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The upland bird season opened Sept. 1 for mountain, sage and sharptail grouse along with partridge. Pheasant hunting starts Oct. 6. All seasons end Jan. 1, except sage grouse, which ends Sept. 30.

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A wet, cool June was good for lots of things in western Montana: boosting the hay crop, staving off the start of fire season, growing wildflowers. But the weather’s effect on sage grouse was mixed, according to Kirk Miller, president of Helena’s Headwaters Chapter of the conservation group Pheasants Forever.

  • Updated

Across northeastern Montana, above-average snowfall throughout the winter along with spring rains greatly helped to produce good nesting and brood-rearing cover for upland birds, meaning hunting should be fair or slightly better than 2017.

The sun shone weakly in the cloudy sky. A northwest breeze brought a smattering of snowflakes. The ground was covered in 3 inches of snow. It was opening morning of pheasant season in Wyoming's Bighorn Basin.

Friday I finally decided that I couldn't go another day without bird hunting, so I loaded up my somewhat trusty Labs — Trouble and Chip — my shotgun, a box of shells and headed north to see if I could encounter a sharp-tailed grouse or two. I had been waiting for a buddy to hunt with, and though I had asked several none were available. So I decided to hunt by myself.

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