Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Finding chukars

While I was hunting with JPC this weekend he asked if there was a certain type of area I look for when hunting chukars. Knowing he has a hard running shorthair similar to mine, I showed him what I look for. But I do think that the style of hunting might dictate what kind of country you look for and how you hunt the country.
Personally, I don't care to hunt the rim rock edges and steep rock cliffs. I know that the chukars like to use them for cover and a place for quick escapes and for that reason you will usually find them hiding in the rocks than not. A person can get some pretty good shooting on these edges but I believe you usually need a closer working dog. The retrieving can be awfully treacherous in these areas also.  If you hunt with others, these places can be hunted successfully by having a person hunt the top and another walking the bottom. I prefer to hunt solo with my dogs so I stay away from these areas.
This picture is some of the best chukar habitat I hunt. It has a little of everything for the birds. The side I took the picture from is a lot steeper than it looks. The other side has a lot of those rocky area I'm talking about. As you get closer to the bottom of this canyon the birds will fly across and take refuge in the cliffs. Once there they love to call you across to them. I often oblige and come across but I hunt those bowls and ridges into the wind the best I can. Even though I know there are lots of birds in those rocks, I prefer to hunt the birds in an area where I can make reasonable shots than those I know I'm not good at making in the rocky slopes.
This is the type of chukar habitat I like to hunt. Once again the picture doesn't show the steepness of the hill. I'm pretty close to the top of the ridge which keeps going up as far as you would care to go. There are lots of saddles like the one on the other side of Riley all the way up the ridge. You can see forever so I can let my dogs do what they do best, find birds. These saddles usually channel the wind so it's not unusual to have a 200 yard point away from the birds. With several relocation's, the birds are held to within reasonable gun range. The other thing I like about an area like this is that the birds will usually flush and sweep around the hill for a possible second or third chance at the covey. When hunting them in the rocky areas you usually get one chance and then they are gone.
Another hunting tactic that works for me getting more shots at birds is to stay higher on the hill. Not that there are any more birds there but you get more shooting opportunities at those birds. The lower down the hill you are the more likely the birds are going to fly across the canyon, ending your hunt on that covey unless you are willing to go down and back up the other side.
I also spend a lot of time looking for bird scat as I'm walking. If there is bird sign there are birds somewhere. It's impossible for the dog to cover everywhere with the wind right. I'll make long sweeps over a mountain the same as you would cover a field for pheasants. The only difference is the sweeps may be a mile instead of a couple hundred yards.
Probably the biggest thing I see most chukar hunters do to make them unsuccessful is giving up too soon. After hunting for two hours and not seeing many birds they head for the rig and drive to another location. You are already there. It's just as easy to cover more country right where you are now as it is to drive to another location and walk a new cover another area. They really can be just right over the next ridge.

1 comment:

Karl said...

Typical chukar hunter...up up up! ;o)