Ring-necked Pheasant and Grey Partridge Hunting Forecast for Alberta—Fall 2023

Grey partridge (Huns) numbers are higher than average and within the upper tier compared to the past 12 years. In fact, the average partridge covey size per flush (n = 11.7) is the highest on record since we began these surveys in 2012. On the other hand, pheasant numbers per km walked are down compared to the past few years, although the number of flushes per hour is about the same. Overall, 59 pheasants were flushed while covering 62 km over 17.8 hours of effort, for a flush rate of 1.46 encounters per hour (single or covey). More survey effort went into areas with grey partridge compared to pheasants, with participants covering 68.1 km over 20.3 hours returning 2.32 partridge encounters per hour (singles or coveys).

 Beginning in 2020 we altered our survey methods by reaching out to the hunting dog community and asking for their assistance with gathering data. This expanded the area of coverage and effort (e.g., survey time and distance walked) contributing to these annual forecasts. Over time, this will provide a broader geographic perspective of how the current hunting season for gamebirds will appear compared to previous years. However, this change in protocol makes it difficult to compare results from 2020 onward with those generated from 2019 and prior years (see red vertical line on below table). Volunteers were encouraged to survey areas throughout the entire province where at least one species of gamebird occurs. However, not all gamebirds are found in all habitats, and there can be quite a bit of variability among the areas surveyed within the same year. We provide summarized results in the tables below.

Upland hunters have every reason to be optimistic and put in the effort this fall! Our volunteers moved eight partridge and one pheasant for every kilometer walked, so with boot leather on the ground it will be a rewarding year!

Search for suitable habitat that is preferred by wild birds and seek landowner permissions to foster additional opportunities. In addition, there are lots of pheasant hunting opportunities on the Provincial Pheasant Release Sites ranging from Peace River to Medicine Hat. Visit the ACA website to plan your hunts at over 40 sites.

We wish everyone a safe and productive upland hunting season! A big thank you goes out to all the volunteers and ACA staff who helped pull this year’s survey together! If you are interested in participating with next year’s fall forecast, please email [email protected].