Archive for the ‘Chukar’ Tag

CHUKARS ARE CHALLENGING   Leave a comment

Most hunters are familiar with the fact that Ringneck Pheasants came to North American through efforts by. But, there was another exotic introduced a few years later in l893 that has not received as much notoriety.  They are the Chukar Partridge or Chukars which came to at least 4l states and six Canadian provinces.  The stockings began with just five pairs but now include millions of birds that are available in the wild in l0 western states as well as on hundreds of shooting preserves throughout the country.

In the wild, these imports from India are not difficult to hunt, but the areas they choose for habitat are difficult to negotiate. They love hilly areas and run uphill and flying downhill when flushed.  They do not hold well for a dog because they are a nervous bird that likes to keep moving.  Because of its choice of habitat it does not displace any of native birds and it provides a gamebird in areas where none existed previously.

Chukars do not do well in all areas due to their particular dietary requirements. They are members of the Phasianidae family which includes domestic chickens, wild fowl such as Francolins, guinea fowl, partridges, peafowl, pheasants and snowcocks.  These birds feed primarily on the ground even though they will take food from shrubs and low tree limbs.  The young feed on insects while the older birds tend to feed on what is available.  They prefer such things as buds, fruit, roots, and seeds but will eat insects, snails, worms and other small animals.  It is this eating of worms, slugs and snails that is their downfall in most of the country.  This food supply is often the host of disease organisms that kill the Chukar.  They eat grubs and worms where they are available and as a result tend to die out in such areas.

Early attempts to establish huntable populations of Chukar in the eastern states met with failure due to the bird’s inability to avoid eating grubs and worms. Shooting preserves met with moderate success raising them on wire.  Flight pens with mesh floors kept the birds off the ground where they could not get access to worms and grubs.  But, the birds became too accustomed to the presence of humans.  As a result, they seemed to lose much of their wildness.  This made the birds less suitable for hunting preserves.  Breeders overcame the problem by the raising of the birds in isolation.  They do not have human contact and thus retain the wildness that makes them flush when approached.  The end result is a very good game bird for the shooting preserve.

Chukars are about the size of a ruffed grouse with a striking appearance. The back and breast are a subdued olive-gray tone set off by the deep crimson of the bill, feet, and legs.  The white throat and cheeks separate from the breast by a jet-black necklace which loops upward to form a mask across the eyes.  The sides are buff colored and barred with dark black and chestnut vertical stripes.  The tail is a rust-brown color.

In the wild, the chukar is as much a covey bird as the bobwhite quail. On a shooting preserve they are often in groups of 3 or four.  When flushed they burst into the air, their short, broad, cupped wings enable them to attain a speed of 35 to 40 miles per hour in just a few seconds.  As soon as they reach top speed the chukar glide.  Upon landing, they tend to run uphill and hide in the nearest cover.  Once the hunter is out of sight, chukars will reassemble the covey.

Flushing dogs are the ticket to hunting these little uphill racers. Pointing dogs will often point to a spot where the birds were as they race away through the cover.  The flushing dog will charge through the birds sending them scattering into the air.  After they have been scattered, chukars will often hold tight in the tallest grasses or in clumps of grass and brush.

As for what gun and ammo to use, the best gun will have an improved cylinder and modified choke. A lightweight, fast handling shotgun is best.  12 or 20 gauge with 26 inch barrels is a good choice.  No. 7 1/2 shot is ideal.

If you would like to take the challenge of the chukar contact any shooting clubs. Many of them will offer chukar shooting in addition to the pheasant and quail shooting.

PRESERVES PROVIDE EARLY WARM UP FOR THE SEASON   Leave a comment

Quail0008Hunters waiting for the waterfowl migration, upland hunters and those wanting to teach a person new to the sport of shooting, all find the hunting preserve a great hunting option.

Most hunting preserves cater to groups and individuals who want a quality hunting experience but do not have access to land or maybe have a physical disability. The hunting season begins early on preserves offering the hunter extended time in the field.  The game and dogs can make or break a preserve hunt.

Some hunters may be waterfowlers. They may want to continue a hunt after a morning of hunting or, when ducks and geese are not flying.

Most hunters are people with hunting experience. Clubs usually have a clay target trap set up for shooting practice before taking to the field.  It also gives the guide a chance to evaluate the skill level of the hunter and their safe handling of firearms.

Some hunters want to bring their own dogs. Clubs often encouraged hunters wanting to get some field experience for their canines.  If the client wants to try hunting over other dogs or does not have his own, then the preserve usually has numerous dogs available.

Pointers, retrievers, setters and Brittany’s are popular dogs for the upland field hunting usually found in the preserve situation. Labrador Retrievers are popular in a pheasant hunting situation in that they are good under voice control.

A lot of dogs will point a pheasant and when it takes off they will chase the bird. They just do not know how to handle such a big bird.  It is preferred that the dog pull out and go to the end of the field, then come back to cut off the bird.  Finding such a dog can be difficult.  A good pheasant dog should cover the field quickly and be able to stay put when the bird flushes.  Some dogs point a quail but will not be bothered with a pheasant.

A good dog ranges 50 to 100 yards out from the hunters. On a preserve you do not need a field trial dog.  Field Trial dogs range further out from the hunter or handler.  Dog handlers train them to do just that.  On a preserve the closer ranging dog is better for the physically challenged person who rides a 4-wheeler or hunters who ride a horse while hunting.  The horse hunting is a carry over from the old southern plantation style of quail hunting.

The dog points the bird and the hunter dismounts, loads his gun and walks to the location before flushing the bird. Another variation is that the hunters ride in a horse drawn wagon until the dog finds the bird.  Then the hunter gets down from the wagon, loads up and walks in to meet the dog and handler.  The approach causes the bird to flush.

It is generally impossible to break a dog of hunting any further than he desires. You can break a dog from hunting too wide or make him come back.  It takes a lot of training work, patience and is better to leave that to the experts.  The hunting preserve then provides an opportunity to keep the dog in practice.

Sporting clays practice before coming to a preserve to hunt is a good idea. It offers the hunter a chance to practice shooting clay targets under simulated hunting conditions.  It also helps the hunter to become more comfortable and familiar with the particular gun he is planning to use in the field.

Most hunters of upland game use 20 or 12 gauge shotguns. Some shooters like the 28 gauge on preserves.  For pheasants, the recommendation is a number 6 shot size.  For Quail and Chukar usually hunters prefer a 7 ½ or number 8 shot.

For the physically challenged hunter some preserves offer 4-wheelers or truck transportation to get into position. They are the only hunters allowed to hunt from a vehicle in this Illinois.

In other states it might be best to have the less physically fit person be a blocker at the end of the field to flush running birds into the air.

Many physically challenged hunters have a vehicle of their own. Regardless, preserves often have certain fields set aside for such hunters.  They can drive them on roadways and move through the field on vehicles with no problems.

Physically challenged hunters can be either a driver or a blocker depending upon their desires. The hunter just follows the handler and the dogs lead.

 

Many clubs also have at least one father/son or mother/daughter hunt each year. These are a great bonding experience.

A preserve hunt might make a great birthday or holiday present.

 

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