Chukar: The King of Birds
You would be hard pressed to get me to leave the arid West during our long Chukar season. Not that I don’t love chasing Whitetails with my father-in-law or stalking elk with my brother. These things are all hobbies, but Chukar is a PASSION. After my dad first introduced me to Chukar hunting over 25 years ago, I still get sweaty palms, butterflies in my stomach and can unload both barrels to no avail when one of my Brits go on point. I figure the day I lose that nervous excitement will be the day I take up golf; but looking at those lucky old timers who still regularly hunt while the rest of us are working, I doubt I’ll ever get my handicap below 20.
Chukar are the Yin and Yang of the bird world. They make the logistics of hunting so easy, yet the act of actually shooting one can leave you limping for days. You don’t have to know a landowner or have any high dollar equipment to hunt Chukar. All you need is the drive to get out and experience the beautiful desert and a shameless disregard for sweat and screaming leg muscles. It will all be more than worth it when you have a covey erupt around you as you watch your dog bring back that first, beautiful bandit-faced bird.
If a Chukar hunt is on your bucket list, go ahead and scratch it off. The beautiful West will welcome you with open arms. You’ll hunt Public Lands for a bird that will create unforgettable memories; and if you’re lucky, an addiction that will never end. Due to the length of the Chukar hunting season, it serves as a great late season hunt. The potential of snow also helps to concentrate birds, and there is nothing like following Chukar tracks through a pristine blanket of snow under a bluebird desert sky. Nevada, Idaho, Washington and Oregon are some of the main strongholds of this sturdy import bird and each have plenty of Public Land and birds. Surprisingly, Chukar can also be found in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Utah and Wyoming. There are probably a few other locations where these wily birds hide out in limited quantities and remote ranges.
When it comes to equipment and dog requirements, you don’t need a whole lot to hunt Chukar. I’m an obvious Brittany fan, but I’ve shot Chukar over many breeds including my wife’s Pit Bull-Lab-Dachshund-Basset Hound. They regularly fall to my 28ga. but anything from 28 to 12 gauge works. You will want to make sure you have a heavy load of sixes in whatever you shoot, as Chukar have the elevation advantage. If you don’t knock them down immediately, you get to climb down and look for them. Don’t worry thought, there will plenty of up and down in the course of a Chukar hunt. If you make sure you have sturdy boots on your feet, a good vest on your back and man’s best friend by your side, you’ll have a good time. Next time, I’ll go into more specifics on gear; but until then, come out West and enjoy some of YOUR Public Lands and chase the King of Birds!
If you’re looking for additional information on Chukar hunting, some of my favorite websites are https://chukarculture.com/ and http://chukarchasers.com/. The UpChukar podcast is also devoted to Chukar hunting. You can hear my interview on Episode 13, and I can be found on Upland Journal at NVChukarChaser if you have any questions.