Category Archives: Recent News

President’s Message Summer 2017

Greetings,

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 alan.smith@grousecreek.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!

2017 Annual Banquet & Fundraiser

Greetings,

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 alan.smith@grousecreek.com or Travis at travis.chukar@gmail.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.

Travis

2017 UCWF Commemorative Chukar

chukar-auctionThis 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

2017 Banquet Offer for Upland Slam Participants

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 (travis.chukar@gmail.com) to get the plaque. Additionally, any person who accomplishes the entire Utah Upland Game Ultimate Slam may contact Travis Proctor (travis.chukar@gmail.com) to receive a free banquet dinner.

Thanks for your support!! We look forward to seeing you again on February 25th!

Travis

Another Great Chukar Hunt

General season opens Sept. 24 image-1

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

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."

Hunting 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.

USU Forest Grouse Project Update – Sept 2016

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.

image

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.

img_1462We 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.

img_20160803_104625913We 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 Assistant Professor Wildlife and Rangeland Habitat Utah State University 5230 Old Main Hill Logan UT, 84322-5230 435-881-1910 dave.dahlgren@usu.edu

New Web Design

Welcome to the new and improved Utah Chukar & Wildlife web page. We were experience some issues with the old site and needed to upgrade to a new Content Manager which allows us an easier way to update information and display content that is most important to those who access the site. All information that is currently sent via email will now also be included as a post and will be visible on the home page. This will allow you to easily keep abreast with UCWF projects and activities. Since it is a new design, please let me know if there is any issues or mistakes that might have been missed. I hope you like it. Thanks, Alan Smith

Parker Mountain Sage-grouse Flush Counts July 29-30, 2016

UCWF members have been coming to Parker Mountain the last weekend in July since 2004.  We will again hold our annual flush counts this year (2016) July 29-30 (Fri and Sat).  We have multiple experimental plots where we try to keep track of sage-grouse use. Bird dogs are a great asset to this end.  Folks usually run dogs any time while down there, however, on Saturday morning we will run dogs all together in experimental plots.  I need as many volunteers as possible. If you are running dogs outside of the Saturday morning period we still need to keep track of the number of birds, classification (age, sex, etc.), and the location. I will have multiple transects across the mountain that could be run at any time and we can download them to your GPS unit. UCWF will provide dinner on Friday night around 7pm as we have done in the past.  Otherwise food and water (bring plenty of water) is up to you.  Camping conditions are primitive with no water or toilets, though some have brought camper trailers in the past.  I will be down there the entire week (Monday-Saturday) for those that would like to come early please let me know.  I would appreciate an RSVP so UCWF can plan food accordingly, please e-mail me at dkdbio@gmail.com. If you have already contacted me via email or Facebook don’t worry about RSVPs unless you need to back out. We will be camped in our usual spot just west of Red Knoll.  See map below.  Hope to see you there. Dave Dahlgren Parker Campground-New