Finding chukar partridge is the first step to bagging some birds. Jason Robinson, upland game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, provides the following advice:
"Even though Utah has a lot of chukar habitat," Robinson says, "most of the birds are found west of Interstate 15, in the Book Cliffs in eastern Utah and along rocky river corridors in southern Utah."
These rugged, cheatgrass-covered slopes provide ideal habitat for the birds.
Robinson says chukars live in coveys that typically number between five and 30 birds. "When the covey is feeding," he says, "it always posts a sentry. The sentry sits on a rock that provides the bird with a good view of the surrounding area. If the bird sees you, it will call out to alert the other birds. The call will also alert you that a covey of chukars is in the area."
After finding some birds, remember that chukars almost always run uphill to escape danger. "You can't outrun them," Robinson says, "so don't try to chase the birds up the slope."
Instead, try to cut off the birds' escape route by circling around the birds and getting above them. Then, hunt down the slope towards them. "If you get above the birds," he says, "they'll usually stay where they are until you get close enough to shoot at them."
When chukars flush, they almost always fly straight out from the slope before hooking to the left or the right. "Get your shots off while the birds are still in range," he says.
After hooking to the left or right, any bird that isn't bagged will typically fly into a group of rocks, into sagebrush or into bunch grasses. If you watch where the birds land, you'll often have a chance for another shot.
Robinson says dogs aren't needed to hunt chukars. "But having a dog is very helpful," he says, "both in finding birds and retrieving the birds you hit."
Because of the steep, rough areas where chukars live, it's important that you're in good physical shape. When you go afield, make sure you wear sturdy boots that provide your ankles with plenty of support.
"It's also important to carry plenty of water," Robinson says, "especially during the early part of the season."
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