when chukar and quail watch over fragile clutches of eggs.
If you’re looking for opportunities to spend more time in your upland bird vest and hunting boots this year, you’re in luck. The 2008 Oregon Game Bird Regulations are on the shelf and the pages are packed with possibility.
While dove hunting opens September 1, by the time you read this W.U. will have closed most or all dove hunting ranches to reduce overall hunter pressure. Historically, we get a low pressure system that sends the birds south.
Coming on the heels of last year’s chukar hunt, more than a few of us are looking forward to good news and more time afield this season.
2005 was Oregon’s best chukar season in the last 15 years. An estimated 221,418 birds went home in game bags. 2006 was a great year, as well, but last year’s harvest was a paltry 41,712 birds. Many hunters stayed home or hunted grouse or quail instead. Early indicators pointed to better conditions in 2008.
Dave Budeau, Upland Game Bird Coordinator in Salem, was happy to see the spring rains in April and May. He said that June rains might have destroyed early clutches, but “chukar are persistent re-nesters, and have been observed re-nesting well into July.”
Chukar, Hungarian partridge and quail seasons open October 11. (W.U. ranches open October 18 or later.) Pheasant season begins October 18.
A lot of new hunters have already taken to the uplands and the marsh in ODFW’s new Mentored Youth Hunting Program. The MYHP allows youth between the ages of 9 and 13 to hunt while closely supervised by a licensed adult. Only one firearm or bow may be carried between the two hunters. To participate, youth must complete a program registration form. See page 42 of the new regulations.
Fall upland bird seasons are a great way to introduce a youngster to the sport or to take an old timer back to the field.
To the young, the relationship of spring rains to fall harvest is not quite as apparent as it might be to someone with gray in the hair. But the hunt inspires a lifelong fascination with the land that, whether it comes early or late in life, makes us turn in our waking dreams to the horizon. We calculate the timing of the rains in the spring and, as September draws near, we close our eyes, see the dog working close in heavy cover and hear the cackle of a rooster and the wind that beats beneath its wings.