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N.D. sharptail, partridge numbers decline

North Dakota hunters likely will encounter a few less sharptails this year because of drought conditions during the spring breeding season. North Dakota's grouse season opened Saturday, Sept. 9. (Photo/ Craig Bihrle, North Dakota Game and Fish Department)1 / 2
R.J. Gross, North Dakota Game and Fish Department2 / 2

Pheasants tend to be the focus of a majority of upland game hunters in North Dakota, but with that opener still a few weeks off—season opens Saturday, Oct. 7—hunters now can take the field for grouse and partridge.

North Dakota's grouse and partridge seasons opened Saturday, Sept. 9.

According to R.J. Gross, upland game biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, late July and August roadside counts show sharptails observed per 100 miles are down 29 percent from last year, while Hungarian partridge are down 62 percent.

"Hunting will be slower than last season in most of the state, and all indications are that hunters will see significantly lower numbers statewide," Gross said. "There will be localized areas of good hunting opportunities, but in general hunting will be fair at best."

Observers recorded 1.4 sharptail broods and 13.3 birds per 100 miles. Average brood size was 4.9. For partridge, observers recorded 0.3 broods and 4.1 birds per 100 miles. Average brood size was 9.3.

Hot, dry early summer weather likely reduced prairie grouse hatches in many areas due to poor habitat conditions and low insect production.

Ruffed grouse, a forest bird, are a secondary species in North Dakota and limited to areas such as the Turtle Mountains and Pembina Hills. Drumming counts were up in the Turtle Mountains, and good numbers of broods were reported in the Pembina Hills.

Shooting hours for North Dakota's grouse season 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.

For hunters wondering about pheasant prospects, spring crowing counts were down 14 percent from last year and Game and Fish just recently wrapped up its summer brood surveys. Results from the survey should be available in the next few week and will offer a better picture of fall hunting prospects.

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