Yes! It's that joyous time of year again! Saturday April 29 Is our spring clean up out at The Willard public dog training area. We would like to meet that morning at 7:00. Please spread the word amongst your members. The good news is that it looks as though our efforts have started to pay off. I believe there is less to do than there has been in the past. Someone did leave us a nice Television set, and there is a couple of dead cows but other than that it shouldn't be too bad. The DWR might have us mark any remaining cactus for treatment this year along with the clean up. It looks like we have made a really solid dent in the cactus in recent years. It shouldn't take much to finish it off.
There is some fencing down by the training ponds. We might go ahead and repair that if we have time. If not Rich and Colton said they could get it at another time.
Most of us have done this before, and know what you are doing. So bring the work gloves, and any fencing tools you might have. The DWR will provide bags the trailer for hauling garbage, and most everything else that is needed.
Shout with any questions, and we will look forward to seeing you at 7:00 on April 29th!
Greetings: Much thanks to all who attended our banquet and supported us this year. Please shop our sponsors first. We had our most successful banquet to date netting just over $29K. Hopefully you received a newsletter recently if you attended the banquet, or paid your yearly dues. If not, please email me your address.
This email list and our Facebook page will keep you up-to-date on current events. We will gladly add anyone to our email list, if they request it.
We will have a board meeting on April 11th at Scheels (11282 State St, Sandy, UT 84070) from 6:30-8:30, second floor NW corner. Many of us eat from 6:00-6:30 in the diner before the meeting. All are welcome to attend. We welcome member input and your vote regarding the board. At this meeting, we will report on projects from last year and have a guest from the habitat council discuss upland habitat projects. Additionally, we will establish the board for the year, make goals, and present new projects for funding.
Thanks again, we look forward to another great year!
I hope your season is going well; winter came in strong after quite the Indian summer.
It’s Banquet time again. We truly hope most of you will support us again at our annual banquet. Please find the banquet order form in the newsletter or go to the Banquet page on the website. For those of you who help us each year and donate, we hope you will find yourself in a position to help again this year. Please contact Alan at firstname.lastname@example.org or Travis at email@example.com or 801-360-6553.
Some Foundation Highlights from this year include:
Central Region Guzzler project
Supporting and volunteering with two youth fairs
Supporting a new grouse infrared lek study
Continuing sage grouse and other grouse data collecting projects
Partnering with a USU forest grouse study
Volunteering and providing input/feedback on many upland projects in the state
We are a strong voice and partner for upland game and upland sportsmen/women in the state. Your support at our annual banquet provides the necessary funding to support these upland projects on Utah’s public lands. Working as a partner with the UDWR and other agencies we make your money stretch much further than if we tried to do everything on our own. Thanks as always for your support!
This year’s annual banquet will be held at the Sheraton in downtown SLC on Feb. 25. Please sign up early for the banquet to make sure you have a spot. Even with our new location we anticipate filling up and the earlier you sign up the better the deals and the better we can plan accordingly. Sign up for the banquet using the enclosed flyer in your newsletter, or go to our Banquet Page. If you can't attend, but still want to donate, see the information on Darin's raffle for the Chukar mount below.
This is the 2017 UCWF Commemorative Chukar donated by Darin Gardner. He was harvested by Travis Proctor late last year and Travis was kind enough to give Darin this bird. Darin wanted to do a simple elegant mount to show off this beautiful specimen. And yes, that is a living breathing cactus plant in the foreground! Darin actually mounted this bird last year and competed with him at the Utah Taxidermy Competition and Art Show. This has been his highest scoring bird to date with a 97 out of a possible 100. He won several awards including Masters Best Bird, Taxidermists Choice Best Bird, Best of the West Award, and a gold belt buckle for best bird in the show. Darin says he is probably the best bird he has ever mounted. "It’s going to be hard to give this bird up, but it’s for a good cause. Someone will be taking home a true piece of art and a little chunk of my soul with this piece!"
