Depending on where they hunt, Utah's upland game hunters should enjoy better hunting for forest grouse, chukar partridge, Hungarian partridge and Gambel's quail this fall.
Populations of each bird are up in some areas of the state.
Blue and ruffed grouse (forest grouse) observations are positive throughout the state this year. Field biologists report an abundance of forest grouse broods.
Over-winter survival was good to excellent, while nesting and brood-rearing conditions were good throughout mountainous habitats.
Keep in mind that forest grouse populations can vary greatly between mountain ranges. Look for birds in areas of mixed mountain brush offering berries.
Berry production is highly varied across Utah this year because of long-term drought conditions. In some areas, there's an abundance of berries, while in other areas there are few to none.
Ruffed grouse prefer areas along stream and watercourses. Blue grouse are usually found higher on the mountain in the Douglas fir/aspen zone above 8,000 feet. A pair of pliers may come in handy when hunting with a dog in case of porcupine encounters. Quills are extremely difficult to remove from a dog's muzzle by hand.
Chukar hunting will be about the same as last year in the southeastern region. An extremely dry spring in most of the region delayed production of grasses, especially cheat grass, in many areas.
Forage in those areas may be lacking. However, cheat grass production in Range Creek and Desolation Canyon was very high and may have resulted in higher chukar production.
Populations of cottontail rabbits are similar to last year.
Quail hunting for the southeastern region is expected to be fair to good, with limited distribution.Utah pheasant hunting will be poor to fair at best throughout the state.