In Texas and Arizona, spring and summer drought is always a concern. In the Dakotas and Montana, winter mortality can decimate pheasant and Hungarian populations. In recent years, West Nile disease has been reported to be having a fatal outcome on sage and ruffed grouse. But, for the most part, the success of the spring hatch can make or break the following hunting season.
Extended periods of cold, damp weather can wreak havoc on a young brood. Early summer hail storms can kill chicks and even adult birds. The summer of 2017 offered an extreme drought which resulted in severe declines in birds come September and October. A lack of plant growth and insect hatches doomed prairie species across the Great Plains. While the Great Lakes states expected a near-peak season in the very reliable grouse cycle, the numbers actually declined!
So, cross your fingers that the next two months are just what the doctor ordered. The upland species need some moisture, but not too much moisture or cold weather. Warm weather is good, but hopefully it isn't too hot and dry. Insects are important for chick development, but West Nile can be transmitted by mosquitoes. So, there is a fine line. And remember next fall, if the bird populations are strong, make plans to hunt more than ever. For many species, Mother Nature controls populations, not hunters.