There's nothing quite like hunting birds over a well trained dog. We have good upland bird hunts around the world.
If you’re from the midwest, when you hear the phrase “upland bird hunting” it means chasing ruffed grouse, pheasants, and Hungarian partridge. If you are from the south, it means pursuing bobwhite or gambles quail. If you’re from the west, maybe it reminds you of chukar, blue grouse, sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chickens. From Canada or Alaska? How about ptarmigan?
“When you have shot one bird flying you have shot all birds flying. They are all different and they fly in different ways but the sensation is the same and the last one is as good as the first.” – Ernest Hemingway
We’re here to help you book the perfect hunt, and our advice doesn’t cost you a thing.
It’s said that the first time you go chukar hunting it’s for fun, after that it’s for revenge.
These non-native, beautiful birds live in some of the most desolate, rugged, and remote areas of the Western United States.
Chukar hunting is a labor of love…literally. It can be one of the most difficult hunts out there, due to where chukar live as well as their habits. These non-native, beautiful birds live in some of the most desolate, rugged, and remote areas of the Western United States. Their ideal habitat in North America consists of dry, high desert canyonland at elevations of 4,000 to 13,000 feet. They tend to stay near a water source, especially during the summer.
Couple the tough places chukar live with their quirky habits, and they qualify for one of the most demanding of upland bird hunts.
You’ll probably be putting on miles, following a wide ranging pointer along a canyon rim. Once the dog goes on point, hopefully the covey holds tight and you get a shot. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a double, or even a triple. Now comes the hard part…mark where the birds fly (they usually fly downhill), and go try to find them again. You’ll drop off the edge and into the canyon, picking your way through loose rocks looking for the cover or singles. Chukars are notorious, at this point, for running back up to the top of the rim, where hopefully you’ll get another point or two before moving on to find another covey. It would be a good idea to get in shape before your hunt.
Nevada’s most iconic upland game bird, the Chukar partridge is found throughout the state.
The bird will humble even the most experienced hunters. Because of its proliferation within the state, look for steep, rocky areas where there is a reliable water source. As the season progresses, water can be found more easily and the birds are less reliant on a single source. Try and locate areas where the birds have shelter (rocks) and feed (grasses, etc). Don’t forget to stop and listen…they usually give up their hiding spots. Also, it’s easier to start from the top and flush them down hill, rather than chasing them up the hill.
Chukars are common birds at hunting preserves.
Because they’re easy to raise and they hold well for dogs…and if you’ve hunted them at your local club, you might disagree with everything we’ve said here. However, pen raised birds act NOTHING like wild chukars, and every upland bird hunter owes themselves a wild chukar hunt or two in their lifetime. Be careful though, chukars, and the country they live in are addicting.
Grouse are widely considered the most exclusive and challenging of all game birds.
“Everybody knows…that the autumn landscape in the north woods is the land, plus a red maple, plus a ruffed grouse…subtract the grouse and the whole thing is dead.” -ALDO LEOPOLD
Grouse hunting is all about habitat…and the habitat depends on the subspecies of grouse you are hunting. It helps to get a good bird dog, and it REALLY helps to go with a good outfitter. We can help with that.
The World Slam of Grouse
European Grouse Slam – In the forests of Europe, you can hunt capercaillie, black grouse, hazel hen, and willow grouse (red grouse).
Forest Grouse Slam – The most common grouse slam is the forest variety. It includes spruce grouse, ruffed grouse, and blue grouse (now known as dusky grouse). All of these species can be found in the Western United States.
Arctic Grouse Slam (Ptarmigan) – In Alaska, you could take the willow ptarmigan, rock ptarmigan, and white-tailed ptarmigan.
Prairie Grouse Slam – In the grasslands of North and South Dakota, you could collect sage grouse, sharptail grouse, and greater and lesser prairie chickens.
Ptarmigan, Ruffed Grouse, Sharptails, Spruce Grouse and Blue Grouse
When most people think of Alaska, they think big game hunting or fishing, but Alaska upland bird hunting can be pretty awesome too! This amazing state has several species of ptarmigan, ruffed grouse, sharptail grouse, spruce grouse, and blue grouse. And don’t forget about the duck hunting in Alaska either.
It’s tough to beat a good pheasant hunt. The dogs, the friendships, the birds, the explosive cackle when a rooster flushes, the tradition, the beautiful fall weather (in most cases), it’s almost perfect.
You owe it to yourself to go on a pheasant hunt.
We have some good pheasant destinations, including hunting lodges with both pen-raised and wild birds, as well as some great hunting preserves around the country. You owe it to yourself to go on a pheasant hunt. Also, if you’re a business owner, you should consider pheasant hunting for your next corporate retreat.
