It looks like mild conditions helped adult forest grouse in Utah last winter. And the same dry, mild conditions can help you as a hunter: finding areas that are greener than surrounding areas should put you on birds this year.
Jason Robinson, upland game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, said reports from DWR field biologists indicate the number of forest grouse is average — or, in the case of dusky grouse, slightly above average — going into this fall’s hunt.
Robinson said mild temperatures and a lack of snow allowed plenty of adult birds to survive the winter and enter the spring breeding season in good condition. Once hatched, though, their chicks faced tough conditions.
“Dry conditions meant less water,” Robinson said, “and less water meant fewer forbs and insects for the chicks to eat. Chick survival was likely down this year.”
Despite fewer young birds, the DWR said plenty of adult grouse are available to hunt.
“I think this fall’s hunt will be a good one,” said Robinson, an avid forest grouse hunter. “Finding areas that are greener than surrounding areas, and then focusing your efforts in those areas, will be the key to taking birds this year.”
Utah’s forest grouse hunt starts on Sept. 1. Ruffed grouse are found on mountain ranges extending from the Idaho border south to Fish Lake and the north and south slopes of the Uinta Mountains extending east to the Colorado border. Dusky grouse are more widespread: any pine, fir or spruce forest above 7,000 feet in elevation likely has dusky grouse in it.
Maps that show where dusky and ruffed grouse live in Utah — and more information about the birds themselves — is available on pages 33 and 44 of the 2018-19 Utah Upland Game and Turkey Guidebook. Visit wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks for more information.
Grouse numbers range from average to above average this fall