Chukar hunting is a challenging adventure to say the least. My favorite quote I’ve heard is “The first hunt is for fun and all of the other hunts are for revenge.” They have all sorts of fun names that are usually in some way demeaning. Either way, I love the challenge and it’s time we get hiking around and get Kaela to start chasing these devil birds (another name for Chukar). Since we are looking to share our experiences and our lessons learned, I figure before we get going into the Chukar hunting, I should do a post on how to start. This is something I do to prepare for the hunt, and it gives a starting point. I will say, no matter what you do, putting in the miles is really the only way to find those dang things. Having a dog is a big help but even the best bird dog needs to be in the right area to get on their trail.
Here in Utah, the DWR has really made our job easy, if you can call it that. The state is great at providing hunters with resources to get going into any game you want to hunt. The state DWR raises Chukar or contracts with farms that raise Chukar as a way to keep the population going. The difficulty with Chukar in Utah is that they are not hunted enough for the state to be able to keep an accurate count as to where the Chukar are and how many there are. They are very hard to find so getting a count is hard for the DWR. They do rely on some information from hunters but the way this helps us, the hunter, is that the state releases Chukar into the wild. Unlike Pheasant, which are also released by the state, Chukar have a longer hunt season which is a great way to wrap up winter. For us it also doubles as scouting for coyotes, there will be a similar post about how we scout for coyotes and our future coyote hunts too.
Getting back on track. Chukar are pretty simple birds for how difficult they are. Chukar do have a basic pattern. They like cliffs and rocky areas to roost in. When the day comes around, they will make their way from the roost to feed and drink water. This makes it so if you know where the food is and where there is water, you can try and find where they are. This is what I do. The state has a map of areas that they have placed guzzlers to assist animals in getting water. There are three things I do when I plan a Chukar hunt. I look at the map of where the state has released Chukar, and then I look at the guzzler density map. This gives me a starting spot. I mark some spots of interest on my Onxmap which very conveniently also shows up on my phone app. From there I get out in my truck and start looking at the country I plan on hunting. I do use the topographic map to look at elevation changes and the satellite version of the map to look for cliffs next to grassy areas. Being that it’s winter and the snow storms have had some warm spells in between, it really plays on our side. Chukar don’t want to work hard for food and neither does any animal, so looking for spots where there isn’t much snow and grass is easily available, it creates smaller areas that the birds can hang out. This is a way to take the country down to a smaller area to search.
There are also online resources and groups that will get you pointed in the right direction. One is Utah Chukars and Wildlife Foundation. They work on getting people to help with preserving and encouraging the population of Chukar in Utah. You can always call your local DWR office who can point you in the right direction. I know these are some resources here in Utah but there are also other resources in your own state about where to find Chukar and get started with this adventure. Don’t forget to get yourself an orange upland vest and a hat. Plan on hiking lots of miles. I use my Camelbak as a way of making sure I have survival tools and water in case anything happens.
Whether you have a dog or just your feet, searching for these birds is a challenge of its own. It’s a lot of miles and a lot of searching but it’s a great way to get exercise and spend some time in some beautiful country. We’ll be putting in the miles soon and searching away. We’ll keep you all updated on our adventures and how our chase of these devil birds goes. Subscribe to our blog and click on the links to see where we found our information so you can research for yourself. We use onXmap because it’s so easy to use and so interchangeable between phone and computer. If you haven’t used it, you should get the week trial and give it a shot.
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