Well, I’m not too sure what to expect. After an easy winter and a wonderful, mild spring I was ready for record numbers of birds. But the summer has dragged on forever and in many places the green-up has long been rank and brown. It’s a lot like a drought and nothing knocks back chukars like drought.
However, Dave Budeau, the ODFW staff game bird biologist, says the district biologists’ counts are roughly equivalent to last year’s, when taken in total. Which means that some districts may be pretty thin. He is chary about trying to deduce too much from localized brood counts, because so many variables come into play. Any number of things can cause the number of birds along a trend route to be higher or lower than the year before. So, it’s better to look at the big picture and get a pretty accurate idea, than it is to focus on a single trend route and hope it’s true.
Another biologist I talked with confirmed something I’d first noticed last year. Chukars are showing up way down on flat, sage brush ground, miles away from any kind of hills. Twice while driving I came upon a large covey south of Burns just wandering across the road, three miles from the nearest significant bump in the ground. Has anyone else been seeing birds down on the flats like that? Maybe we need to add a different dimension to our hunting efforts.