My Dad and I went pheasant and quail hunting together during Autumn months on country farm fields in Michigan, sometimes with a local guide with a dog to flush out birds, usually a Spaniel. We had our own 12-gauge shotguns loaded with birdshot and hunting gear. It is some of my best memories. We always bagged several birds and would have a family feast with roast pheasant, wild rice with mushrooms, baked acorn squash, green beans, biscuits with fruit preserves, garden salad, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream for dessert (see recipes at the end).
Game birds are excellent roasted and delicious eating, non-gamey tasting and a little sweeter than chicken or turkey.
Upland hunting involves game bird hunting of non-aquatic fowl such as pheasant, grouse, quail, and partridge. Hunters must purchase state hunting licenses, follow state regulations of bird limits, and only hunt during specified season dates.
Upland hunting is a popular sport by men, women, and youth of all economic classes in the U.S. and Canada. It has a reputation for being a luxury sport in some countries. It is also very popular in Wales, Scotland, England, Ireland, Scandinavia, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Spain, Italy, and elsewhere.
When hunting proper gear and safety are critical. Anyone going hunting should be properly trained in gun use and safety. The outdoors, cold weather, and seclusion in the country can also pose serious risks, accidents can happen. Hunters should wear bright orange vests to avoid being mistaken as game animals.
When in the outdoors certain gear is essential such as good hiking boots and socks, thick coat, down vest, outdoor pants, Gore-tex and fleece layers, hat, gloves, sunscreen, and sunglasses. It is wise to carry binoculars, bottled water, hunting knife, first aid kit, compass, maps, cell phone, GPS, lighter, rain gear, flash light, toilet paper, and non-perishable food snacks. You may have to start a fire to keep warm.
Be sure to learn the hunting regulations for the state you are in. Hiring a local guide with a trained bird dog is a good idea. Obtain maps of the area.
Popular Upland Game Birds
Upland game birds are found in high and hilly areas near woods, fields, marshes, farmland, and grasslands.
Pheasant – a larger game bird common in temperate regions of North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. They inhabit open woodlands and grain fields, near brushy cover. They feed in small flocks eating seeds, berries, buds, grain, fruit, leaves, insects, and small animals. Males are larger with bright colorful plumage.
Grouse – are a larger game bird with a plump body and feathered legs. Males are larger and exhibit elaborate plumage. Grouse inhabit temperate regions in forests, fields, and mountainsides. They feed on seeds, berries, grain, fruit, buds, insects and small animals. Grouse are abundant in the northern U.S., Canada, British Isles, Scandinavia, and north central Europe.
Quail – medium sized short tailed game bird that inhibit open country and brushy borders. Quail meat and eggs are considered a delicacy. Quail are common in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. They feed on seeds, berries, fruit, leaves, buds, roots, and insects.
Partridge – a medium sized ground dwelling game bird common in farmland and grasslands in North America, Europe, and Asia. Both sexes look alike with grey or brown plumage and forage on seeds and insects.
Best States For Upland Bird Hunting
Upland bird hunting is a national pastime in every state. Some states though are known as the best locations for game birds, such as:
Southwest – Arizona, Nevada, Utah
West – California, Oregon, Alaska
Rocky Mountains – Montana, Idaho, Wyoming
Central – South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma
Great Lakes – Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin
Northeast – Maine
One of the best multi-species bird hunting states and perhaps the best grouse habitat in the U.S. Montana has millions of acres available for hunting.
Grouse season – September 1 to January 1, limit 3 per day, 12 total possession
Pheasant – October 7 to January 1, limit 3 per day, 9 possession
Partridge – September 1 to January 1, 8 per day
A major grouse destination with a large population. Wyoming is an excellent ground for upland bird hunting. The state has 3 million acres of land available for hunting.
Grouse – Sept 1 to Dec 1, 3/day, 9 possession
Pheasant – Nov –Dec, 3/day, 9 possession
Partridge – Sept 15 to Feb 28, 5/day, 15 possession
Major bird hunting destination with abundant hunting land available.
Pheasant- Oct 14 to Dec 31, 3/day, 9 possession
Quail –Sept 16 to Jan 31, 10/day, 30 possession
Grouse- Aug 30 to Jan 31, 4/day, 12 possession
Partridge – Sept 16 to Jan 31, 8/day, 24 possession
A quail hunting destination with millions of acres available for hunting. Desert habitat.
Quail- Oct 13 to Feb 11, 15/day, 45 possession.
Grouse- Sept 1 to Nov 5, 3/day, 9 possession
Pheasant –Sept 1 to Sep 15, 2/day, 6 possession
Pheasant- Nov 1 to Nov 30, 2/day, 6 possession
Partridge- Oct 14 to Feb 4, 6/day, 18 possession
Grouse- Sept 1 to Dec 31, 3/day, 9 possession
Quail- Oct 14 to Feb 4, 10/day, 30 possession
Pheasant- Nov 4 to Dec 3, 2/day, 6 possession
Partridge- Sept 30 to Feb 15, 5/day, 15 possession
Grouse- Sept 1 to Dec 31, 4/day, 12 possession
Quail- Nov 4 to Dec 31, 5/day, 15 possession
Named the “Pheasant Capital of America” for its large pheasant population and 12 million of acres available for hunting.
