If youвЂ™re under the age of 16 — and hunting birds sounds fun to you — this fall might be the perfect time to give it a try.
On June 9, members of the Utah Wildlife Board approved some new opportunities to hunt upland game.В If youвЂ™ll be 15 years of age or younger on the following days, you can get out early — before other hunters can hunt — and hunt the following birds:
- On Sept. 17, you can hunt chukar and Hungarian partridge.
The opportunity for young hunters to hunt partridge happens one week before the general partridge seasons open on Sept. 24.
- On Oct. 15, you can hunt pheasant and quail.
The opportunity for young hunters to hunt pheasant and quail happens three weeks before the general pheasant and quail seasons open on Nov. 5.
Justin Dolling, upland game and migratory game bird coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says holding special youth days — before the birds have been hunted and when adults arenвЂ™t allowed to hunt — is a great way to get young people interested and involved in hunting.
вЂњUpland game hunting has been called the вЂgateway hunt,вЂ™вЂќ Dolling says.В вЂњIn addition to being an activity you can enjoy the rest of your life, hunting upland game often leads to young people getting excited about hunting in general.вЂќ
And since most of UtahвЂ™s pheasant hunting happens on private land,Dolling says the youth pheasant hunting day will give young hunters and their parents experience in approaching landowners about hunting their property.
вЂњIn the process,вЂќ he says, вЂњthese young hunters will learn more about the vital role landowners play in conserving habitat for wildlife.”
Longer hunts, more upland game
Another change the board approved will benefit hunters of all ages:
- The length of the hunting season has been extended for most of UtahвЂ™s upland game species.В And the number of birds, rabbits and hares you can have in your possession has also increased.
Dolling says biologists want to give UtahвЂ™s hunters more time to hunt.В And upland game are the perfect group of species to offer hunters that opportunity.
Whether itвЂ™s hunted or not, Dolling says between 60 to 70 percent of an upland game population dies every year from natural causes.В Most of the birds, rabbits and hares hunters take each year would have died from natural causes if hunters hadnвЂ™t taken them.
Fortunately, upland game species also have a high reproductive rate. вЂњTheir reproductive rate is what keeps upland game populations going,вЂќ Dolling says.В вЂњThe reproductive rate among the 30 to 40 percent of the population that survives each year is usually enough to bring the population back to the point it was before the losses.вЂќ
At the June 9 meeting, the board also set rules and permit numbers for the 2012 spring turkey hunt.В Continuing UtahвЂ™s current hunting season structure — where regional limited-entry hunts are held in April, followed by a general statewide hunt in May — is among the rules the board approved.
The current season structure will continue for at least the next two years.
You can see all of the upland game recommendations the board approved in the 2011 – 2012 Utah Upland Game Guidebook.
The free guidebook should be available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks starting June 27.