By Chad Love
If you're a quail or pheasant hunter, September is sort of a holding pattern month. The cool(er) weather gets your anticipation factor jacked up and you'll probably go on a few dove hunts, but what you really crave - the bird season opener - is, in most states, still a couple months away. So you pace, work the dogs, pace some more, look at the calendar and wait. For gundog and upland fanatics, it can be an agonizing wait. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, if you're willing, you can be in the field behind your dog as early as September 1.
How? By temporarily forgetting about quail and pheasants and instead focusing your attention on those "other" birds, our native prairie grouse; sage grouse, sharptails and prairie chickens. Overlooked and underloved by most hunters, overshadowed by the two 800-pound gorillas of the upland world, these magnificent native gamebirds offer a fantastic opportunity to get you and your dogs in the field and hunting weeks or months before most quail or pheasant openers. And often as not, you'll have those fields mostly to yourself, if you're willing to drive and more importantly, walk.