Go high in the Ruby Mts. for Himalayan Snowcock | NevadaAppeal.com

Go high in the Ruby Mts. for Himalayan Snowcock

Don Quilici

Bird hunters looking to test their metal this fall may want to try one of Nevada’s most challenging hunts.

It takes place at elevations in the neighborhood of 10,000+ feet where the air is thin and the terrain will test your physical conditioning.

The quarry? A grouse-sized bird called the Himalayan Snowcock (Snow Partridge).

Native to central Asia, the Snowcock was first introduced into Nevada in 1963, when the Nevada Department of wildlife (NDOW) released 19 birds from Pakistan into the Ruby Mountains.

From 1965 to 1979, NDOW released a total of 2,025 Himalayan Snowcock into the wild.

The first open hunting season was held in 1980 with an initial bag and possession limit of a single bird.

That has since increased to two.

That very first hunting season was limited to just nine days but has since grown to 90 days because of the difficult terrain and extreme challenges that the Snowcock hunters face.

The Snowcock hunting season begins September 1 and runs through November 30. That means you don’t have long to get ready.

In Nevada, the Himalayan Snowcock is found only at the highest elevations in the Ruby Mountains, southeast of Elko.

A hardy bird, the Snowcock lives at elevations around 10,000 feet, and is fond of steep, barren hillsides and boulder-strewn high altitude meadows.

They fly down slope in the morning and feed uphill on seeds, grasses, and insects as the day progresses.

The rough terrain in which these birds are found makes success difficult for the upland game hunter.

Even bird watchers find spotting one of these elusive birds from a distance a rare feat.

In order to help track hunter participation and their success rates, NDOW established a free-use hunt permit system in 1997.

Prior to hunting Snowcock, a person must first obtain a free-use permit from the wildlife department.

The permit is free and does not affect either bag or possession limits.

Included on the permit is a questionnaire that the hunter uses to report his activities and document bird sightings while in the field.

At season’s end, the completed questionnaire must be returned to the department.

You can obtain the free-use permit questionnaire at regional offices and some field offices.

“We have a pretty limited opportunity to observe Snowcock, so this permit- questionnaire can provide us with important information about the bird’s locations, broods, and even the birds themselves said Tony Wasley, biologist for NDOW.

For information, call the Nevada Department of Wildlife at 688-1500 during regular business hours.