The 2019-20 bird hunting season is winding down. In Montana that’s past tense: hunting season has wound down.
Still, if you’re willing to travel, there are bird hunting options available in other states. And unless you’re a skier, January isn’t a bad time to travel away from Montana.
If you’re ready to drive, here are some options, listed in order of proximity.
Idaho. Chukar, gray partridge (Huns) and California (valley) quail seasons remain open through Jan. 31. Pheasant season, however, is closed.
Wyoming. The season for chukars and Huns remains open through Jan. 31. I know from experience there are a lot of rarely hunted chukar in Wyoming, but January in Wyoming can be a brutal time for bird hunting. If the weather is decent, consider walking steep hillsides in the Big Horn Basin. There’s plenty of public land, and plenty of birds.
Washington. Chukar, huns, valley quail and pheasant are open in the eastern part of the state through Jan. 20.
Oregon. Mountain grouse, chukar and huns, California quail, and, in limited counties, mountain quail are open until Jan. 31.
Nevada. Chukar and Huns, as well as Gambel’s, California and mountain quail, are open through the first Sunday in February. Since I remain o-fer mountain quail, and I’m beginning to take note of the ways Doll, my 9-year-old English setter, is beginning to slow down, I might try and make this marathon trip on the Martin Luther King weekend. Together we’ve successfully hunted the other five species of quail native to the continental United States.
Colorado. Pheasant and quail are open through Jan. 31 in the southeastern part of the state.
Nebraska. Pheasant and bobwhite quail are open until Jan. 31. Nebraska isn’t a public land state, but there are plenty of places to hunt. Federal waterfowl production areas, state wildlife management areas and private land opened through the CRP program give hunters options. The state Game and Parks Department has a map available online at outdoornebraska.gov. Focus on the southern counties bordering Kansas.
I saw a post on Instagram the other day from a Montana quail hunter in the same boat as Doll and I — five out of six — only he and his veteran dog lacked a bobwhite. They were headed for Nebraska, the state closest to Montana with bobwhite, before season’s end.
Kansas. As long as you’re on the plains, Kansas pheasant and quail seasons run through Jan. 31. The quail are mostly bobwhite, but there are scaled quail in the southwest corner of the state.
Now for the nice weather states.
California. California and Gambel’s quail seasons run through Jan. 26, as does the desert chukar season. You can also still hunt mountain quail in some parts of the state, though that season closed in October for much of the northern part of California, and the Eastern Sierra.
Remember, California is now all non-toxic ammunition for all hunting. Also, the state’s new firearm laws make it difficult, if not impossible, for a nonresident to purchase ammunition. Unlike residents, nonresidents are allowed to bring ammunition into the state, however. So stock up on steel along the way.
Arizona. There are three species of quail here — Gambel’s, scaled and Montezuma — and all remain open until Feb. 9. I just returned from there, and numbers are decent for Gambel’s and Montezuma. Scaled quail have been down for a number of years, however.
New Mexico. The Land of Enchantment may be nirvana for late season upland hunters. The weather’s great, there’s plenty of public land and the season for four species of quail — Gambel’s, scaled, bobwhite and Montezuma — runs through Feb. 15. New Mexico is the only state that has hunting seasons for four native quail species.
Rob Breeding is the editor of www.mthookandbullet.com.