Chukar season is starting – or has started- this month and we wanted to give you some tips on how to bag some devil birds. Maybe you have been out and want to be more successful in harvesting. They say the first time you go chukar hunting it’s for fun; all the rest are for revenge. Here are some tips to make your first, or every trip after, potentially more fun and successful.
1. Start your hunt in the correct orientation. Late in the season I like to focus my hunting efforts on the south and west facing slopes. The mid-day afternoon sun burns snow off and leaves south and west facing slopes snow free for the birds to mill around. I like to start my hunt hiking from the East to the West if possible. This allows me to crest a ridge and surprise the birds rather than having them watch me peak a hill and watch me the entire time.
2. Use the cuts and canyons to “gain elevation”. As you enter into the cut, which is “uphill”, move into the canyon as deep as possible which will help you gain, or at least, not lose elevation. When you exit the canyon on the other side, you should have a nice elevation boost.
3. Once I find birds I try to stay at that elevation. If my goal was to get to the top, I abandon that plan for a while and try to find more birds. People say birds move up and down to get water but I’ve found if I find a group of birds there are usually others at that level. If I don’t flush another group for a while I continue my plan to go to the top.
4. If you’re side hilling and it’s easy, you’re doing it wrong. You’re probably slowly losing elevation. Pick something 100 yards away and move toward it, being just uphill from it by the time you get to it. Again, side hilling is hard. Make it less sucky by staying even or gaining elevation rather than slowly going down hill.
5. Observe what everyone else is doing and don’t do that thing. This is a fly fishing tactic I use all the time. Do non-traditional things. Try new stuff. Do an evening hunt in lieu of a morning hunt. Use waders and cross the creek. Use a canoe or boat to access a new piece of land. Hunt the hill that doesn’t have a quad trail. Look at #8 below and find a small public access honey hole.
6. Save a shell for the next bird. I have a 5 shell shotgun. I am nicer than most chukar hunters, I give 3 warning shots. I generally do not shoot 5 times. I like to save 2 for the late flushing bird or cripples. Sometimes when a group flushes there will be a late flush. It’s nice to save a round for the late bird or if I need to dispatch a cripple.
7. Hunt with Binos. I’ve glassed chukar on hills many times. Plus, while you’re out there you can look for sheds or ungulates to hunt during other seasons.
8. Use your resources. OnX, GoHunt, Guzzler Books, State wildlife agencies, Google Earth. We have amazing tools. Let’s use them. You can and maybe should find water and cover and slopes and ridges that hold birds. Use your tools and download offline maps. You could even make a track and use that to hike in the dim light if needed.
9. Get a dog. You will kill more birds, find more cripples, and have a better life. If you want a hunting dog to help kill chukar, get a hunting dog. We all have that friend that has a lab/heeler/shepherd mix that is a great dog. I’d rather know I’m getting a hunting dog from proven hunting lines than hope to get lucky buying a dog in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
10. Don’t get lazy. When my dog goes downhill, I’m reluctant to drop 200 feet and chase her. I know I should. I don’t know why I am often surprised when she goes on point. She has a great nose and instincts. I should just trust her and not get lazy. I have a good hunting buddy who is successful in all of his hunting efforts for all species. When I’m stuck or debating a situation, I think, “What would Joe do?” Then I do that thing and sometimes kill birds. That’s because he’s not doing the easy thing. He goes uphill, or downhill, or over the next ridge, or in the canyon. Don’t get lazy and you’ll kill more birds.
11. Be quiet. You’re hunting. I hate whistles and bells and yelling. I don’t know if chukar can hear that or if they care. It makes me feel better when I’m hunting birds and we are quiet. I’m not sure it matters all that much for chukar, but I bet you see more game if you’re quiet.
12. Open your choke. For years I shot a full choke. It’s not necessary. Now I use a modified and kill birds.
13. Once you get back home, enjoy the fruits of your labor. Even if you didn’t bag any birds you earned a drink and good nights rest. If you did, do yourself a favor and look up some recipes. These birds are very delicious.
The best and worst thing you can say is “Now I have birds to clean.” The second best and worst thing you can say is “At least I don’t have birds to clean.” Either way, it was a pretty good day.
Well, there you have it. A few tips to help with killing some red legs. Do you have some tips you’ve picked up along the way? Maybe a few suggestions? Do you have a honey hole you want to share with me… [email protected]
Robert- Owner of Karmik Outdoors and wannabe upland guy.