Categories: Salt Lake

My first chukar hunt

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.

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.

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!

Carmen Bailey :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.

View Comments (21)

  • 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?

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

  • 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.

  • 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!


  • 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 :)

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 whirlydogsupplies.com