For the past 13 years Darin has donated a mounted bird to the Utah Chukar & Wildlife Foundation. He has provided a different bird each year and donates the mount to the UCWF for fund raising at their annual banquet. One ticket for a chance to win will be given for every $5 donated using the Paypal link below. The winning ticket will be drawn at the annual banquet held on February 25, 2017. Last year with the help from a LOT of generous folks the bird raised a little over $1100. Darin's website is located at: www.birdfishtaxidermist.com
Upland Slam Banquet offer:
Those who participated in the upland slam program can be rewarded at our annual banquets. Each upland slam token earned for the 2016-17 season may be presented to a board member at the banquet to receive 3 free raffle tickets per token earned. Anyone earning all 5 2016-17 tokens will also receive a free plaque to hold their tokens, contact Travis Proctor (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get the plaque. Additionally, any person who accomplishes the entire Utah Upland Game Ultimate Slam may contact Travis Proctor (email@example.com) to receive a free banquet dinner.
Thanks for your support!! We look forward to seeing you again on February 25th!
The birds stay in a smaller area, making it easier to find them
Falling snow is good news for chukar hunters. Once snow starts to fall, chukars—which roam over a large area during the warmer months—concentrate in smaller areas. That makes it easier to find the birds.
Chukar partridge also live in some of Utah’s driest country. That’s another reason why they’re a great bird to hunt in the winter. You won’t have to worry as much about getting your vehicle stuck in snow, or hiking through deep snow, like you might while participating in other hunts in the winter. Colder weather also makes hiking less strenuous. And rattlesnakes are hibernating now, so you don’t need to be concerned about them either.
“In my opinion,” says Jason Robinson, upland game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, “winter is the best time of the year to hunt chukars.”
Robinson says another advantage to hunting chukar in the winter—or anytime during the season—is the tasty meal the birds provide. “Chukar are the best-tasting game bird in Utah,” he says.
Be aware, though—to put a tasty meal on your table, you’ll have to earn it.
Another thing you can earn is a coin for completing the state’s “Blister Slam.” The slam is one of six upland game slams in Utah. You can learn more about Utah’s Upland Game Slam at www.wildlife.utah.gov/uplandslam.
Great season so far
This winter should be one of the best winters ever to get out and hunt chukars in Utah. Hunting success this season has been well above average. “Hunters are reporting great success this season,” Robinson says. “They’re seeing more coveys of birds. And many of the coveys have good numbers of birds in them.”
The state’s chukar hunt runs until Feb. 15.
More information about where to find chukars in Utah is available on page 36 of the 2016 – 2017 Utah Upland Game & Turkey Guidebook. You can get the free guidebook at www.wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks.
Find the right spot
Before hiking up a hill to find chukars, you can save yourself time and energy by getting familiar with the landscape chukars live in. Robinson says chukars need three things: Cliffs for roosting, shrubby cover near the cliffs, and seeds and grasses to eat.
In Utah, this habitat is usually found just below ridgelines at about 4,000 to 6,000 feet in elevation. As you scout these areas, looks for steep slopes because the terrain you’ll find chukars in is steep—very steep.
To make the most of your energy supply, Robinson suggests hiking up to a ridgeline, and then walking along the ridgeline and then down from the ridge.
Chukars run uphill to escape hunters. And they flush downhill when spooked. For these reasons, getting above the birds will give you a big advantage. “There can be a lot of walking involved,” he says, “but it’s a great way to stay in shape through the winter.”
Robinson suggests waiting until midmorning before heading out. Giving the sun time to soften and melt the snow can make it easier to navigate the steep terrain chukars live in. “When the ground is frozen,” he says, “walking in this terrain is like trying to walk on a Slip’N Slide.”
There is an advantage to being out at first light, though. “The birds usually feed early in the morning,” Robinson says. “If you listen closely, they’ll often tip you off to their location.”
Robinson says chukars live in coveys that typically number between five to 30 birds. “When the covey is feeding,” he says, “it always posts a sentry. The sentry sits on a rock that provides it with a good view of the surrounding area. If the bird sees you, it will call out to alert the other birds. There’s a flip side to that, though: the sentry’s calling will alert you that a covey of chukars is in the area.”
Focus on food
During the early part of the season, chukar spend a lot of time hiding from birds of prey that are migrating through Utah. Now that these predators have moved through the state, the birds are free to spend more time finding seeds and grasses to eat.
Unlike many upland game birds, chukars are not restricted to pockets of habitat that have stands of trees in them, so their habitat is expansive. In the winter, though, snow reduces the amount of area in which the birds can find food. Robinson says in the winter, you should look for chukar on south-facing slopes. The snow on slopes that face south melts faster. As the snow melts, grasses green up for the chukars to eat.
