Bird Hunting in Nevada

Bird Hunting in Nevada

It would be a poor gamble to overlook bird hunting in Nevada. 

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 the 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.

Residents looking to go bird hunting in Nevada will need to purchase a general hunting license for $39. In 2018, the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) removed the requirement of purchasing an Upland Game bird stamp. Now, the purchase of your general license includes your ability to hunt upland birds. A resident youth combination license for those between the ages of 12 to 17 sets you back $15. 

For the non-resident, you may purchase a combination annual license for $156 or a  single day license for $24; each additional day is an extra $8. The non-resident youth combination license is $15. 

Chukar

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. Because of its proliferation within the state, 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. There is a daily bag limit of 6.

Blue and Ruffed Grouse

The blue grouse is now recognized as two separate species within the same family, dusky and sooty. 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. The NDOW asks that you submit one wing to them. They usually have a drop box at their office locations or provide wing barrels.

Sage Grouse 

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. 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.

Himalayan Snowcock 

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 never 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. 

Quail 

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 14 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. 

Pheasant season opens November 1 and closes November 30. There is a daily bag limit of 2. 

Related Conservation and Non-Profit Organizations for Bird Hunting in Nevada

Ruffed Grouse Society

North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA)

Pheasants Forever

Quail Forever

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. 

Last modified: October 22, 2018

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