Spring 2018 Feature: Blame It on the Rain

By on January 4, 2018

By Jodi Stemler

An excerpt from Blame It on the Rain…How many times will hunters go on a hot, early season hunt that’s tough on their dogs and without seeing many birds before they just decide to give up?” asks Steve Belinda, Executive Director of the North American Grouse Partnership.

How true that is. Last September, temperatures in the mid-80s – at an elevation of 8,000 feet – played a major role in our decision to cancel our family’s annual sage and Columbian sharptail grouse hunt in Colorado. This was almost 10 degrees higher than the historic average. With an older and somewhat out-of-shape dog, that kind of heat could be devastating. For one weekend of hunting, it just didn’t seem worth it.

Belinda continues, “The human connection to these birds and these landscapes is as important as the birds and habitats themselves. We love what we know, and we know what we visit. If we quit knowing about the places where the birds are, we’re not going to care about what happens to them.”

And it’s often during the closed seasons that bird populations take tremendous hits from nature.
The boom and bust cycles of grouse, quail and woodcock are well-known– good weather and great habitat lead to boom periods, while variability in either brings a down cycle. The goal of wildlife managers is to ensure that, when the bust times come, there will still be a boom on the other end of the cycle. There’s no denying that over the last two decades, erratic weather patterns have made extreme events more common.

Read more in the Spring 2018 Issue of Upland Almanac. <Buy the Upland Almanac Spring 2018 Issue> or <Subscribe to Upland Almanac>