2023 Southeast Montana upland game bird forecast
September 29, 2023
The area is coming out of a few tough years of drought, but so far this year the area has received ample moisture across a majority of the region. This has resulted in better grass and forb growth, which has equated to much better habitat conditions compared to previous years. Once again, the region had a lot of grasshoppers, as well. With good habitat and forage options across the landscape, birds will be spread throughout the country, and hunters may have to travel around. This may give the illusion that numbers are worse than they actually are. With the conditions being so good, birds will be able to make a go of it just about anywhere and will not necessarily be in the typical places that hunters would find them on a “normal” year.
There are many areas within the region that experienced severe thunderstorms with torrential rains, hail and high winds. This kind of weather can have very adverse effects on nesting hens and young broods, especially in localized areas. It has been evident from field observations that birds had to initiate second nesting attempts, more than likely a result of these localized weather conditions. Hunters should be prepared to be adaptable in the event that their favorite spot was the recipient of some of this weather.
The good thing about upland birds is that they have a high fecundity and are able to rebound very quickly if given adequate conditions.