The Problem with Upland Hunting, from Feather and Fin…

Lynn Bogue Hunt grouse painting, coming up at Copley Fine Art Auctions
What will become of upland hunting? Painting by Lynn Bogue Hunt

Here’s a real interesting post from over at Fin and Feather. I think our biggest problem is habitat: Finding wild birds, and places to hunt them, is getting harder across the US. As this trend continues, what will become of our sport? Please read this entire post and then let me know what you think.

The Problem with Upland Hunting

Spencer Knibbe, Fin and Feather

Is upland hunting headed towards extinction?

Running a website that focuses on upland hunting and fly fishing has been a unique study in the similarities, traditions, and differences between the two industries.

Fly fishing is an exciting and rapidly growing space. The industry and its participants have done a tremendous job in positioning  and continuously evolving the sport – as indicated by the passionate media presence, healthy gear market, dynamic newcomer outreach efforts, and impactful conservation initiatives.

In stark contrast, the upland hunting industry is characterized by growing obscurity, stodginess, and a general sense of decline…particularly in the world of ruffed grouse hunting which is a mere fraction of what it was in the days of Burton Spiller’s storied coverts. Upland continues to be left behind while the hunting industry as a whole is experiencing an uptick in participation rates….

Read the entire piece now

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8 thoughts on “The Problem with Upland Hunting, from Feather and Fin…

  1. As a new upland hunter, last season was my first, I’ve found it hard to figure out where to hunt. I know of only 2 stocked wildlife areas in my area of western Oregon. I’ve asked several people who have hunted in the past, and not too many are willing to help. Many are too old and don’t hunt anymore. I don’t have a dog, which makes it a little tougher, but not impossible. I have had one gentleman invite me to hunt with him and his dogs when we both pulled up at the same place at the same time.
    I believe there is plenty of interest, as ODFW puts on several clinics for beginning upland hunters that all sold out. But after the class, we seem to be on our own.

  2. Yeah – that’s usually the hardest thing to figure out. Maybe Pheasants Forever has a chapter out your way? If they do, some of those guys may be willing to help you out. Check the Pheasants Forever website.

    Good luck.


  3. Its an interesting article and I agree, upland hunting is in a difficult situation. I have to wondering if a boost in popularity would be of any help though. Just look at the boom in duck hunters lately, thanks to Duck Dynasty. I’ve never seen so many guys out there as I have this season. Along with the hunters, new blinds filled with empty hulls, plastic buckets, rigid foam to sit on and trails turned inside out by 4wheelers. How many of these neophytes, desperate to be successful in the new sport they’ve invested in, water swat birds or take long shots only to realize just how hard ducks die? Have groups like DU and Delta Waterfowl seen a jump in memberships?

    Flyfishing being so trendy seems to help. The new fishermen seem to want to get involved in the conservation side. But then there’s no catch and release in hunting.

    I think comparing upland to other types of hunting is flawed as well. It will never be as popular as big game. For just that reason, its small game. Many of my deer hunting buddies would describe me as “just a bird hunter”. Regardless of the fact I would bury them in days a field and that’s not including scouting or just running dogs. Upland hunting(or at least grouse) takes walking in thick cover all day to get maybe a couple tricky shots. There’s no blind or tree stand to hang out in all morning.

    Groups like ones mentioned in the article should put their efforts into promoting conservation. The issue is always the same with any game animal that is having problems, habitat. We need more habitat, not industry buzz. If we have that the rest will take care of itself.

    Thanks for the rant.


  4. Greg,
    I do not agree with the Feather and Fin article. Sure, most of us can’t hunt from out our back door, but there is so much habitat available if one does a bit of homework and is willing to travel a little. Also, I am a bit selfish about bird hunting in that I like the fact that fewer people are doing it these days. It just means less pressure for the rest of us. Just look at fly fishing since it has become so popular in the last 20 years. It is nearly impossible to be alone on a quality trout stream in most of North America.
    Yes, the fewer of us the better, and for the birds too.
    Michael Tabor

  5. Michael-

    While I agree that less pressure is nice, I think fewer upland hunters will mean fewer people trying to conserve the habitat where grouse, quail, woodcock, and pheasants thrive. And as we loose habitat, we’ll loose birds.

    Thanks for he comment.


  6. Yeah – but I think industry buzz generates interest, and the more interest people have, the more they’ll do to conserve the habitat.

    Just look at what has happened to pheasants in PA & NY. Both states used to raise and release tons of birds. Today, they don’t. If there was more interest in pheasant hunting (rather than deer & turkeys), the politicians would be pressured to keep the stocking programs up and running.

    Thanks for the comment.


  7. “Yeah – but I think industry buzz generates interest, and the more interest people have, the more they’ll do to conserve the habitat.”

    Time will tell if the buzz surrounding waterfowl lately translates into more hunters pushing for stronger conservation. You certainly don’t hear much from the Robertson camp in that regard though.

    I cringe at the thought of an A&E show with some dude and his birddog.

    ps the site is great, thanks for keeping it going

  8. I think it will. I remember when fly fishing took off, and it’s still popular today. Those guys are doing more and more to conserve waterways and push for access rights.

    There goes my idea for a show – I was going to walk around in blaze orange and hunting pants all the time, take my dog everywhere…

    Thanks for the comment and the kind words.


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