There are a growing number of folks who set out to bag a "grand slam" of big game, some even using a bow and arrow. Quite an accomplishment.
A while back I penned a column about two of the rarest game birds in the US, the Himalayan Snowcock and the chachalaca, and wondered if anyone had ever considered a "grand slam of upland birds." Recently I got an e-mail from a reader who said that he was going after a Grand Slam of Upland Gamebirds. What did I think the species would be?
I began by googling "Upland Birds Grand Slam" and came up with my own article, so I must be on to something.
I did some further searching and what popped up were several small slams of birds. According to Jim Fergus in A Hunter's Road: Journey Across North America With Gun and Dog, (1993), there is a "Montana Grand Slam" — pheasant, sharptail grouse, sage grouse and Hungarian partridge — which some strive to bag all in one day.
There is also a "Prairie Slam" — pheasant, prairie chicken, chukar, and sharptail grouse.
In North Dakota they talk about a "Grouse Grand Slam" — ruffed, sage, sharptail, and prairie chicken.
I know several guys who like to puff their chests out about bagging the slam of wild turkeys — Eastern, Rio Grande, Merriam's, Osceola, and Gould's.
But I have never met anyone who has said they have bagged all species of upland game birds of North America, and could prove it.
I am assuming that a "Grand Slam of Upland Gamebirds" would be all legal species in North American, or even US. So, this is what I came up as a list of my idea of a Grand Slam of Upland Gamebirds of North America:
Ptarmigan — white-tailed, rock, and willow
Prairie chicken — There are several subspecies — Greater, Lesser, and Attwater's — and
none are very abundant. Attwater's apparently is protected.
Himalayan snowcock — Asian import found only in Ruby Mountains of Nevada.
Chachalaca — Found in Texas and down into Mexico.
Gray partridge — This is a European species, Perdix perdix, introduced into the US.
Quail — Bobwhite, California Valley, Gambel's, Scaled, and Mountain. There is
disagreement about a sixth species, either Mearn's or Montezuma quail.
Doves — mourning, Eurasian-collared, white-winged, spotted, ringed turtle
Snipe — It's listed as upland game in California even though it hangs out in swampy habitat.
American Crow — If you have seasons, then it's a game bird and not just a pest.
Wild Turkey — Eastern, Rio Grande, Merriam's, Osceola, and Gould's.
Bagging such a collection of avian gamebirds would be quite an achievement. It would take time, patience, being a good shot, and some funds.
I would shake your hand if you told me that you did this, but you would not really get my deep admiration unless you could prove that you bagged them all with a bow and arrow. That's my idea of an Upland Gamebird Super Grand Slam.
Personally, I've got two on the list with a bow: chukar and bobwhite. Don't hold your breath.
James Swan who has appeared in more than a dozen feature films, including "Murder in the First" and "Star Trek: First Contact," as well as the television series "Nash Bridges," "Midnight Caller" and "Modern Marvels" is the author of the book "In Defense of Hunting." Click to purchase a copy. To learn more about Swan, visit his Web site.