Is This the Year For CA and NV?

October 7, 2011 | By | 4 Replies More

(Source: Idaho F&G)

As East-Coasters, we think about hunting out West – particularly for leg-shakingly tough chukar hunts – but are like, Why go all the way out there when we can beat ourselves up out here?

Well, this may be the year to make the trip. As previously reported here, Califor-NI-A is supposed to have an off-the-charts good season for chukar and quail, and recently Nevada said that this might be the mother of all chukar years. Here’s more.


From this news report:

> One year back in the late 1990s, Department of Fish and Game biologists suggested that quail and chukar had had an unprecedented hatch. Citing one of the largest population explosions in history, they called the event a “100-year hatch,” and true to form, hunters enjoyed the finest upland shooting anyone could remember.

> My buddies and I will attest to that year, when limits were common if one could shoot straight, and coveys were everywhere we looked. At the beginning of the season, we rarely spent more than 10 minutes finding a covey in October, November and December, and only 15 toward the end of January when individual coveys combined. All of us enjoyed fantastic shooting….

> Several years later, the effects of a prolonged drought drastically reduced the upland numbers due to loss of emergent cover and humidity necessary for egg development. When ample rain finally came several years ago, a lot of vegetation and cover emerged, allowing the birds to rebound with amazing ferocity.

> While the light hunting pressure produced some decent shooting last season, the larger than average numbers of remaining birds after the 2010-2011 season produced a tremendous upsurge this spring after a rain-soaked year. More habitat and dense cover blanketed the southern San Joaquin Valley than in prior years, and most nesting pairs were able to raise at least two and sometimes three clutches.

> So, will this be another 100-year cycle? No one knows for sure…but I’m willing to bet it’ll be at least the best since the last one in the 1990s, due to the absurd numbers of birds seen around the valley floor, desert and mountains.

> Even the normally dry areas of Inyo, Mono and eastern Kern counties are reporting huge stocks of both chukars and quail. The Sierra, especially in Tulare County around the Ponderosa, Peppermint and Camp Nelson communities, are teeming with large numbers of hard-to-find mountain quail.

> The general quail season opens Oct. 15. Bag limits are 10 per day for valley and mountain quail and six for chukars. Possession limits for all three are double the daily bag limit after opening day.


From here:

> Nevada upland game biologist Shawn Espinosa: “I think overall it’s going to be a good to excellent season. If there was ever a time to come check out chukar hunting in Nevada, it would be this year. Hunters are going to be very happy.”

> NDOW biologists found that a very wet October last year provided upland game with an ample amount of forage, which led to improved overall body condition. This allowed most upland game populations to thrive during the winter months.

> NDOW also conducted surveys on 13 long-term study plots in late August and found the number of birds observed was higher than the long term average in 11 of the 13 plots. The survey found record numbers of birds in five of the plots and strong population recoveries in both Pershing and Lander Counties.

> Espinosa reports that hunters may want to look off the beaten path this year. “I don’t think hunters should focus primarily on the more popular mountain ranges in the state.  I think a lot of things this year are a little more spread out than normal because of the habitat conditions and the availability of water,” he said. “Hunters will be rewarded if they try looking at mountain ranges aside from the usual spots.”

> Chukar hunting opportunities within Humboldt County, which experiences the most use in terms of hunter days, will be mostly average with the exception of the Jackson Mountains, which showed better numbers this year.

> Pershing County has seen record high densities of birds observed in the Sonoma and Selenite Ranges, as well as the Lava Beds.

> The central portion of Nevada including Churchill, northern Nye, and southern Lander and Eureka counties are expected to provide good to excellent opportunities for chukar as well.

> Portions of Washoe County continue to harbor above average bird numbers….

> 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.”

Sounds tempting, doesn’t it? (Anyone wants to give us a lift on their jet, let us know….)

Also: one interesting thing to note is that Nevada has a $10 upland stamp.


Category: CA, California quail, Chukar, Gambel's quail, Mountain quail, NV, Quail

Comments (4)

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  1. Travis says:

    I have recently moved to Southern CA and yet to go bird hunting since moving out here and dying to go. I recently had a baby and have had to skip my annual trip to Northern Maine to hunt grouse, anyone out there have some tips on where to go, or want to show a serious bird hunter the ropes in hunting anywhere within 2-4 hours from LA. Thanks for any help/ideas it’s really appreciated.

  2. Jim Matthews says:

    Rain the week before the opener scattered the birds for the Southern California quail and chukar opener, but there are a lot of birds in most places this year and reports so far have been excellent.

    Here’s a link to the news story I did on the opener:

    Josh, you might want to look at the newsletter we publish, Western Birds. More information on our web site (under newsletters) at

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