Hunting will be mixed across the state, but Idaho offers a variety of upland game bird hunting opportunities.

Idaho is a big state with a diverse mix of habitats, elevations and climates, and the state contains a variety of upland game birds. Upland bird populations can vary tremendously on an annual basis, and their health and numbers typically depend on favorable weather conditions, which are often very localized.

That means upland game birds are tough to forecast on a statewide basis except to say there’s ample opportunity for upland hunters to pursue a large variety of birds across a variety of landscapes.

“Like many other years, hunting can vary widely geographically, but from a statewide perspective, I’m optimistic about this fall,” said Jeff Knetter, upland game and migratory game bird coordinator. “Spring weather conditions were wetter than average, which often times means excellent brood-rearing conditions.”

To provide an idea of what’s available this hunting season, Fish and Game’s wildlife biologists in each region have compiled an update of what they’re seeing and hearing on the ground with bird populations, so hunters can get a look at their favorite areas and quarry.

To learn about upland game bird hunting rules and seasons, and more information, see Fish and Game’s Upland Bird Hunting webpage, and here’s the digital copy of the 2019 Upland Game, Furbearer and Turkey Seasons and Rules booklet.

To find places to hunt upland game, check out the Hunting Access webpage, which includes Fish and Game’s Wildlife Management Areas and Access Yes! Properties.

Clearwater Region

2019 Conditions – Twelve 20-mile upland game brood routes are surveyed annually from mid to late Aug. across the Clearwater Region to index game bird population trends and productivity. These data provide an index of relative abundance and are used to monitor annual changes and long-term trends in regional populations. Due to low detection rates, however, these data are imprecise and should be interpreted cautiously.

The 2018-19 winter was fairly mild to start, but winter conditions returned late with cold temperatures and heavy snow across the Clearwater region. The impacts of these conditions on upland game bird survival are largely unknown, although no abnormally high mortality rates were detected. During the spring 2019 nesting and early brood rearing period, weather conditions were cool and abnormally wet through spring into summer. Cool and wet weather can provide for excellent summer brood-rearing habitat, but can also result in chick mortality, depending on the timing and intensity of precipitation events. Overall, population trends were mixed, depending on the species.

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