I hope your summer is going well, fall will be here soon.
Now is the time to put in for the limited entry upland permits, go to the UDWR website for more information. Thanks to those who helped with Outdoor Adventure Days and recent guzzler installs! We will be participating in another youth/family Utah Youth Waterfowl Fair and Outdoor Festival on Sept. 9, at the Farmington Bay WMA (http://www.utahwaterfowlfair.com/). This is a great youth event for you to attend, or contact Alan at email@example.com if you can volunteer to help.
We have seen chukar chicks in the desert during our guzzler installations and we hope they are faring well despite the dry weather. Our annual sage grouse count summer activity is coming up on July 28-29. We hope to see many of you there, look for additional information in this issue and via email. We have more guzzler installations that will take place later this summer and fall, look for emails with dates and contact information.
Enjoy the rest of Summer!
We have a lot of volunteer opportunities right now. See below for explanations of activities, contact information and some great events for kids and families to enjoy.
Guzzler installation checks. With the movement of some BLM folks we have some guzzlers that were installed, but we don't know which 14 of about 25 sites had guzzlers installed and which still need to be installed. We need some volunteers who can take an ATV to GPS locations then determine if a guzzler is installed at that location, or if it still needs to be installed. These sites are near Delta. Contact Travis Proctor to help asap at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801.360.6553
Outdoor Adventure Days on June 9-10th. http://oad.utah.gov/ We will have booth at this free event for youth and families. We can use help at the booth. This is a great volunteer event where you can bring your dog and talk with other hunters and trainers as you demonstrate to participants the hunting and training process. Puppies are welcome also. Contact Alan Smith to volunteer email@example.com and/or bring your family and friends to enjoy the events.
Guzzler installs southeastern region. The DWR is planning a volunteer day on Saturday, June 3rd to build chukar guzzlers near Huntington, Utah. We are currently planning on installing one guzzler that day, but could have crews at four different guzzlers if we have enough volunteer help. We will be meeting at BK's (Sinclair) in Huntington at 8:00 a.m. that day. Contact Makeda firstname.lastname@example.org to help
Guzzler installs central region. We are ready to install two guzzlers in the Central Region. DeWayne will coordinate the installs at a TBD date (during the next month). Contact DeWayne if you are interested in helping email@example.com
Youth Outdoors Fair in Ogden June 17th https://sk.eventbu.com/ogden/2017-youth-outdoors-fair/1483466 We are looking for a volunteer to man a booth for the foundation at this event (9-12:00), or take your family to enjoy the activities. Contact Alan Smith to volunteer firstname.lastname@example.org
We are excited about these and other projects this summer. We will be installing more guzzlers later this summer and there will be another youth fair on September 9th at Farmington Bay http://www.utahwaterfowlfair.com/
Thanks for your support and help,
Dog trainer friends,
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!
Thanks for all you do,
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 email@example.com or Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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
Thanks for your support!! We look forward to seeing you again on February 25th!
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.
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." Reminders
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.