Most people think of South Dakota when the subject of pheasant hunting comes up, mostly because it’s awesome!
There’s no place like South Dakota to hunt pheasants! Since 1919, the tradition of pheasant hunting has brought friends and families together in holiday-like fashion. Every year opening weekend brings unprecedented enthusiasm, excitement, and activity to cities and rural communities across the state. Are you hunting birds in South Dakota this year? We think you should.
We suggest going with a good outfitter for a great wingshooting experience.
Upland bird hunting, especially for wild quail becomes more limited each season, but can still be incredible if you go in the right place with the right person and some well trained dogs.
Walking up on a pointer locked up on a covey of quail is an incredible experience.
Quail hunting is what Arizona has become famous for in the upland hunting world. Many venture to this quail hunting mecca to target primarily scaled, Gambel’s, and Mearns’ quail. Of the four, Gambel’s quail is perhaps the most abundant and can be found throughout Arizona. Scaled quail (sometimes referred to as blue quail), can be found in eastern parts of the state. The Mearns’ quail has been known to make its habitat in lower parts of southern Arizona.
Bobwhite Quail hunts in Mexico are often combos with waterfowl and doves.
If you’ve never hunted quail before, or you’re an avid bird hunter, you’re in for a treat. We offer premier, traditional walk-up quail hunting in Mexico over pointing dogs. We guarantee that you’ve never had a quail hunting experience like this before. One sportswriter called them, “the wildest, fastest quail he had ever seen.” These can be be combo hunts with ducks and doves as well if you wish. The best time to go quail hunting in Mexico is early November through late February.
Similar methods are used for all types of upland bird hunting, be it pheasant, grouse, chukar, partridge, snipe or quail.
Basically, you’ll walk through areas with lots of cover that looks like it would hold the type of game bird you’re after. As you hunt more, you’ll begin to get a good idea of what kind of habitat holds birds. Hunting dogs aren’t absolutely necessary, but they make the experience so much more rewarding. So much so, that most hunters state that the main reason they bird hunt is to watch the dogs work.
ALWAYS know the location of your fellow hunters, including the dogs, and follow these safety precautions:
Keep your firearm’s muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
Keep your finger outside of the trigger guard until ready to shoot.
Always treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
Be sure of your target and what is in front of it and beyond it.
Wear blaze orange.
Dressing Game Birds
Read your upland bird hunting laws for your state. Some states require that you leave one wing or the head attached during transport.
Pluck feathers on lower breast and abdomen Cut through the belly skin at base of breast.
Bend bird backwards and remove all entrails.
Pluck feathers or remove feathery cape.
Dry bird and keep it cool until you get it home; then refrigerate until cooking.
The Best Bird Dog Breeds
There’s nothing quite like upland bird hunting over a well trained bird dog.
The book New England Grouse Shooting by William Harnden Foster states: “An ideal grouse gun may be defined broadly as the one that a certain hunter will find most pleasant to carry to the spot where a grouse is to be shot at, and there prove most efficient when the shot is made.” Tweak that statement just a tiny bit, and it applies perfectly to the ideal bird dog: “An ideal bird dog may be defined broadly as the one that a certain hunter will find most pleasant to follow to the spot where a game bird is to be found, and there prove most efficient at producing it for the gun.”
Here’s our list of the best gundog breeds in no particular order:
The perfect bird dog means different things to different hunters. Do you like setters, pointers or flushing dogs? Need a family dog or just a hard core hunter that lives in the kennel when it isn’t working? Are you also a duck hunter? The list goes on and on…
German hunters spent generations crossing various breeds until they perfected do-it-all, versatile bird dog sometime in the 1800s. They were so successful that, to this day, GSPs are among the top-winning breeds in competitive hunting events.
German Shorthaired Pointer
Shorthairs are a versitile, medium sized gundog. They are friendly, intelligent, hard pointing pointing bird dog with a great nose, and tons of endurance. “Noble” and “aristocratic” are words often used to describe the overall look of a shorthair. In addition, they are natural retrievers on land or water, they are proven waterfowl dogs. To top it all off, German Shorthairs make a fine family watchdog and companion.
Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
The hardworking Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, is known for the harsh, low-shedding coat the breed is named for. Outgoing, eager, and quick-witted. Griffs are honest, hardworking versatile bird dogs in the field and loving at home.
English Cocker Spaniel
This compact breed of bird dog is upbeat in the field and mellow at home. A great flusher who gets “birdy” like no other dog you’ve ever hunted behind, and lives to retrieve birds. This eager-to-please breed is popular mostly because they are quite possibly the most exciting dog to hunt over.
