The Upland Almanac reports swelling numbers of prairie chicken and sharp-tailed grouse lek for the coming season based on figures from 2016. Counting in the 181-square-mile, Fort Pierre National Grassland, Tom Keer has stated that last year boasted record populations. The Prairie chickens in this area have “…struggled throughout most of North America for the last half-century” says Keer. However male counts have grown by 19% within roughly 12 months. This growth is attributed to a mild winter and better habitats along with greater rainfall, reports Keer. The “Wing box collection surveys showed the ratio of juveniles to adults was about 1.29 to 1”.

With counts growing state-wide and nation-wide, Cronkhite Farm is looking to have a very good year. Observations at the Farm have shown that local populations reflect this larger growth, allowing hunters to have the option to get prairie chickens and sharp-tails outside of the regular pheasant flushes. As the mild winter continues to give way to an early Spring (despite Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction), we’ll be keeping a sharp eye on bird counts with great anticipation.

Keer, Tom “Flushes & Noteworthy Points.” Upland Almanac Spring 2017 Published: 6. Print.