Nevada offers a wide range of upland bird hunting opportunities from the iconic Chukar to the obscure Himalayan Snowcock
Nevada is probably the most overlooked state in the U.S. when it comes to hunting. Most visitors limit their recreational vision of the state to skiing at one of the many top-class resorts in the Tahoe region or making bad decisions in Las Vegas. Absent those two attractions, the common belief is that the state is one big empty desert.
Those of us who live in the Silver State know better. With more mountain ranges than any other state and an abundance of public land to access them, we are spoiled. Nevada’s terrain can be tough and unforgiving. The rewards, however, can be lasting memories.
The upland bird hunting opportunities here are a prime example of what makes Nevadans so protective. We have some of the most diverse bird populations and generous seasons to hunt them. From the greater sage grouse in the lower elevations to the elusive Himalayan snowcock which is found only in the imposing Ruby Mountains, Nevada offers intriguing possibilities for the upland bird hunter.
|Species*||Season||Daily / Possession Limit||Notes|
|Sage grouse||Varies by area; see regulations for details||2 / 4||Some areas are closed to non-residents|
|Himalayan Snowcock||Sept 1 – Nov 30, 2020||2 / 2||Free-use permit required; available online|
|Mourning and white-winged dove||Sept 1 – Oct 30, 2020||15 / 45 combined||HIP number required|
|Dusky, sooty, and ruffed grouse||Sept 1 – Dec 31, 2020||3 / 9 combined||Wing or head must remain attached during transport for identification|
|Chukar and Hungarian partridge||Oct 10, 2020 – Feb 7, 2021||6 / 18 combined||—|
|California and Gambel’s quail||Oct 10, 2020 – Feb 7, 2021||10 / 30 combined||—|
|Mountain quail||Oct 10, 2020 – Feb 7, 2021||2 / 6||—|
|Ring-necked pheasant||Nov 1 – 30, 2020||2 / 6||Roosters only|
|Rabbit (cottontail, pygmy, and white-tailed jackrabbit)||Oct 10, 2020 – Feb 28, 2021||10 / 30 combined **||** Pygmy rabbit limited to 2 / 6|
Nevada’s most iconic upland game bird, the chukar partridge, is found throughout the state. Known for its distinct call, the bird will humble even the most experienced hunters. 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 dependent on a single source.
Try and locate areas where the birds have shelter and feed. Don’t forget to stop and listen—they usually give away their location. If you can handle it, it’s easier to start from the top and flush them downhill, rather than chasing them up the hill.
The season for chukar opens the second week in October and closes the first weekend of February.
Blue and Ruffed Grouse
The blue grouse is now recognized as two separate species within the same family, dusky grouse and sooty grouse. The sooty grouse is found in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the dusky is found within the mountain ranges of Nevada’s interior. They are a reverse migratory bird which means that they move into the high elevations in the snowy, winter months. You can find them in the aspen groves and lower elevations from spring to early fall. They feed primarily during this time on insects and berries. Look for aspen groves and pay special attention to the edges of the trail. They like to eat the insects that are found on dirt paths and roads.
Ruffed grouse are found primarily in the northeastern portion of the state. Areas such as the Jarbidge Wilderness are great for finding these birds.
The season opens September 1 and closes December 31 with a daily bag limit of 3 combined forest grouse. The NDOW asks that you submit one wing to them. They usually have a drop box at their office locations or provide wing barrels in the field.
In some areas of Nevada you can easily find sage grouse in abundance. In others, they are scarce. Due to this, there is a limited season that is restricted to certain geographical portions of the state. The season usually starts in mid-September and runs into early October. Some of the areas are closed to non-residents, so make sure you check before you hunt.
There is a daily bag limit of 2 birds. The NDOW asks that you submit one wing to them for study. They usually have a drop box at their office locations or offer wing barrels.
This rarely-seen species may be found only in the Ruby Mountains of eastern Nevada. The Himalayan Snowcock were introduced in the early 1960s and have a claimed population of 250 to 500 birds. They live above the tree line and are notoriously wary. Hunters claim to have seem them but can rarely get close. For those who have unlocked the riddle of the hunting strategy, they are regaled as a prized trophy.
Watch the film “Holy Grail – A Himalayan Snowcock Film“
The season opens September 1 and closes November 30 with a daily bag limit of 2. You must obtain a free-use permit prior to hunting.
There are three species of quail in Nevada: California, Gambel’s, and mountain quail. The California quail is primarily found in the western part of Nevada. Males are distinguishable from females by the black face outlined in bold white stripes and the larger, comma-shaped head plume, while females are plainer brown and lack the facial markings, having a relatively shorter and fairly straight topknot. Gambel distribution in Nevada includes Clark, Lincoln and Nye Counties. They are similar in color pattern and size to California quail, but male Gambel’s quail have a prominent black belly patch. The topknot of mountain quail is straight and long compared to California or Gambel’s quail. The NDOW is interested in collecting harvest information on mountain quail throughout Nevada and requests that hunters contact them with their harvest numbers.
The season opens October 10 and closes February 4 with a daily bag limit of 10, singly or in aggregate of all three species. You may not, however, bag more than 2 mountain quail in a day.
Other Species for Bird Hunting in Nevada
The Hungarian partridge is found primarily in the northeastern portion of the state. The season for Hungarian partridge opens the second week in October and closes the first weekend of February. There is a daily bag limit of 6 combined with any chukar taken that day.
Pheasant season opens November 1 and closes November 30. There is a daily bag limit of 2 roosters.
Project Upland Magazine Content from Nevada
To start, Nevada is home to Travis Warren host of the Upchukar Podcast. It is also home to chukar hunting film from the 2020 release schedule, Chukar Chasers. You can catch various articles and podcasts that originated from this chukar hunting mecca. More recent work includes upcoming content in the Winter 2020 Issue of Project Upland Magazine.
Related Conservation and Non-Profit Organizations for Bird Hunting in Nevada
Nevada Hunting License Fees
|Combination (hunting/fishing)||$75 (general)|
|Apprentice hunting license||$15||$15|
$8 for consecutive days
The Hunter Education Course and Dog Training for Bird Hunting in Nevada
Anyone born after January 1, 1960, is required to provide proof of Hunter Education in order to purchase a Nevada hunting license. You may take the hunter education course online. There is an option of obtaining a free apprentice license for those residents ages 12 to 17 if they have never obtained a hunting license or been through hunter education.
You may train your dog for bird hunting in Nevada from August 1 to April 15. Only firearms shooting blank cartridges or shells can be used while a hunting season is not in progress for such wildlife. You will need a valid hunting license and may only use privately owned game birds.
The bird hunting season dates, game bird species available, and other information is subject to change. The article may not reflect this. Please visit the Nevada Department of Wildlife for the most up-to-date information on bird hunting in Nevada.
Travis lives in Spanish Springs, Nevada with his wife and two daughters. He is the host of the Upchukar Podcast, a show that highlights the pursuit of Chukar hunting, a prolific and challenging upland game bird found in the Western US. Along with the website Upchukar.com, Travis documents his travels and experiences while hunting in the West.