Grouse Up..partridge Down

When North Dakota’s grouse and partridge seasons open Sept. 11, hunters should expect to see more grouse than last year, but not as many partridge.

Aaron Robinson, upland game biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Dickinson, said sharp-tailed grouse numbers have rebounded from the past two years, and are similar to 2007-08. “Sharptails are not going to be everywhere, but there will be more than last year,” Robinson said. “This year’s age ratio of juveniles to adults (three per adult) is extremely high, which indicates better production than the last couple years and an increasing population.”

Preliminary results from July and August roadside counts indicate sharp-tailed grouse are up nearly 47 percent statewide from last year, with the number of broods observed up 30 percent. The average brood size is about the same as in 2008, but the age ratio is up 43 percent.

Hungarian partridge were negatively influenced by the wet spring and the past two severe winters. Robinson said the statewide population is down about 35 percent from 2009, and the number of broods observed is down 38 percent. “Huns need dry, warm weather to flourish, and we haven’t had that for a few years,” he added. “We need mild weather over the next few years to bring these birds back.”

North Dakota’s spring ruffed grouse survey indicated a 10 percent population increase statewide compared to 2009. The number of male grouse heard drumming in the Pembina Hills was up 23 percent from last year, while the Turtle Mountains had a 4 percent increase. Overall, the 2010 count was 98 percent higher than two years ago.

The Turtle Mountains in Bottineau and Rolette counties and the Pembina Hills area of Cavalier and Pembina counties should provide ruffed grouse hunters with the best opportunities this fall.

The sage grouse season will remain closed in 2010 due to a low population. In addition, the prairie chicken season will be closed this fall due to low bird numbers.

Shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Sharptails, ruffed grouse and Huns each have a daily limit of three and a possession limit of 12.

Hunters, regardless of age, must have a fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate and general game and habitat license. In addition, hunters age 16 and older need a small game license.

For further season information and regulations, hunters should consult the North Dakota 2010-11 Small Game Hunting Guide.