People all over the country love to bird hunt. In the Western part of the U.S., the chukar is one of the most popular yet elusive birds to hunt. A chukar is a desert-dwelling partridge that’s part of the pheasant family. Hunting them is a challenging but rewarding experience. If you want to get ready for your first chukar hunt, the following ten tips will help you.
Learn About Chukar
You’ll need to know more than the definition of chukar if you want a successful hunt. Chukars originally came from Eurasia, which is why they’re so comfortable in the deserts of the western U.S. They are round and measure around 13-14 inches long. They have a brown back and gray chest to best blend in with the desert environment. Their faces are white and black with a red bill. You’ll also notice red on their legs.
Chukars are noisy in some situations, and they get their name from their call, which sounds like “chuck-chukar.” They also look like a rock partridge.
Study Bird Hunting Regulations
As you learn about the chukar and its habitats, you should also learn about the bird hunting regulations in the states that offer these sporting opportunities. Many western states have the dry desert and rocky conditions that chukars love, such as parts of California and Idaho. Each state, and sometimes local areas within those states, will have different hunting regulations. Study these regulations as you consider where you might like to start hunting.
Practice Shooting a Shotgun
Shotguns are a popular bird hunting instrument, especially for chukar. If you’ve never shot a shotgun before, you should practice well before you head out on an actual hunt. Sub-gauge shotguns are best since they are lighter than traditional eight-pound shotguns. If you don’t own this type of shotgun and can’t buy one yet, try to borrow one or find it used.
Use clay pigeons during your shotgun practice. Clay pigeons are moving targets you can shoot down as if they were real birds, preparing you for a chukar hunt.
Buy the Appropriate Licenses and Tags
The more you practice, the more successful you’ll be during the real thing. However, the real thing comes with the regulations we mentioned above. Most areas will require licenses and tags before you can start bird hunting. Consider which licenses and tags are worth it for your current expertise level and desired location.
Study Bird Forecasts
Your bird hunting license and tag make the hunting experience feel real. Study bird forecasts to prepare yourself for the upcoming hunt. Bird forecasts will break down the chukar and other bird trends in the region your license and tag covers. Many forecasts will cover the most recent season’s statistics, so you’ll have a realistic idea of what to expect. They may also provide decade statistics that will help you gain a deeper understanding of chukar and the other birds in the region.
Exercise Before Hunting Season
We’ve told you to learn and study various topics while preparing for your first chukar hunt. You will need this knowledge, but you will also need an able body. Since chukars prefer dry, rocky areas, you can expect to hike through hot weather no matter which locations your license and tag cover.
Exercise regularly as you prepare for hunting season so you’re ready for the weather and physical exertion. Running and weightlifting are two exercises that bird hunters often find helpful. Hiking through smaller, cooler areas can also help prepare you for your first hunting experience.
Find a Hunting Group
Some people choose to hunt alone, but it’s best to hunt in pairs or with a group. It’s always safer to have someone with you while carrying a firearm, especially while hiking. Otherwise, you could have an accident and struggle to receive help.
Hunting in groups also offers advantages. You won’t need as much hunting strategy since there are more people working in an area. People of various experience levels can learn from those with more experience. Experienced hunters may also bring bird dogs, which are helpful. In some cases, you can also use your numbers to corral birds. Some cons to group hunting include more competition for a shot, but overall, the group experience is worth it.
Choose a Hunting Location
The hunting group you choose to join may already have a favorite hunting location in mind. However, many groups are welcoming and open to location suggestions. Your license and tag will probably cover the entire state, giving you many options.
Choose an area that at least one person in the group is familiar with for safety. Discuss how far you are willing to travel to the ideal location and if you are willing to stay overnight. Some groups also choose a hunting location because of additional outdoor activities. Hunting is strenuous. If groups are planning to hunt together over a weekend or longer, taking a break for other activities can help everyone relax. Additional activities, such as river tours and visiting historical museums, also offer an alternative way to bond with your group.
Pack the Right Supplies for Your Location
Now that you know where you’re going, you can start packing for your first chukar hunt. Ask experienced bird hunters for packing suggestions to make sure you bring the right hunting supplies. Though, you will need more than hunting supplies for a successful trip. Bring an extra pair of clothes for overnight trips. Pack extra sunscreen and aloe no matter how long your trip is. Calculate how much water you will need and always bring extra, especially if the group contains bird dogs. Basic first aid items, such as bandages, antiseptic, and tweezers, are also important.
Hunting is a sport. Like any sport, it will require practice and perseverance. While your earlier practice with clay pigeons will help you on your first chukar hunting trip, don’t set the bar too high, and don’t quit. You will learn more about chukar hunting the more you hunt, especially if you hunt with experienced hunters. Focus on the camaraderie and skill progression instead of how many birds you get on your first trip.
These ten tips to help you get ready for your first chukar hunt are only the beginning. No list of tips, studying, or practice can fully prepare you for getting out on a hunt. If you’re hunting in the Hells Canyon area, consider taking a break for a Snake River boat tour. You can scout potential hunting locations, relax after the previous day’s hunt, and enjoy the scenery.