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I am interested in getting into upland game hunting. I don't have dogs and am not in a position to get them right now. I Posted in the old forum asking what types of game I could most easily persue without dogs and the response was chuckers, grouse, and phez. What kinds of places (terrain etc) should i be looking for to hunt. Also what should I do in advance to make sure I'm ready? What is a good way to learn to identify birds in flight, how they sound, etc before I go out? I live in southern utah county where are some good places within an hour or so drive that I could start looking? Thanks in advance.
 

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I'd probably forget about the birds and concentrate on rabbits. They are a lot easier to find without dogs and the season continues for several months. Cottontails are great eating and jack rabbits are wonderful for shooting practice.

Concentrate on areas with lots of sagebrush--especially where it borders pinions or junipers.
 

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Well the easiest thing to do is find someone that has experience in the species you're after and recruit them to go with you. Offer to drive and pay for lunch and sometimes you can talk someone into showing you a spot. The location isn't as important as the methods, because finding upland birds in Utah is mostly about putting boot to ground. There isn't an easy way, you have to do a lot of walking and looking.

Without a dog my recommendations would be grouse and chukar. Unless you have some cushy private land, seasoned roosters are tough to come by even with a good dog.

Forest grouse live just about anywhere you can find pines, quakies, or both as well as a little water. Spanish Fork Canyon, Dairy Fork, Strawberry, Currant Creek, Sheep Creek -- find some forest and hike around. My personal experience seems to show that grouse seem to like areas with little springs or streams, even though they actually don't need too much water. Mixed aspen and pine transition zones is where I find them most often.

Chukars -- West Desert, West of Nephi out towards Lemington and Delta, etc. They like rocky, steep, semi-arid habitat. Drive around in early morning or late evening in these types of areas and stop frequently to listen. You can hear them chucking and calling. At that point it's all about taking the high ground and coming down from above.
 

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I hate to say it, but upland game hunting without a dog is not something I could reccommend. Oh, you'll bring home dinner now and again, but it's so frustrating between shots. You'll never really know if you just walked right by a covey of chukar, or whether or not there was a grouse in that brushpile. Plus when you do score it's apt to be one nano-second of excitment. Bird-boom. With a dog the excitment builds as the dog starts to get birdy, tracks the birds, they pause, they run, they get pinned against some obstacle, the dog is ponting! Oh crap, he's starting to creep in, run and try to get in range, ok the dogs solid again, where are those birds? Then b-b-b-b-and there they are. It's a totally differnt experience with dogs, and don't even get me started on the number of down birds you'll lose without a dog. You're much better off duck hunting dogless than upland game hunting. I'd concentrate on meeting dog-owning hunting partners and seeing if you like it. If so, you can fit a dog into almost any lifestyle, if you think ahead! (Can't stress that last part enough!)
 

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Trooper said:
I hate to say it, but upland game hunting without a dog is not something I could reccommend. Oh, you'll bring home dinner now and again, but it's so frustrating between shots. You'll never really know if you just walked right by a covey of chukar, or whether or not there was a grouse in that brushpile. Plus when you do score it's apt to be one nano-second of excitment. Bird-boom. With a dog the excitment builds as the dog starts to get birdy, tracks the birds, they pause, they run, they get pinned against some obstacle, the dog is ponting! Oh crap, he's starting to creep in, run and try to get in range, ok the dogs solid again, where are those birds? Then b-b-b-b-and there they are. It's a totally differnt experience with dogs, and don't even get me started on the number of down birds you'll lose without a dog. You're much better off duck hunting dogless than upland game hunting. I'd concentrate on meeting dog-owning hunting partners and seeing if you like it. If so, you can fit a dog into almost any lifestyle, if you think ahead! (Can't stress that last part enough!)
I agree, only not!

I would recommend that everyone hunt upland birds at least a couple seasons without a dog!

And here's why:

Upland game hunting is about many things, one of which is knowing your quarry. Study up, reading field guides and hunting resource books (and searching this site and others.) Learn all you can about the critters you are pursuing and then take to the hills. Learn to find the birds without dogs, where they live, when they're there, what they eat, how they react to sound, wind, etc.

Getting a dog right out of the chute is skipping a step. You'll appreciate it more, and only when you have mastered the uplands is the dog going to help anyway.

Then when you do get that pup, you'll put the sucker to work and find birds like you never thought possible.

Case in point. Quill, our favorite photog, is one hell of a chukar hunter. One of the best on this site. But the reason isn't his dog (I love Oak, don't get me wrong...and he no doubt gets up the birds) rather its because Quill knows how to hunt! He knows where to find the birds, what areas to look, and most important: why the birds are there.

Now truth be told I don't know if Quill always had a dog or not, but I'd bet my virginity that the man knows his birds due to a few seasons of chasing them dogless.

My best two bits of advice…get a field guide and use the internet as a resource to learn about upland birds.
 

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I like what invader zim wrote. My Dad's best friend and hunting buddy, all of my life, has never had a birddog and has been very successful at Grouse and Chukars. He cusses us when we bring ours along. If you ask him the secret to success in the bird fields, it's master the art of shooting and spend lots of time in the habitat of the querry. You can find that info readily available on the DWR website. Do those two things and I'll bet in a season you are well on your way to being a reasonable upland hunter.

It would also help if you joined a conservation organization and became an active participant asap...The Utah Chukar and Wildlife Foundation would be a great place to start. Then maybe The Ruffed Grouse Society or Pheasants Forever etc. I have a friend who is one of the founders of the Chukar foundation and he would take any first timer out to hunt and shoot their first chukars in his hot spot over his dogs and he would even drive just to get a guy off to a good start. So get involved in the species of your choice and it will all start to unfold. I am sure of it.

Good luck.

Robb
 

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I agree that you can get a few birds on foot. Grouse are great early in the season and not to difficult to find. You can usually drive early in the morning and find them on the high dirt roads. You can then follow them and try and kick them up and hope to get a shot. This is also a great way to learn what area they are in.

Look for aspen and oak and pine all in the same area. Also go with someone who knows where they are.

I would recommend Dove as a starter hunt. They are extremely fun and you do not need a dog for them. Most people hunt them early in the morning or late in the evening. I like to hunt them like I do other upland and walk the areas I know they are hiding in during the day. I killed 80% of my doves this way.

Make sure to scout hard for doves. I like to go Jack rabbit hunting and make it a point to note any area that holds water and doves.
 

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I always have tons of fun grouse hunting. I dont have a dog and usually come out with at least 1 or 2 birds except for last weekend. I saw 3 in really thick pines and sunk my shot into a tree. I did end up with a snow hare though. Like people have said before, you just need to get out and look for them. I usually will take a hikers trail/ high road for 30 min or so to get into the woods then just shoot off the trail into thick, gnarly terrain. If you don't get any birds, at least you got a really good exercise! After you find the birds you can usually go back to the spot over the course of the hunt/couple months and get birds. I usually hunt grouse during the rifle elk hunt because I do archery and the rest of my wifes family doesnt. Anyways, for 3 or 4 years in a row now I have pulled grouse out of the same couple spots. I am talking about like a 100'x100' area! There are grouse there every year. Always try and remember where you see grouse because usually if you miss a shot or something chances are they will be back in the same spot, even within a couple of hours sometimes. Thats just my 2 cents. I haven't used a dog for grouse before, If I could have dogs where I live I would get one and take him hunting with me. More so for the company, I usually end up grouse hunting by myself.
 
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