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OR – HUNTING – Chukar hunting forecast: a short drive for a change

Last year, high above the Deschutes River, I caught a glimpse of a covey of chukar that must have numbered 150 birds. I tried to follow them, but they gave the dog the dodge. When we topped out on the ridge, the stragglers were 70 yards away, too far, flying down the other side toward the river. Chukar populations are cyclical and with all things being equal, we expect to see healthy populations of chukar every eight to 10 years. But it’s been awhile. Mikal Cline is Oregon’s upland bird biologist. After a string of hard winters and some bad summer fire seasons, Cline saw some interesting trends in summer counts. “For whatever reason the birds in the Deschutes and John Day drainages are having a booming year,” Cline said. But that’s not all. Bird numbers look better in the Malheur drainage. “We saw a real population crash in the winter of ‘16-’17 at the Riverside Wildlife Area on the Malheur. It seems like those birds have bounced back, too.” Cline clicked back through her records while we talked. “There were some years in the ‘90s when everything really came together,” Cline said. “In 2003 through 2006, those were really good years and we haven’t seen anything like them since. 2005 was the last time we really had an incredible chukar year. We haven’t seen anything like that in 15 years.” Think about that. The average lifespan of a German shorthaired pointer is 15 years.  [full article]

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