Joined: 08 Mar 2016
Location: Upstate NY
Starting to plan a trip west for this upcoming season, looking to make it to Montana from New York. Would like to bird hunt in a couple different states, what would you guys that have been or live that way suggest? Open to any ideas. It will be my girlfriend, 6 year old lab and me making the trip. Planned to take 2 weeks in middle of October . Thanks in advance.
In Montana you can hunt open prairie (typically rolling) with or without lots of sagebrush. There you can find public land for hunting Huns, and sharptails, pheasants maybe. Sage Grouse might be present, but the season will be closed by the time you arrive. Or...
You can hit the steep rocky mountains and find "mountain grouse" Ruffed and sooty (aka "blue grouse") go north in the mountains and you can find Franklins grouse (spruce grouse). Climb high enough and maybe see ptarmigan (don't shoot - never in season). Or... do all of the above, but you'll be puttin' miles on the vehicle, for sure!
Enjoy the journey
_________________ a bad day hunting is better than... Anything else!
I've been taking a fall western trip for the last decade or so, and the bird situation has changed quite often during that time. The possibilities exist for sharptail, Huns and pheasant in Montana with some areas being able to pursue Sage grouse. The Montana bird hunting season opens on Sep first, but I delay several weeks to allow colder temps to put the prairie rattlers down. I utilize the Block Management program for most of my hunting in NE Montana where the state has negotiated hunting access for private citizens (no guides). Idaho has some excellent bird hunting, but a lot of it is on private land and permission must be had to hunt. I have a ranch owner buddy north of Boise who has plenty of pheasant, chukar, Huns and Ca quail on his ranch. Eastern Oregon in the area surrounding Jordan Valley used to be excellent, but has declined significantly because of major fires and draught. I have not bothered to go there in the last several years. Wyoming has an early (Sep) sage grouse season that can be fairly good around the Pinedale area that I've often used as a snake free tune up for the dogs. Lots of sage brush and cactus on those hunts. I tow my travel trailer with the two dogs crated under the camper shell in the truck bed and set up in a centrally located RV park as the base of my operation. That allows a lot of flexibility to move to where the birds are if needed.
_________________ An elderly gentleman, his faithful dogs, and a 16 ga SXS. All is right with the world.
keeping an eye on this thread--that has been a dream of mine for years, to hit Montana, maybe even Idaho, then head back east thru the Dakotas, Minnesota, and end up in the UP for a while. Ususally spend a couple weeks each year in the UP, and this year went to Kansas for the first time in January--COLD!!
3 birddogs now has 4 Eng Setters, but don't think I'll change my name.
Joined: 12 Aug 2007
Location: Northern Illinois
If you drive through Canada the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for grouse and woodcock would be an option. Stay in Marquette which has many nice restaurants and hire a guide to take you grouse hunting. It would take too much time to scout on your own. You could do the same thing in Wisconsin or Minnesota and again I would hire a guide.
If you take U.S. 2 you will go right through the U.P., Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and into Montana (all good bird country). That is two lane road and will add time but you can hunt your way out and back.
Joined: 08 Mar 2016
Location: Upstate NY
Thanks for the replies. I though about hunting grouse on the way out in one of the places you mentioned Chicago. I was thinking sharptails would be something that We could go after. Still lots to think about and try to plan for. Also thinking about maybe some waterfowl hunting, but maybe I’m just dreaming too much.
Well, before recommending anything, I will ask the following: What sort of hunting do you prefer? What is your age/ physical condition? Looking for alone time or are bird numbers your number one priority? What will you be driving? This all has much bearing on what you hunt and where you go, and ultimately how much you enjoy the journey.
At this point I would hesitate greatly on planning too much. The West is notorious for unreliable hatch and early brood conditions. It's boom and bust out here, but never bust or boom everywhere at once. Late May/ early June weather (localized) will tell a lot. Mid June through mid September has a huge influence on brood survival. By August, you can get a much better idea of where your time is best spent.
Also, avoid the trap of maintaining a strict schedule, it sucks the fun right out of a trip. Be flexible. If you plan to visit 5 areas but are having fun, 3 is okay too. I made that decision in Kansas this year and learned the area I was hunting quite well. That makes future visits so much better. Things like that lead to long term "relationships" with an area.
_________________ Only catch snowflakes on your tongue AFTER the birds fly south for the winter...
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