There is no reason not to go hunting this fall even if you didn’t fare well in the big game tag draw. As a hunter of small or upland game, you are not limited by what tags you drew! You have a different challenge; deciding which of the many hunts to go on! Quail, blue grouse, ruffed grouse, sage-grouse, Hungarian partridge, chukar, Himalayan snowcock, and dove all offer differing challenges and appeal. And waterfowl adds a whole new dimension! OK, I will admit that if you want to hunt turkeys, you may need to get drawn. Turkey hunting adds more time to your hunting season and even more diversity to your dinner table if you do draw a spring hunt!
When you choose to go hunting, you can share the hunt with as many of your family and friends as you desire! There are no limits to the number of people that can be on your small game hunt. Increasing the number of people in your party sometimes can increase the odds of successfully harvesting game. Mixed-bag hunts can result in diverse dining options, and sometimes you can add harvested game to your camp menu while you are still in the field.
Small game hunting offers many of the same benefits as does big game hunting.
Experiencing wild spaces on cool mornings or watching an evening sunset after a day of walking wild places can be enjoyed in company of good friends. Sharing these experiences can build a bond with new friends without the substantial challenges that a hunt for larger animals may impose. Small game hunts can be tailored for a single day, a weekend, or longer periods. You can focus on the experience and less on the preparation. You don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to spend an afternoon chasing small game, and you don’t need a small army to pack out your harvest if you are successful. For young or novice hunters, this may prove to be exactly the kind of activity to encourage their interest.
Traditionally, small game introduced many of us to hunting. We may be overlooking a great way to introduce the next generation to hunting if we don’t take advantage of this abundant opportunity.
If you go, what can you expect this fall?
If you are an experienced upland game and waterfowl hunter, you understand the effect that increased moisture from last winter can have on Nevada’s vegetation AND quail, grouse, chukar, and waterfowl. The 2019–2020 season ought to be one of the best we have had in quite some time.
For the first time in several years, Nevada is free of “official” drought classifications and many of Nevada’s major drainages have received one and a half (such as the Quinn, Walker, and Northern Great Basin) to double (such as the Upper Humboldt River, North Fork Humboldt River, and Reese River) annual average precipitation. Much of the precipitation came as a mix of rain and snow without extended periods of frigid temperatures, which should result in good nesting conditions and good recruitment for our upland game and waterfowl populations this fall.
Rainfall and cool temperatures extended well into May, and some upland game birds have nested later than normal. For example, an ongoing research project on dusky grouse in eastern Nevada indicates that nesting is about a month later than last year. Dusky grouse chicks are now beginning to emerge and they should have plenty of food to put on weight and the abundant cover should allow them to better elude predators.
Likewise, quail and chukar broods are beginning to show up and the Department will begin conducting brood surveys during late July and early August. We hope to produce a reliable forecast for many counties around the state just after Labor Day Weekend. Early observations indicate that brood size is much larger than last year, which should be exciting to us all.
I recommend that you start planning your weekend outings now and think about who you want to introduce to Nevada’s outdoors! Any day in the field can provide enjoyable and memorable experiences for you, your family, and your friends. If you haven’t already purchased your hunting license, it is now easier than ever before to get your essentials.
Just Get Online and Get Outside!
Director, Nevada Department of Wildlife