Chukar Forecast 2016: The Traveling Wingshooter
The 2016 chukar hunting story in a single word: Nevada!
Once a decade or so, things turn just right with a combination of a mild winter, nice winter green-up, and good moisture throughout the spring. When those variables line up, the chukar hunting in Nevada is like nowhere else in North America, and is arguably one of the finest opportunities to hunt any species of upland gamebirds over bird dogs. This looks to be one of those years for chukars, according to Shawn Espinosa, Nevada Department of Wildlife. While the Department hadn’t conducted its annual helicopter surveys at press time, Espinosa was receiving remarkable reports from the field.
“The average brood size is about ten chicks, which translates to outstanding production,” said Espinosa, noting that this year looks similar to 1999 and 2011 when hunters harvested over 100 chukars. “This looks like the best chukar year since 2011.”
The best chukar numbers occur across the northern third of the state, north of Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, and Elko. The survey results for each of the Department’s transects will be available in September.
Beyond Nevada – and it’s hard to think about chukars beyond Nevada under these circumstances – my sleeper pick goes to Utah. There’s lots of public land, chukar populations expanded greatly from 2014 to 2015; and according to Jason Robinson, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, this could be a great year.