If you saw the fall, do not take your eyes off the spot, first drop your hat, then walk directly to the area of the fall. Don’t get discouraged if it takes 10 or twenty minutes to find your bird. Feathers falling from the bird at the shot may help to locate a general search area if there is little wind -- seldom the case in chukar country. And if this is not difficult enough, chukars, even those about to expire, do crawl into cracks in rock piles or under brush as they expire. I cannot say with certainty that this is so, but I have found birds dead in places they could not have gotten to by simply falling. Although I have never heard anyone else mention it, chukars sometimes make a faint chukaring call as they die, and more than once this has helped me to locate a downed bird.

Occasionally a bird will ‘sail’ after being shot, and I have had birds die in the air and glide many hundreds of dreadful yards into a distant canyon. It's no problem, usually, to mark these birds. Retrieving them, you’re on your own.

Once in hand, spend a moment to examine your chukar. Big as a ruffed grouse, sleek as a quail, a pair of chukars in your game vest makes the quivering legs and sweat soaked shirt worthwhile. If this is your first, pluck a couple of creamy, chocolate barred flank feathers for your hat band before you tuck him into your vest.

On the table, chukars are on a par with ruffed grouse -- the finest. Unlike the Hungarian partridge, chukars are white meated birds - a consequence, I think, of their ground dwelling existence. For flavor and presentation, I prefer to pick my birds - even the wings. To see a hunter ‘breast out’ a fine game bird and throw most of the bird in the garbage makes me wince - what a waste! You must respect a bird so dearly earned in legwork, dogwork and shooting skill.

Go Do It

Wild chukars occur from California to Montana, but the main target areas are Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon, Northern Nevada and Idaho. Limits are generous, 6 to 8 birds per day, and in a good chukar year, in good country, you may see hundreds of birds in a day. All of this is great country. In the best of it you won’t see any mountain bikers, hikers or hang gliders. And there’s a very good chance you won’t see any other bird hunters.

Michael Spies, aka; Chuckerman, lives on
the West Coast and has hunted chukars
in California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon,
and Washington.

Copyright 2002 - Michael Spies