Utah Upland Game Hunts for Young Hunters

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This year's youth hunts take place on Sept. 17 and Oct. 15.

If you're 15 years of age or younger—and hunting birds sounds fun to you—this fall might be the perfect time to give it a try.

A young hunter with a chukar partridge

If you're 15 years old or younger, who can hunt chukar partridge on Sept. 17, 2011. That's one week before other hunters get a chance at the birds.
Photo by Brent Stettler

This fall, the Division of Wildlife Resources is offering not one chance, but two, to hunt various upland game birds in Utah before anyone else does:

  • On Sept. 17, 2011 you can hunt chukar and Hungarian partridge.
  • On Oct. 15, 2011 you can hunt pheasant and quail.

Justin Dolling, upland game and migratory game bird coordinator for the DWR, says holding special youth days—before the birds have been hunted and when adults aren't allowed to hunt—is a great way to get young people interested and involved in hunting.

"Upland game hunting has been called the 'gateway hunt,'" Dolling says. "Hunting upland game often gets young people excited about hunting in general."

And since adults can't hunt the same species the youth are hunting, it gives adults plenty of time to get the young hunter into the right habitat and to help the young hunter handle his or her firearm safely.

To participate in the youth hunt, a young hunter must be 15 years old or younger on Sept. 17, 2011 and a graduate of Utah's Hunter Education course.

He or she also needs a hunting license.

What if I haven't hunted before?

If you have limited hunting experience, or no experience, Dolling suggests finding someone in your neighborhood who would be willing to take you and your child hunting.

"Then," he says, "plan on attending a Hunter Education class with your child next year. Taking the class will be a good refresher for your child and a great chance for you to learn more about hunting."

Where to find the birds

In addition to looking at the distribution maps on pages 31 and 33 of the free 2011 Utah Upland Game Guidebook, Dolling provides the following information to help you find the birds:

Chukar partridge

Luckily, chukar partridge (most hunters refer to them as chukars) are found almost entirely on public land. The land chukars are found on is scattered across much of the state.

You'll find chukars on steep hillsides, rocky talus (shale rock) slopes and rocky outcroppings. If you can find a water source near one of these rocky areas, such as a small stream that flows through a valley, you may have found a chukar hunting hotspot.

If you live in the northern part of the state, a great way to find chukar habitat is to find the shoreline of ancient Lake Bonneville. Then, hunt the rocky, talus slopes just above where the shoreline used to be.

Because they live in some rough areas, chukar hunting can be a tough hunt. But if you're prepared, it can also be very rewarding.

Bird releases

To increase the chance your young hunter takes a bird, the DWR will release 1,000 chukars the day before the hunt. See where the DWR will release the chukars.

Hungarian partridge

Unlike chukars, Hungarian partridge are found almost entirely on private land. In Utah, you'll find them in two counties—Box Elder County and, to a smaller extent, Cache County.

You'll find Hungarian partridge (many hunters refer to them as Huns) mostly in low elevation areas that have rolling hills and lots of property enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

(CRP land has lots of grassy and bushy vegetation.)

If you find grassy, bushy vegetation that has sagebrush next to it, there's a good chance you've found a Hun hunting hotspot.

Tips to find a place to hunt

To find a place to hunt, Dolling suggests the following:

  • Hunt one of the properties enrolled in the state's Walk-In Access program.

    You can learn more about the Walk-In Access properties, and see which ones have Hungarian partridge, online.

    Once you arrive at http://go.usa.gov/kmG, click on the properties under the Northern Region heading to see which ones have Hungarian partridge.

    Also, click on the map that's provided with each property to find the best Hun habitat on the property.

    You can hunt on the WIA properties for free.
  • You can also learn who owns land in the counties by visiting the Box Elder County Recorder's Office in Brigham City or the Cache County Recorder's Office in Logan.

    At the offices, you can look up areas by township to see who owns the land you'd like to hunt. Then it's a matter of doing some homework and contacting the owner to see if he or she will give you access to the property.

"When you approach a landowner," Dolling says, "please be polite and understanding if he or she doesn't give you access to the property.

"But if they do give you access to the property," he says, "you'll not only end up with a good place to hunt; you might end up with a new friend."