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My first chukar hunt

Humbled and betrayed by my dopey dog

Carmen is a trained biologist and program coordinator. She spends most of her time in the Salt Lake City office managing a variety of programs, including species mapping, sensitive species databases and NEPA review.

AS A BIOLOGIST, most of my interaction with wildlife has been limited to tadpoles — at least until last year. In January, I decided to try hunting for the first time. I wrapped up my last Hunter Education course and asked a coworker, John, if I could go chukar hunting with him over the weekend.

Duncan is sweet but kind of goofy, and he sold me out for a pair of yellow labs.

Duncan is sweet but kind of goofy, and he sold me out for a pair of yellow labs.

I brought my golden retriever, Duncan, hoping he still had some genetic remnants of “birding” in him. That part didn’t work out so well. Duncan quickly abandoned me to hang out with John and his two dogs. I hardly saw him the rest of the day (good-for-nothin’ mutt).

I learned later that John flushed and shot a chukar about 20 minutes after we split up. And Duncan’s hunting instincts are apparently intact. He jumped right in with the experienced dogs to retrieve the bird. I really wish I’d seen it!

Chukars are partridges. They have distinctive striping on their sides and live in steep, very rocky terrain.

Chukars are partridges. They have distinctive striping on their sides and live in steep, very rocky terrain.

I actually saw a chukar on that trip. It flew up behind me and rocketed past my head. At the time, I was scrambling over icy boulders — shotgun slung over my shoulder — focused on safety pointers and random thoughts:

  • Don’t accidentally shoot John.
  • Don’t shoot John’s dogs.
  • When am I going to see a chukar?
  • Don’t shoot Duncan.

(Yes, I did think them in that order.) The rest of the day, I held my shotgun in front of me with both hands. I was ready for another opportunity, but it never came. I hiked until I was sore and gave Duncan an earful on the way home. He knows me too well, though, and shrugged it off. Next time — with sufficient canine bribery — I just might have better luck!

21 Responses to My first chukar hunt

  1. this is great!! At least Duncan can retrieve! Our pointer can find any chukar in a 5 mile radius, but refuses to retrieve them – damn dog…wait a minute…between Duncan and Trooper, it may be possible to have one solid hunting dog. Ha.

    P.S. I am glad there were no “Cheney” like incidents in your first hunt!

  2. Sparky would run away… with the bird, because he’s a thieving rascal. Then I would shoot him. We’re both really glad I don’t have a gun.

  3. I’ve never seen a chukar. I’ll confess I’ve never even heard of them until reading your story here, Carmen. It surely is a beautiful bird. Thank you for sharing the photos. I do hope to see one someday. The question that comes to my mind is what would possess anyone in their right mind to want to shoot and kill birds? I’m with Duncan. I don’t understand the “birding” concept. I thought it was done with binoculars.

  4. Since I’ve worked in Wildlife Resources I’ve developed a great respect for hunting and have a desire to collect my own dinner. I am a carnivore but have never “taken the responsibility” of hunting, dispatching, and cleaning the meat I so love to consume. I do love to hike and watch wildlife… so, hiking with a shotgun was a new experience for this biologist!

  5. Great Story – and not unusual for a first Chukar hunt.

    If you keep at it, they become a passion. Not for what you harvest, but for the beauty, solitude, and ruggedness of their habitat, and for the bonds you form with your dog.

    Welcome to the society (fraternity & sorority)……….

    P.S. Chukar hunting is also superb aerobic exercise – highly recommended for all.

  6. when i first started hunting chukar a friend told me the first time you hunt chukars its for fun. every time after that its for revenge.
    I think there is a little truth in that statement for anyone who has hunted them. and run up a hill that man was not meant to be on, just to have them fly down, run, hide, and laugh at you.

  7. where do you hunt chuckers? As I would like to try it

  8. I love to hear your stories. I also have learned to love hunting and since we did not go deer hunting this year we have done one chukar hunt trip so far. We love it….me more than my husband. We have three dogs, two wiredhaired pointers and one shorthaired pointer. They are all adopted and I take pride in training my dogs for bird on our walks in the neighborhood. We live in Las Vegas but got about 1 1/2 hour from here near Elgin, Nv. Please tell us more, all of you.

    Denise, Ceasar, Ike, Brandy..and oh yea my hubby David

  9. Carmen,
    I just got back from Chukar hunting the rimrock above the Deschutes River in Oregon. I advise you to not go again, it might become an obsession, and I don’t want you to get hurt. Alas, for me it is too late…
    I fell and scratched my shotgun (again), and a rock struck me right in the shoulder and it left a softball sized bruise. I did bag one Chukar, but missed all the others. I cannot describe the beauty of that arid landscape, with the river glistening silver 1500 ft below. I know I’ll be back, and my GF thinks I’m crazy, but she keeps going with me…
    I have to admit I’m impressed with any woman who even attempts this most difficult of upland bird hunting sports. My GF says the best way to practice for Chukar hunting is to alternate between steep hiking on Mt. Hood, and shooting skeet while standing upon a basketball.

  10. I think you should keep it up

  11. The chukar is so cute… and Duncan is so cute too!

  12. Its always great to see the instincts come out in dogs like that. I love taking a new lab pup duck hunting with me and watch them naturally know what to do. Keeping them still is the hard part! I love bird hunting but have never tried chuckar before. I wonder if they are hard to hit like ducks are?

  13. Get Paid to Hunt

    I’m jealous, I have a lab right now who’s scared of loud noises and likes to chase flying bugs.

  14. Being a keen dog supporter I was searching google for dog recipes end your blog came up. It was a great well written read. Perhaps you didnt know, but Duncan being a retriever, will retrieve by instinct, as the name implies.

  15. Rick Kennerknecht

    Hi Carmen!

    Some of my best and earliest memories of upland bird hunting were chuckar hunting with my friends in Central California. While we never limited out, it was always about the friendship and solitude of the desert terrain. Oh yeah, they are very tasty too!


  16. This sounds very similar to how most of my hunting experiences have went haha. My husband always has all the luck (or the skill) and I end up just getting some nice exercise 🙂

  17. Loved your article. I was searching for Golden Retriever as i want to do an article on them, and your site popped up. Good story thanks

  18. The most important that you had a good time and shared it with your dog Duncan, precious moments…, mine loves all the attention she can get. My comment on hunting as a sport – I do not see anything sporty, the animal does not even have a change against hunter with a gun, let them live and look at them in the wild, but do not kill the animals.

  19. Chukar must be a beautiful bird, never heard about one before, are they rare and endangered species? Maybe we should protect them instead of hunting them. Great blog and great story to read.

  20. great post thank you for the information, very interesting

  21. duncan is a beautiful dog. we have chukars here in eastern oregon. i have yet to take my dog with me.
    actually all your pictures are beautiful… looks like your hike and hunting trip was awesome.
    thanks for the blog post from all of us at

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