The Golden Retriever is one of the most lovable of the bird dogs. This Scottish beauty is serious in the field, and obedient and fun to be around at home. A perfect family dog for the hunter who likes to hunt pheasants. The only bad thing about them is that their popularity has diluted the gene pool, so if you’re looking for a good hunter be sure to do your research and find some proven field lines.
Deuthsch Drahthaar / German Wirehaird Pointer
The German Wirehaird Pointer and closely related Drahthaar are versatile gundogs with weatherproof coats. In the home, they are affectionate companions, but they demand an active lifestyle. Drahthaars and wirehairs are both a good fit for a family who enjoys outdoor activities and hunting.
If the German shorthair’s the “happy medium” of the pointing dogs, the breed that fills this role in the flushing dog division is the springer spaniel.
English Springer Spaniel
The English Springer Spaniel is a sweet-faced, lovable bird dog of great energy, stamina, and brains. Great mannered pets during the week, and solid hunting dogs on the weekends. If the German shorthair’s the “happy medium” of the pointing dogs, the breed that fills this role in the flushing dog division is the springer spaniel. Not as hyper as the cocker, but more energy and style than Labs or the Golden Retrievers.
Here’s a telling quote from The Hunting Dogs of America, written by Jeff Griffen: “If I lived north of the Mason-Dixon line and particularly liked to hunt pheasants but also went for grouse, woodcock and even ducks a few times during the season, I would never be without a well-trained Springer Spaniel. He’s just about the finest sporting dog for upland game on the American scene today…”
Labs are America’s most popular dog breed for a reason. Intelligent, eager to please, high prey drive, immune to cold weather, love to swim, bust heavy cover, athletic, superb retrievers…the list goes on and on. If you’re looking for a versatile dog to hunt, flush and retrieve birds “right out of the box,” get a lab. If you want a great family dog, get a lab. For me personally, the only thing that keeps a lab from being the perfect gundog is that they’re not natural pointers. I do understand that there are pointing labs, but I don’t have any experience with them.
Energetic and fun-loving, smaller than setters, but leggier than spaniels…the Brittany is a good fit for someone looking for an all-purpose, stylish and versatile hunting partner.
English Setters are elegant bird dogs with a sweet disposition. A veteran all-breed dog handler says, “As a breed to share one’s life and living space with, no other breed gives me more pleasure than the English Setter.” As for hunting, they can range from reckless horizon-busters, cautious close-workers and everything in-between. If you get lucky and get a good one, it will spoil you for any other breed.
A big running English Pointer locking up on a covey of quail or chukars in open country is a sight to behold.
The English Pointer is the ultimate expression of canine power and grace. They do one thing and they do it extremely well: Pointers point game birds, and they have been pointing for centuries. English Pointers are independent, stubborn, strong willed and high energy, but when they’re doing what they were bred to do, which is bird hunting in big open country, they are a beautiful sight to behold. They make exceptional quail and chukar hunting dogs for serious hunters.
Originally from Hungary, the Vizsla is an affectionate, gentle, energetic gundog built for long days in the field. The Vizsla’s a great choice for the sportsman who wants a pointing dog that’s not only eager to please but easy on the eyes, too. Vizsla’s form a tight bond with their owners and hate to be left alone. If you don’t have the time to encourage this breed’s full use of its loyalty, energy, and brain, you’re wasting a good dog.
The Weimaraner, originally bred and developed in Germany at the court of Weimar, are beautiful, friendly, obedient, and fearless bird dogs. Bloodlines have been diluted by the pet market and show dog people which makes finding a good hunting Weimaraner a crapshoot. There are still a few field trialers, and a handful of gamebird hunters kept the Weimaraner’s original purpose alive, but the breed has at best a compromised position compared to most other popular versatile breeds.
How to Cook Upland Birds
Maybe the best part of upland bird hunting is the fine cuisine, but you need some good recipes, and know how to cook your fowl.
Pheasant, snipe, quail, wild turkey, partridge, and grouse are the chicken of wild game birds. Ruffed grouse are the exception as they have a strong flavor that, in my mind, makes it far superior to pheasant or quail, which can be bland.
Cooking birds is challenging. Cooked properly, gamebirds should have a blush of pink, like a good-quality pork loin. They are great roasted or grilled, but don’t sever them rare, ore let them dry out. Pheasants are especially good poached, whether in butter or broth.
Suggested Gear List for an Upland Hunt
*The gear list is an important subject matter and does require personal contact with the outfitter prior to departing from your home.
Hunting license with required stamps, photocopy of personal ID