“That’s one of the big advantages to hunting chukars in the winter,” Robinson says. “Because the north-facing slopes have snow on them, the snow essentially cuts in half the areas where you’ll find birds.”
Use the right gear
To hunt chukars, you have to hike up steep slopes. Make sure the boots you’re wearing provide good traction and ankle support. Robinson also suggests wearing your clothes in layers. Wearing layers allows you to remove a layer if you get hot while hiking. Then, if your hike brings you to a cold and windy ridgeline, you can put that layer on again.
Shots at chukars often come at fairly long ranges. Robinson suggests using a 12- to 28-gauge shotgun, with a modified choke, shooting shot shells loaded with 4 or 5 shot.
Bringing a trained hunting dog with you can also be a great idea. Trained dogs will help you locate the chukars. And they can retrieve the birds you shoot. “That will save you from having to hike down steep slopes to find birds on your own,” Robinson says.
General season opens Sept. 24
After flying in helicopters over two areas in Utah’s West Desert, Divis
ion of Wildlife Resources biologists have some exciting—and unusual—news to report: the number of chukar partridge in north-central Tooele County is close to a record high. And the number in central Box Elder County is the highest since surveys started there in 2009.
OK, it’s easy to see why that news is exciting. But why is it unusual?
Jason Robinson, upland game coordinator for the DWR, says the number of chukars in Utah usually spikes every eight years. The year following a spike, chukar numbers usually plummet.
In north-central Tooele County, biologists counted 101 chukars per square mile in 2015. That was second highest count on record. During a survey on Aug. 26, 2016, they counted 95 chukars per square mile. That’s the fourth highest on record.
In central Box Elder County, chukar numbers actually climbed from 2015. In 2015, biologists spotted 26 chukars per square mile. During a survey on Aug. 23, 2016, they counted a record high for the county: 34 chukars per square mile.
Robinson isn’t certain why chukar populations didn’t follow their normal pattern of crashing a year after spiking. He thinks, though, that the weather might be a factor.
He says weather conditions for chukars have been ideal over the past nine months. The ideal conditions started last winter, when plenty of snow fell early in the season. (Good snowfall is critical to providing birds with green vegetation and insects months later.) Then, in late winter, the snow stopped falling and temperatures warmed. Those conditions allowed plenty of adult birds to survive the toughest time of the year.
Next, lots of rain fell during the spring. The abundant moisture, combined with the moisture received earlier in the winter, gave newly hatched chicks lots of green vegetation and insects to eat.
Robinson says flying surveys in Tooele and Box Elder counties give biologists, hunters and birdwatchers a great picture of how chukars are doing across the West Desert. “The West Desert has the best chukar habitat in Utah,” he says.
Reports from DWR biologists in other areas of the state indicate chukars are doing well in those areas too.
Even though chukar numbers are high, Robinson says taking these tough, challenging birds requires skill, effort and determination, even in great years like this one. “Whatever the specific reasons,” he says, “chukars in Utah are doing really well this year. This should be a great season to get into chukar country and pursue this unique and tasty bird.”
In addition to the chukar hunt, the gray partridge hunt also opens on Sept. 24. Gray partridge are found mostly on or near agricultural land in Box Elder County. Robinson says gray partridge numbers are up slightly from last year.
Those 17 years of age and younger can hunt chukar and gray partridge Sept. 17, 18 and 19, during Utah's annual youth partridge hunt. After Sept. 19, the hunts will close until Sept. 24 when Utah's general partridge hunt, for hunters of all ages, opens up.
Finding chukars is the first step to bagging some birds. Robinson provides the following tips:
Tip 1 - See the distribution map on page 36 of the 2016 – 2017 Utah Upland Game and Turkey Guidebook. The map will show you where chukar habitat is found in Utah. The free guidebook is available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks.
Robinson says Tooele, Juab and Millard counties have the highest concentration of birds in the state. "The state's best chukar habitat is found in the rocky, desert areas west of Interstate 15," he says.
Other areas in Utah do hold plenty of birds, though. Robinson says the Book Cliffs in eastern Utah, and rocky river corridors in southern Utah, are some of the best. "And every year, hunters do take birds in the rocky foothills along the Wasatch Front," he says.
