Sharptails, Huns, and Prairie Chicken Forecast 2015
The Traveling Wingshooter 2015: Sharptails, Huns, and Prairie Chicken Forecast
by Dave Smith
Prairie grouse are on the rise across the northern Great Plains thanks to a mild winter and good to excellent conditions during the nesting season. Sharptail populations in North Dakota bounced back some last year, and Kohn expects another good increase this year due to warmer weather and excellent moisture in late spring across southern North Dakota. Sharptail and prairie chicken production in South Dakota is less certain due to the heavy storms this spring, but the last year marked the highest production index in a decade and winter carryover was excellent. The Sandhills of western Nebraska are expected to offer some good sharptail hunting this year, too, according to Dr. Lusk. Finally, Montana looks promising, according to Ryan Williamson, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Northeastern Regional Biologist: “Sharp-tailed grouse in northeastern Montana are fourteen percent over the ten-year average. In recent years, the native ranges have really produced some high-quality habitats, and grouse have responded well.”
The Hungarian partridge forecast is difficult due to the fact that the states don’t specifically survey Huns. However, the upland gamebird specialists called out northern Utah, northeastern Nevada, southern Idaho, and northern Montana as regions in which reports from hunters and field biologists indicate Huns are on the upswing.
This should be a great year for prairie grouse and Huns! Sharp-tailed grouse production was excellent in Nebraska, particularly in the Sandhills. In North Dakota, sharptail populations are stable with an overall 4% decline but 6% increase in broods observed, and Huns are up by a whopping 22%. In Montana, sharptail and Hun populations are expected to be very good in the northeastern and central regions due to a warmer than usual spring and good moisture. The Clearwater region of Idaho is the Hun sleeper this year with a staggering 189% increase from last year and one of the three highest Hun counts in the last 25 years!