Overall, state wildlife departments were optimistic last year about chukar production and anticipated an above-average year. This season has as much potential for chukar hunters – and probably even more because of the high rate of carryover in nearly every state. But a high carryover means a high proportion of cagey adult birds, which can make the season challenging.
Dave Budeau, Upland Game Bird Coordinator in OREGON, has a sense of this year’s population numbers even though surveys are ongoing: “It appears the expected fall chukar population will be about the same as last year, if not a little better, for most areas.” 2011 saw an increase in the number of chukars harvested, 75,500 to 2010’s 60,850 birds – the best since 2006 and close to Oregon’s 20-year average. “Winter was relatively mild with good overwinter survival,” explains Budeau. “Spring was wet, in places, but not quite as cool as the past two years. June was wetter than average in the western and northern extent, and very dry in late spring and summer in the southeast. Wildfires in the southeast this summer have impacted some chukar hunting areas, but there are millions of acres of public land still available.” Take a look at Oregon’s hunting access map which now includes the user option of overlaying upland gamebird range maps.
Jason Robinson, Upland Game Program Coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources in UTAH, says they’re in the midst of the surveys and so far, reports are mixed. “The harvest last year was slightly below average, but chukar numbers are stable,” says Robinson. “The past winter was extremely mild, which resulted in good overwinter survival. But the spring was hot and dry. The southern half of the state was most affected. Hunting will not be as good in the southern half of Utah. The northern half of Utah fared better, with more production.” If you’re heading to Utah this year, your best bet for good chukar hunting is in the northwest.