|With more than two months left to the statewide chukar season, hunters are being advised by a Division of Wildlife biologist, "
don't give up too soon the best hunting conditions of the year have just arrived."
According to San Stiver, upland game staff biologist for NDOW, "Chukar hunting has been tough, but now that we have had some snow throughout much of northern Nevada, hunter success should really improve."
Stiver explained that birds were concentrated around water sources early in the season, but dispersed widely after late summer and early fall rains came, resulting in the sprouting of new plants known as "green-up."
"All that tender grass, a favorite food of the chukar, tends to spread the birds, potentially over 100 percent of their habitat, making finding them more difficult. They could be anywhere," Stiver advised.
But now, on the heels of the recent snows, birds will tend to concentrate on south-facing slopes below the snow line where they will be feeding heavily on the recent green-up. "This is the time of year we advise hunters that 80 percent of the birds will be found on 20 percent of the land in any particular area known to be good chukar habitat," Stiver said.
He advises that once hunters locate birds, they should be able to find more in like spots across the area they are hunting. "This is it, this is a real good time to hunt," according to Stiver.
Nesting success, or the production of young birds this past spring, was not as good as NDOW had hoped, and this will have an effect on hunter success not just in terms of the reduced numbers of birds available, but bird behavior as well.
"Since production was down from last year, bird coveys will be made up of a larger number of mature and smarter birds that will tend to flush earlier and fly further, so hunters will probably find they will be walking more than if we had a larger population of younger and less experienced birds," Stiver added.
Hunters can generally expect to find birds in northern Nevada from the California border across to the Utah border in areas of good chukar habitat. "That includes Elko County where recent winters have been relatively mild resulting in good chukar survival."
In addition to making for improved hunting this year, Stiver said that the fall rains and green-up are the first of three favorable climatic conditions needed for population increases next year. "We now would hope for a winter that provides ample moisture, but not too severe cold temperatures, followed by ample spring moisture next year."
The chukar and quail hunting seasons remain open through January 31, 2001. The chukar limit is six daily, 12 in possession, with the quail limit set at 10 daily, 20 in possession in all but Elko, Eureka, Lander and White Pine counties, where the limit is five and ten.
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