It was a foggy, gray day in March when I first met Chukar. A lightly snow-covered, remote, valley provided the perfect backdrop for these small birds and a temperature of 3° allowed both humans and dog a comfortable day for hunting. The sun would have been nice, but let’s not quibble.
Over the past few years, I have heard various birds referred to by nicknames or shortened versions of the proper name, such as ‘Huns’ to describe Hungarian partridge. So when I was invited to hunt ‘Chukars’, I assumed this was a variation of the proper name…………..surprise.
The Chukar Partridge or Chukar (Alectoris chukar) is a native of southern Eurasia. The Chukar was introduced into the United States from Pakistan to be a game bird. It lives in arid, rocky terrain across the western United States and southern Canada. Some feral populations have established themselves in parts of North America. This species’ common name was derived from its noisy song, which ends in chuKAR chuKAR. I guess they don’t Chuck after all.
This bird is quite pretty with well marked black and white bars on the flanks and a black band running from the forehead, across the eye and running down the head to form a necklace that encloses a white throat and cheeks.
Yesterday, I had the privilege to hunt with my husband and friend at a private bird club in Alberta. We arrived just before nine am, and went to the lodge to sign in while the handlers released the birds. We donned our beautiful orange vests and hats and drove out to our starting point. Note to self – next time take my own orange hunting vest as the size XL I was wearing provided loads of room for shells, birds and other paraphernalia, but was comically cumbersome.
Our guide and dog handler directed us to the correct area where we began to comb the area walking in a line following the pointing and flushing dog. The black lab was excited and effective as she covered the broad expanse between us while moving forward. It was wonderful to have her point and wait for the command to flush the bird when we were all in range.
Due to the time of year, mild temperatures and snow cover the birds were having more difficulty flying with wet feathers. They would flush and fly but not as fast or far as in drier weather. This allowed lots of time to shoot, except when they decided to fly straight at our heads.
In this case, I was instructed to allow them to fly over (or duck) and then shoot as they moved away which proved very successful with my 28 ga Ugartecha sidelock.
As we hunted the edge of a body of water, one bird was hit and decided to head out over the frozen pond where he landed. This resilient fellow skated 200 yards across and continued down the far side for quite a distance. We had to stop and watch as this determined bird attempted many a fine figure skating maneuver on his journey. Alas, he ended up deep within a muskrat hole where the dog couldn’t retrieve.
Back at the lodge we enjoyed our lunch and drinks after an invigorating morning chasing Chukars. Below are a few links I found online discussing various aspects of hunting Chukars.
Happy Hunting Donna Bilozir Bilozir Fine Guns