Tip 2 - After arriving in an area that might have chukars in it, focus your efforts on steep, rocky slopes that have cheatgrass, bunch grass or sagebrush on them. These rugged, cheatgrass-covered slopes provide ideal habitat for the birds.
Tip 3 - Because chukars are very vocal, early morning is the perfect time to hunt them. "The birds feed mostly in the early morning," Robinson says. "If you listen closely, they'll often tip you off to their location."
Robinson says chukars live in coveys that typically number between five to 30 birds. "When the covey is feeding," he says, "it always posts a sentry. The sentry sits on a rock that provides it with a good view of the surrounding area. If the bird sees you, it will call out to alert the other birds. There's a flip side to that, though: the sentry's calling will alert you that a covey of chukars is in the area."
Tip 4 - Finding a water source is a good idea, but chukars aren’t completely reliant on water, even early in the season. A good idea, early in the season, is to hunt the steep slopes that are above a water source. "As the season progresses," Robinson says, "water becomes less important to chukars. Hunting near a water source isn't as important later in the season."
Tip 5 - When winter arrives, hunt slopes that face south. "The sun beats on these south-facing slopes in the winter," he says. "That warms the rocks, melts the snow and attracts the chukars."
After finding some birds, remember that chukars almost always run uphill to escape danger. "You can't outrun them," Robinson says, "so don't try to chase the birds up the slope."
Instead, try to cut off the birds' escape route by circling around the birds and getting above them. Then, hunt down the slope towards them. "If you get above the birds," he says, "they'll usually stay where they are until you get close enough to shoot at them."
When chukars flush, they almost always fly straight out from the slope before hooking to the left or the right. "Get your shots off while the birds are still in range," he says.
After hooking to the left or right, any bird that isn't bagged will typically fly into a group of rocks, into sagebrush or into bunch grasses. If you watch where the birds land, you'll often have a chance for another shot.
Robinson says dogs aren't needed to hunt chukars. "But having a dog is very helpful," he says, "both in finding birds and retrieving the birds you hit."
Because of the steep, rough areas where chukars live, it's important to be in good physical shape. When you go afield, make sure you wear sturdy boots that provide your ankles with plenty of support.
"It's also important to carry plenty of water," Robinson says, "especially during the early part of the season."
Five reasons to hunt upland game
If you're not currently hunting upland game in Utah, Robinson provides five reasons to consider giving it a try. You can read his list at www.wildlife.utah.gov/blog/2015/top-5-reasons-to-hunt-upland-game-in-utah.
Upland Game Slam
If you'd like to add some fun to your hunt, consider participating in Utah's Upland Game Slam. One of the slams—the Blister Slam—will reward you for taking a five chukar limit in a single day. You can learn more about the Upland Game Slam at www.uplandgameslam.org.
It’s time for an update on the Utah State University Forest Grouse Research Project in the Bear River Range, USFS Logan Ranger District. We have been busy catching and marking grouse, following broods, completing vegetation surveys, and assessing utilization distribution within pastures used by grouse.
Captures – We have captured 35 grouse since July 1, 2016 bringing our project total to 70 marked (banded and/or radio). We have captured 57 dusky grouse with all 14 GPS PTT radios currently deployed and 18 with VHF radios. The rest of the dusky grouse were banded and most were juveniles too small to be radio-marked. We caught 32 female and 25 male dusky grouse. All 13 ruffed grouse were banded and released. We have been able to follow several dusky grouse broods during mid to late summer. Our project goal is to have at least 100 grouse marked, and it seems we will exceed this goal during our next field season. We have only experience a few natural mortalities this summer and survival of radio-marked birds has been high. We have experienced a few capture myopathies and have adjusted our methods accordingly.
Vegetation Surveys – we were able to complete only one survey of vegetation for a dusky grouse nest. With our much larger sample of marked females next spring we should get a much larger sample of nests for dusky grouse. We have completed vegetation surveys for all broods at least once per week as broods have become part of our sample. We have also completed vegetation surveys on dusky grouse males and females without broods based on opportunity.
