A chukar perched on rocks scans its surroundings
Chukar, like this one seen in the Swakane Unit of the Chelan Wildlife Area, prefer dry, rocky, steep terrain. (Alan L. Bauer)

Top 5 hunting tips for upland game birds

Our pointers for chukar, quail, pheasant, grouse, and gray partridge


“Chukars are nervous, skittish birds by nature…be quiet and stealthy…”

1. Chukar prefer rock outcroppings, grassy terraces, rocky chutes, and scrub. Hunting them from above is generally more productive because they will hold longer before taking flight, offering shot opportunities. You can also watch where they land and work down and above that location. Be sure to pick out a landmark where shot birds fall as they can be difficult to locate.

A mountain quail scans its surroundings.
Quail will run fast if the habitat allows and may or may not take flight.


“Hunt first light and the last hour of daylight…”

1. Avoid shooting low-flying birds. You’ll drop your muzzle parallel to the ground, which can create an unsafe situation for your hunting partner(s) or dog.

A rooster pheasant takes flight over a field in Eastern Washington.
Grassy areas along field or crop field edges are prime evening habitat for hunting pheasants.


“Those willing to gear up for cold weather can capitalize on lighter hunting pressure…”

1. Stealth is the name of the game with these crafty birds. A rooster pheasant can virtually disappear by weaving itself among grasses and brush if it hears you coming. The element of surprise is more apt to cause the bird to take flight and offer a shot opportunity. So move slowly and quietly, using hand signals with your partner and dog, whenever possible.

A ruffed grouse stands at alert.
Grouse are habitual in their behavior and often can be found in the same small areas year after year.


“If you locate or harvest birds one year…take note in a logbook or drop a pin on your GPS…”

1. Grouse prefer a mixed habitat of conifers, brushy undergrowth and a good dose of gravel, either natural or by way of road systems. Focus on areas that provide a combination of these elements, and especially areas exposed by direct sunlight during mid-day hours.

A trio of gray partridge is seen in a cut field.
Gray partridges, also called Huns, like to feed around the edges of grain fields and in patches of seed-bearing weeds and grasses.

Gray partridge

“When flushed, gray partridges usually don’t fly high, but they might fly far…”

1. Gray partridge hunting is a fun challenge for those who like to cover a lot of ground. Your best bet is to cover miles of decent partridge habitat in hopes of flushing a couple of coveys in a day. A well-conditioned, wide-ranging pointing dog is an immense help, and two well-conditioned, wide-ranging pointing dogs are just about twice as helpful. A gray partridge hunter, of course, must also be well-conditioned and wide-ranging.



The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.

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The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.