Upland Birds: One More Year at the Top
Idaho Upland Game Update for 2000
by Ed Mitchell
This year's prediction sounds more like a rerun than fresh news. Upland bird hunting in Idaho will be about as goods as it can be, one more year running.
Last winter was no killer of game birds so we went into the breeding season with as many adults as we can reasonable expect. Early spring weather was just wet enough to bring on good vegetation and bug life to feed the kids but the wet and cold stopped long before new hatchlings could be hurt.
If there is any cloud at all in the picture, it may be that a few places around the state were too dry to produce chick feed but I am not hearing that yet.
Overall, I expect about the same number of birds we have seen in the last two years. That means about as many as the habitat can produce. Pleasant as it might be to think of bird numbers doubling each year in response to good conditions, that is not what I see happening nor is it reasonable to expect. I think we came close to filling up the habitat two years ago. What we are enjoying now is unusual: three excellent bird years in a row.
An exception might be in chukars. We have had good seasons in the last few years but not quite up to the peaks of 20 or so years back. Early stories this year indicate chukars may be more plentiful than last year. We will have a better idea after Fish and Game does some helicopter surveys.
Once again I advise bird hunters to stall off other activities that can wait once the season starts. Weather changes; bird populations can go down as well as up and we can't stockpile them for next year.
Predicting distant weather is a fool's game, especially in Idaho. So I will only suggest to those with a memory for the vagaries of nature that long, unusually hot summers are often followed by long, cold winters. We're due. Let's make the most of a glorious fall afield.
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