The Basics of Hunting Chukars
Much like the ringnecked pheasant, the chukar is not native to the United States. In the US, chukar hunting has never been as popular as pheasant hunting, mostly because of it’s limited range. However, those that do partake are usually hooked in no time. The chukar is a member of the partridge family and is known for it’s delicate flavor and multi-bird flushes.
Chukars live throughout the Rocky Mountain Range. Oregon, California, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah make up most of it’s range. There are smaller locations within Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, and Montana with huntable numbers. Chukars live in stark, desolate areas. They like canyons, dry washes, and rocky slopes. They’re not known as water birds but you can usually find them within a mile of water sources. Chukars are not migratory and live most of their life in the same few square miles they were hatched in.
Hunters usually work uphill as they hunt. Chukars will flee uphill on foot but typically fly downhill when flushed. They are a social bird and flushes with four or more birds is common. Birds often flush toward gunners and those who survived the shooting barrage slip around the ridge to the next hill. Once you find a flock, you can usually stay on it for a while.
Chukars live in windy habitat but don’t like the wind. Most chukar nests are located on eastern slopes to protect them from prevailing winds. Keep an eye out for fresh droppings. Droppings will tell you if you’re getting close to birds. Once birds are found, make note of the elevation. Chukars are elevation sensitive and other flocks will most likely be at the same elevation. In open country, look for small bumps in the terrain. Chukars are small and they don’t need much to find a windbreak.
The most difficult part of chukar hunting is working the terrain. This is not a sport for people who are in poor physical condition. Not only will you walk several miles, most of the walking will be uphill. Bring plenty of water and some nutritious but light snacks.
Guns & Ammo
A light double barreled twelve gauge is the gun of choice for many. For those who prefer to have another shot, a semi-automatic is nice. Chukars flush quickly and those hunting with pumps will likely get just one shot, maybe two. Lightweight is key since you’ll be putting some miles on your boots. A modified choke is usually a good option but some chukar hunters will shoot with a full tube. Six shot is deadly on chukars.
Everything you would use on a pheasant hunt applies with chukars. Sturdy pants and comfortable boots are a plus. Early season hunters need to be aware of rattlesnakes. Mountain mornings and evenings are often cool but midday hours can be blistering. Be sure to wear layered clothing and pack along a light game vest. A sharp knife on your side can come in handy for field dressing birds. It can also serve as a last line of defense. Cougars will typically avoid humans but have been known to attack when desperate.
The Game Farm Option
Chukars are also popular birds for game farm hunts across the country. They are relatively cheap compared to pheasants and provide a little more challenging shooting. Game farm chukars tend to hunt a lot like game farm pheasants. Getting close is usually required to get a flush.