Hunting chukar is a lesson in patience and an exercise in persistence. This small game bird is only in season for about three weeks each year, and can be found in parts of the western United States. Chukar are nocturnal, which means they are active during the night and sleep during the day. Like many game birds, they prefer to roost in large coveys on cliffs or high ledges.
Where To Find Chukar
Chukar are plentiful in the desert of Arizona, Nevada and Utah. They can be found in other states as well, but are not a regular occurrence. They can be found above 5000 feet and below 4500 feet. Since chukar are nocturnal, hunters should try to hunt them between dusk and dawn.
Should You Use A Dog?
It is possible to track down, or “flush” a chukar without the use of a dog. This is a popular method of chukar hunting and the one most experts recommend for beginners. However, it requires you to be proficient with a gun and you should practice shooting at moving targets from the ground. Chukar usually fly about 10 feet above the ground, and since they are small birds (about the size of a chicken), they are hard to hit.
The best way to work a dog when hunting chukar is to let him locate or flush the bird, and then you shoot it down for the dog to retrieve. This method allows you to get closer to your target.
Chukar are extremely wary of humans and will fly off without warning when spooked. Learning how to stalk chukar effectively is essential for hunting success. Getting too close can scare them away before you get a clear shot, and taking too long exposes you to potential danger from other predators in the area.
To best flush a chukar, you must walk slowly, and creep up to within 20 feet of your target. This is where a dog really comes in handy. The scent of the dog increases the likelihood that the chukar will be spooked enough to fly away. When a chukar flies away, it is not always because it saw you or a threat. It is more likely due to its natural fear of predators, like cougars and eagles, than its view of you.
Start by working your dog up wind of your target. Once they have located a bird, let the dog run ahead and find it again. If you can keep your dog close behind the chukar, you will have little chance of being detected.
What Type Of Firearm Should You Use?
I have shot wild chukar with everything from a .410 to a 12-gauge, but I prefer 12-gauge and 16-gauge shotguns with modified chokes.
A longer barrel will help with your swing and follow through, but the type of gun you shoot doesn’t make a difference to me. My preferred load is always high-brass 6-30 or 7-30, with a slow-burning load in the gun to prevent your chukar from flying away. The best and most effective loads are those that have a very flat trajectory.
What Type Of Ammunition Should You Use?
There are plenty of good shotshells that work well for chukar hunting. The No. 6, 7 and 8 shot works well. I often use the 7-30 (1 1/8 ounces) for chukar hunting because it offers good range, a flat trajectory and is very effective at 35 yards.
Shot sizes larger than this are not recommended because they don’t have enough penetration to kill the bird consistently. The only time I wouldn’t use No.
What To Wear Chukar Hunting
The best clothing to wear when hunting for chukar is a pair of camouflage coveralls and a camouflaged cap. You can also wear a long-sleeved shirt if you prefer. It is important to wear clothing that blends in with the surrounding environment. Avoid wearing white since this will not provide as much camouflage. Be sure to wear breathable clothing so you do not overheat during your hunt.
Chukar are extremely difficult to hunt, but they make for great sport. They are small and fast, and it takes a good shot to kill them. If you are looking for a challenge, then hunting chukar is definitely the way to go.