Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Hatch Hopes

We are now entering our second stage of bird hunter worries: the spring hatch.  I fret from November-March whenever a blizzard wreaks havoc on my favorite uplands.  This past winter was pretty darn tolerable from chukar country out west all the way to the grouse woods in Minnesota.  Of course there were pockets that got hammered by a spring blizzard, but for the most part, the vulnerable birds like pheasants and Huns did OK.  The natives like sharptail and ruffs, always survive to some extent, even in the worst of winters.

Now we are entering phase two, which can also make or break a season for bird hunters.  There seems to be an abundance of storms, almost daily here in central Montana.  We haven't had any killer rains which create flash floods wiping out nests completely.  Multiple days of cold, wet weather hasn't occurred either, so that is a positive.  It has been warm enough to foster good insect growth, so once the chicks do break out of their eggshells, they should have plenty to eat.  The countryside is green with plant growth, so the cover should be good for both spring nesting and for hunting this fall.

I feel for the folks in the south, especially Texas. They are just trying to save their houses and livelihoods from the endless severe storms and flooding. Upland bird populations are the last thing on their minds right now, so in some respects this post is petty and selfish.

Keep your fingers crossed for the next few weeks. Not too much rain and no devastating summer hail storms. There will always be successful hatches and subsequent good hunting come autumn in certain regions, but with a little luck, we will all have our wishes come true.

Bird hunters are a demanding lot; we want adequate moisture for good green-up, but not so much that the spring hatch is  a washout.