Upland game is a term used in reference to hunting upland birds such as quail, pheasant, grouse, woodcock, prairie chicken, chukar, grey partridge, and other. These upland birds prefer to live on the ground in heavy cover which is why dogs are often used to help find them while hunting. Some hunters prefer hunting wild upland birds, which is popular in less populated parts of the country, while other hunters prefer hunting farmed birds.

Pheasant hunting is the most popular form of upland hunting and takes place in open fields where pheasants take shelter. However, upland birds can be found in a wide variety of habitats which is one of the reasons why upland hunting is so popular. 

Variables to Consider When Hunting

Location: Because of the wide variety of habitats that upland birds call home, it is important to choose your location based on the type of species you want to hunt. If you are hunting pheasants or prairie grouse, you will find them mainly in the midwest. However, other upland game such as partridge and quail are more likely to be found in the Western parts of the country.

Solunar Calendar: According to a theory laid out by John Alden Knight in 1926, animal movement is affected by the position and fullness of the moon.  This theory was said to be used by hunters and fishermen long before Knight’s theory was published and is still widely accepted and adopted today.

Time of Year: The time of year to hunt will vary depending on the type of upland species you are hunting. If pheasant hunting, mid-fall through early winter are the best times of year for hunting.

Time of Day: While many hunters prefer the early morning and evening hours for hunting upland game, don't make the mistake of packing it in to soon. Often times, after most of the hunters break for lunch, the sounds of silence bring the birds back out from their hiding places.

Temperature: The first cold spell of the season can produce some of the best hunting conditions for upland game. Cold weather is also helpful when hunting with dogs because they can smell for longer distances. 

Barometric Pressure: Birds are very sensitive to changes in air pressure and instinctively take shelter if there is a large drop. Barometric pressure is also thought to affect the flight of birds, making their ability to fly better on days of low pressure. 

General Weather Conditions: As a general rule of thumb, the crumbier the weather, the better for hunting upland birds. Be ready to brace the cold, wind, and rain if you are serious about bagging one of these birds. Mud and snow can also make for good hunting conditions as the birds are easier to track. If you are hunting on a warm dry day, look for upland gam near areas with plenty of fresh water. 

Wind: Unlike other animals, high winds are a plus when hunting upland birds. The sound of the wind covers your tracks and hides your location from the birds. Use the wind in your favor when hunting these birds by letting it serve as a noise camouflage.


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