Chukar forecast improved for hunters

Bird hunting, specially chukar, is expected to have an increased population.

Bird hunting, specially chukar, is expected to have an increased population.

Forget all of the fluff, let’s just cut to the good news — this year’s Nevada Chukar Hunting Forecast, an annual report put out by the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) that takes habitat conditions and statewide survey results to estimate chukar populations, was recently released and predicts good chukar hunting for much of Nevada.

NDOW biologists found that timely spring rains received in late March and early April improved habitat conditions throughout much of northern Nevada. Additionally, some significant rainfall events that took place over the summer reduced dependency on depleted water sources and increased available cover and food sources, likely increasing survival of both adults and broods. In other words, Nevada sportsmen can look forward to a better season than last year.

The department conducted aerial surveys for chukar at 13 designated survey plots during the week of Aug. 18-21. Those results show an increase of 43 percent overall. All but three plots had more birds than average, according to the results. Several plots showed a greater than 75 percent increase from the previous year and others had increases greater than 60 percent.

In addition to the aerial density surveys, limited ground brood surveys for chukar were also conducted in other portions of the state. Local game division biologists have indicated fair to good chukar production in several Churchill County mountain ranges as well as the Cortez and Diamond mountains of Eureka County. Good production was also noted in the Virginia Mountains; however, this area receives quite a bit of hunter pressure due to its proximity to Reno.

A higher number of birds this year is not the only good news for chukar hunters. The last couple of chukar hunting seasons have been tough on hunters and their dogs. Low bird numbers and older adult birds left hunter success very low in 2012-13 and 2013-14. Since many of the birds will be young, they may be easier to hunt.

“When a chukar gets older, they become skittish and harder to get close to. A boost in reproduction this year means many of the birds will be inexperienced in the wild which gives hunters a better chance,” said NDOW Public Information Officer Chris Healy.


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