Upland bird hunting

Photo of a hunter holding a harvested pheasant kneeling nose-to-nose with her dog.
Photo by Sophie Matterand

The cackling lift-off of a brightly colored rooster pheasant; the whir of wing-beats as a half-dozen quail burst, one by one, from a thick tangle of Russian olive; the startling explosion of gray and brown created by a covey of gray partridge blasting off in unison. These and a wide variety other “adrenaline moments” await hunters during an overlapping series of upland bird seasons that extend through five months here in the Evergreen State.

The upland bird species available to Washington’s hunters include ring-neck pheasant, California quail, northern bobwhite quail, mountain quail, chukar and gray partridge, blue, ruffed and spruce grouse. Although they share certain similarities, each is different from the others in some ways that are important to hunters, from their size, coloration and habitat requirements to their abundance and distribution in Washington to the best techniques, guns and dogs for hunting them.

Depending on what and where you hunt, Washington’s upland bird hunting seasons open as early as September 1 and may run into late-January, but it’s never too early in the year to familiarize—or re-familiarize—yourself with their habits and habitats, and to begin planning your strategies for the challenges and rewards of hunting Washington’s upland birds.