Utilization Distribution – we have created a systematic grid of points across pastures that grouse have been using. At each point we have estimated utilization of grasses and will use this data to extrapolate a layer of the degree of utilization within our pastures. Utilization consists of both livestock and wildlife grazing and we desire to understand the impact, if any, this is having on habitat selection by dusky grouse.
GPS PTT Radios – we have had some difficulty with some of our solar powered GPS radios keeping enough charge to send location information through the satellite system. Most of these issues have occurred with males following the breeding season. We have continued to receive Doppler locations (huge location error rates) which indicates all these birds are still alive and moving, but not getting GPS fixes. This is concerning and we are checking with the manufacturer to better understand the issue. We cannot tell if the shaded nature of their habitat is causing the issue or if birds have covered part of all of the solar panel by preening their feathers, or if there is some inherent problem with the units. We hope to get this problem resolved soon. Other units have performed remarkably well and continue to provide lots of location data.
Wing Barrels - we were able to get all our wing barrels out prior to the season opener on Sept. 1. We have started collecting wings already. We appreciate the cooperation with USFS in putting these barrels on their property. We hope hunters will return any banded birds that get harvested. We also hope no one shoots a $4000 GPS PTT, but I'm sure it will happen at some point.
We would like to acknowledge our graduate student, Skyler Farnsworth, who has put in a Yeoman’s effort this last year to get this project up and running and as successful as it has been. We also thank the technicians who have spent countless hours working on the project: Kade Lazenby, Kyle Hawk, and Zack Slick. Stephen Lytle and Justin Brimhall have also put time into the project as technician support.
We also had the privilege of Dr. Dwayne Elmore from Oklahoma State University come and join us for a week of field work in early August. We were able to catch a few grouse with him. If you are wondering why an Oklahoma State Univ. professor would be interested in a dusky grouse project you need to understand Dwayne has a history here in Utah having completed his doctorate here at USU. Dwayne became deeply interested in dusky grouse at that time and when he learned of this research project he became involved. Dwayne is also the Bollenbach Chair (Bollenbach's funded the position to improve and support upland game research and management) in Wildlife Biology in his department.
Here is a video of capturing a dusky grouse with a noose pole: https://youtu.be/ON2xbqn6LZk
David Dahlgren, PhD
Wildlife and Rangeland Habitat
Utah State University
5230 Old Main Hill
Logan UT, 84322-5230
Farmington -- If riding in an airboat and learning the basics of duck hunting sound like fun, you need to be at the Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area on the morning of Sept. 10. That’s the day the 12th annual Utah Youth Waterfowl and Outdoor Festival will be held.
The free event, which includes a free lunch provided by Camp Chef, runs from 8 a.m. – noon. Adults are invited to the event, but only those who are 15 years of age and younger can win prizes or get a free duck call and duck decoys.
Youngsters who want a free duck call should plan on arriving close to 8 a.m. Calls will be given away until the supply runs out. Free duck decoys will also be given away.
In addition to eating lunch, learning more about duck hunting and getting some free swag, the following are among the things you can do at the fair:
- Ride in an airboat. You can also ride in boats that are powered by engines called “mud motors.” Boat rides run from 9 – 11 a.m.
- Learn how to call ducks. Utah state duck calling champion Brett Wonnacott will teach you how.
- Paint duck decoys.
- Watch trained hunting dogs in action.
- Climb a rock wall.
- Shoot a bow and arrow, and an air rifle.
Several groups have come together to make the event happen. They include Cabela’s, Camp Chef, the Division of Wildlife Resources, Fowl Minded, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and Widow Maker Boats. For more information about the event, and a full list of partners, visit www.utahwaterfowlfair.com.
Use this new website to get involved in the upland slam and to share with others.
Those who participate in the upland slam program can be rewarded at our annual banquets. Each upland slam token earned for the 2016-2017 season may be presented to a board member at the banquet to receive 3 free raffle tickets per token earned. Anyone earning all 5 tokens will also receive a free custom made plaque to hold their tokens, contact Travis Proctor (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get the plaque. Additionally, any person who accomplishes the entire Utah Upland Game Ultimate Slam may contact Travis Proctor (email@example.com) to receive a free banquet dinner.
These incentives will be offered in future years as well, so if you didn't participate this year you can always participate next year. Remember all money earned from upland slam participation goes directly toward upland game projects in Utah. It is great way to support upland game in Utah.