Pheasant- Oct 21 to Jan 31, 3/day, 15 possession
Partridge- Sept 16 to Jan 7, 5/day, 15 possession
Grouse- Sept 16 to Jan 7, 3/day, 15 possession
Underrated hunting destination.
Pheasant- Oct 7 to Jan 7, 3/day, 12 possession
Partridge- Sept 9 to Jan 7, 3/day, 12 possession
Grouse- Sept 9 to Jan 7, 3/day, 12 possession
One of the top destinations for grouse with 2.6 million acres of land available for hunting. Excellent pheasant hunting as well.
Pheasant- Oct 14 to Jan 1, 2/day, 6 possession
Partridge- Sept 30 to Oct 8, 5/day, 10 possession
Grouse- Sept 16 to Jan 1, 5/day, 10 possession
Known for pheasant and quail hunting with over 1 million acres of land available for hunting.
Pheasant- Nov 11 to Jan 31, 2/day
Quail- Nov 11 to Jan 31, 4 /day
Pheasant- Oct 28 to Jan 31, 3/day, 12 possession
Partridge- Oct 28 to Jan 31, 3/day, 12 possession
Grouse- Sept 1 to Jan 31, 3/day, 12 possession
Quail- Oct 28 to Jan 31, 6/day, 24 possession
Pheasant- Dec 1 to Jan 31, 2/day, 4 possession
Quail- Nov 11 to Feb 15, 10/day, 20 possession
Excellent pheasant and quail hunting destination with 700,000 acres available for hunting.
Pheasant- Oct 28 to Jan 10, 3/day, 12 possession
Partridge- Oct 14 to Jan 31, 8/day, 16 possession
Grouse- Oct 7 to Jan 31, 3/day, 6 possession
Quail- Oct 28 to Jan 31, 8/day, 16 possession
Pheasant- Oct 14 to Jan 7, 2/day
Partridge- Oct 14 to Jan 7, 3/day
Grouse- Sept 16 to Jan7, 5/day
Quail- Oct 14 to Dec 6, 5/day
Excellent pheasant and quail hunting on lots of available land.
Pheasant- Oct 10 to Jan 1, 2/day, 4 possession
Grouse- Sept 15 to Jan 1, 5/day, 10 possession
Quail- Oct 20 to Nov 14, 5/day, 10 possession
Popular Destination for grouse hunters with 17.7 million acres available for hunting.
Pheasant- Sept 30 to Dec 30, 2/day, 4 possession
Grouse- Sept 30 to Dec 30, 2/day, 8 possession
Quail- Sept 24 to Dec 31, 4/day, 8 possession
Orange Pheasant or Quail
Stuff the cavities of 2 pheasants or 2 quail with two peeled, chopped oranges. Tie legs and bind birds. Place in a roasting pan breast side up. Combine 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup dry white wine, 2 tbl brown sugar, 2 tbl cider vinegar, 2 whole cloves, and 1/4 tsp ginger. Pour over birds. Cover pan and bake 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees F. Remove birds and place on a baking sheet and bake to brown skin. Remove and discard orange stuffing.
Strain off fat from juices. Reserve the juice. Make an orange sauce in a sauce pan, combining 1 1/2 cup of reserved liquid, 2 tbl of orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier, and a little cornstarch to thicken. Spoon a little sauce over the birds and put the rest in a gravy boat to pass.
Great served with rice and vegetables. Pheasant is best served with a light red wine, such as pinot noir.
Partridge, pigeon, dove, ruffed grouse, pheasant, or quail can be used. Brind the bird in salt water overnight. Rub bird in bacon fat or wrap in bacon strips, stuff with apples and onions. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 to 60 minutes or until done. Baste frequently with fat drippings.
Quarter grouse and season with salt and pepper. Saute meat in butter to brown, remove and set aside. Add 2 small cut onions, 3 cloves garlic, 5 mushrooms sliced, 2 carrots Julienne. Saute for 3 minutes. In a roasting pan pour in 1/2 cup chicken stock, add 1 tsp mustard, 1 tsp thyme, 1/4 cup diced tomato, place in vegetables and put meat on top. Bake at 425 degrees F until desired level.
Publications and Websites
Wildfowl Magazine, Field & Stream Magazine, Hunting Magazine, The Field Magazine, Guns & Ammo Magazine, Outside Magazine, Backpacker Magazine, Backcountry Magazine
REI, Bass Pro Shop, Cabela’s, Gander, Moosejaw, Dick’s Sports, Dunham Sports, Sports Authority, Sportsman’s, Campmor