Where to Hunt Chukar

Not a great spot for chukar
Angus doubting this is a good spot for chukar

[UPDATE: This is a re-post from almost exactly a year ago. I don’t mean to be snarly, but I get emails every day from people wanting to know where to find chukar. I guess this surprises me a little because I must have assumed that people realize chukar hunting is mostly about exploring public land and learning — for themselves — where the birds are. Here’s my response — in advance — if you send me a message asking where to go:

Thanks for your message. I’m seeing exponentially more hunters in places I never used to see anyone. That’s good (for hunting/public land support) and bad (for me and the solitude I used to have while chukar hunting, which was one of the main attractions for me). I also get messages like yours nearly every day. And I’ve written about this more than once on the blog: chukar hunters know that the birds are where they are, which often is the opposite place the same birds were yesterday. All that being said, I’d say that with all the unseasonably early green-up they could be anywhere. I’ve already had days this season where we saw zero chukar where we had seen many coveys 5 days prior. With two amazing dogs on a long hunt in the best spot I know, last weekend I got one bird. Meanwhile, a friend of mine, with no dogs and a wee OU, limited in an hour in a spot I thought was garbage. The short answer is, I don’t know what to tell you (and probably wouldn’t if I did). Honestly. I’d just look for green up (it’s not everywhere); that’s where we’ve found birds, and not necessarily super close to a water source. Personally, if I could afford it, I’d be hunting in eastern Oregon rather than Idaho based on the reports from last weekend’s opener there.]

One thing I love about hunting chukar is trying to find the birds. That involves working with my dogs, looking at maps, doing lots of exploring (often in vain), figuring out why birds are where we do find them and why they’re not where we don’t. It’s a mysterious thing, and — for me — defines chukar hunting. It’s not pheasant hunting, and it’s not quail hunting, and it’s not sharptail hunting. It’s definitely not grouse hunting, although the big ones are sometimes a bonus I don’t pass up when they present themselves. And I usually miss those. But all of this keeps me coming back.

This became one of my favorite spots last year, which I discovered while grouse hunting. This year, at least right now, there ain’t a chukar anywhere near it, probably because it’s way too dry.

Another thing I love about hunting chukar is tempting fate: sometimes I try a new spot that looks terrible just because I think it might actually be good; lots of evidence continues to amass supporting the concept that I have my head up my butt so — as George Castanza did for a while on Seinfeld — sometimes I like to try the opposite of a good idea.

This might look all the same, but there are lots of birds in some places and none in others. As the annoying aphorism goes, “That’s why it’s called hunting.”

Which brings me to the main point when it comes to addressing a question I’m getting more often on this blog: chukar are where you find them.

The act of finding chukar: not always where you look.

Even if I told someone exactly where to look for the birds (something I’ve told friends in the past), chances are they won’t be there (my friends confirmed this). Moreover, I like getting skunked without running into other hunters, and have had good luck doing just that for the past two decades and I’d prefer to keep it that way. And more moreover, there are no such things as “secret spots” anymore; anyone can get a digital topo map app and find all the telltale signs of chukar habitat if they spent 10 minutes reading about it on this or any other of the great bird hunting blogs out there; if you’ve watched any of the dozens of videos I’ve posted on the blog or my YouTube channel, you might have noticed we don’t go out of our way to disguise the locations we hunt because it’s not that hard to figure it out. But there’s no sure thing, which is why I think chukar hunting is a good metaphor for life; if one wants to be assured of shooting chukar, a game farm would be the best bet.

Image result for chukar in pens
These birds will usually be here.

So do yourself a favor if you want to be a chukar hunter and get out there and explore all the amazing public land while it’s still open to us all. Find the birds yourself and you’ll be prouder for it, and in better shape because of it.

12 Replies to “Where to Hunt Chukar”

  1. Just yesterday we had a fellow that watched us bump some sharptail which landed near our vehicle parked 1/2 mile away. He quickly pulled over and gave chase without shame. You don’t see that very often in “real” chukar country. Thank goodness.

    I am with you, I don’t mind the occasional birdless walk. Half the fun of chukar hunting is finding new honey-holes. But, I prefer to explore by myself since not many folks appreciate burning 3,000 calories without burning any gun powder.

    1. I’ve seen and experienced the etiquette-lessness you describe while fly fishing and big game hunting, but – knock on wood – not chukar hunting. I’m not surprised to hear you’re of the same ilk, Jay; for us, it might have originated with being newbies a long time ago and getting skunked more often than not and realizing that if we’re driving all that way, and burning all those calories, we might as well find other things to enjoy beside fetching feathers. But I also think it’s because we grew up in the outdoors in non-hunting families and learned to appreciate nature for itself, not what we could harvest from it. Whatever the case, I’m glad chukar country is what it is. Maybe because of that it’ll stay that way for a while. Thanks for your comment.

      1. That sounds very familiar to me. Similar upbringing. I invited a neighbor hunter to go chukar hunting and he said “I’ll be honest, if we have to go looking for them I’ll be done by 10am”. He’s not a lazy guy, but he just doesn’t have the patience or appreciation. He grew up shooting pheasants here in the Cali Central Valley, deer hunting etc. I think a part of it is he was spoiled by hunting the farms of his buddies growing up.

  2. I’ve asked many of my students if they’d like to come with me. Most say it looks too hard and there’s not enough shooting. But just yesterday, one of my larger, out-of-shape kids stopped by my room during lunch and ate a chukar leg with me. He said he’d kill himself to get up the hill to shoot one of those, they’re so good.

  3. One of the most enjoyable aspects associated with our love of this bird is the lack of other hunters (almost always none) while we search the stunning landscapes to locate the birds or not. Many days are chukarless but provide countless encounters with eagles, hawks, deer, cougar and many other inhabitants of these beautiful places we trek. Bob and Leslie, thank you so much for sharing your adventures and thoughts about this
    wonderful sport.

  4. Hotspotting drives me nuts.
    I believe that social media is a big part of the problem. Most of these FB Upland hunting groups have daily posts of “Not asking for your honey holes, but was wondering if someone could point me in the right direction to find some Chukars?”, or “ Is such and such Creek, or is (insert small town name here) a good area for Chukars?”. The amazing thing is, there are hunters on these groups that oblige these people. I saw where an older guy told someone what road to drive, and then where to park. Then I saw one guy complain that he can’t hunt his favorite spot anymore, because every time he goes there are trucks parked there. I try not to be mean about it, but I worked too hard to find my good hunting and fishing spots to give away to a complete stranger.
    I will usually help someone in telling them what type of terrain, cover, etc. when trying to find birds. I used to do the same fishing. I’ve never given up a spot though.
    I think people should think about posting their hunts online, and be more cautious about the info that they share, as there are countless people out there seeing that information.

    1. Thanks, Scott. I don’t look at any of the social media upland groups anymore because I got bored with the tailgate shots of loads of dead birds and “attaboy” comments. The requests I get for spots seems to have died down. We’re entering my favorite part of the season. I’m looking forward to finding some new spots. I hope the same for you.

  5. Went on my first Chukar last week. It was a blast. No shooting, saw a Mountain Lion! Right at the beginning of the hunt 3 beautiful chukar flew right over me. Didn’t recognize them as Chukar until they flew past. I know where I’m going back next time, also to fill my Mountain Lion tag. Had no idea there would be Mountain Lions there or I would have brought a rifle. Great day either way!

  6. This really resonated with me. I got into Chukar hunting because I simply needed an excuse to explore and escape the “noise.” This is my first year in the pursuit. Skunked three outings until I finally flushed a covey. That reward!!! What an experience! The truth? It was simply a bonus to an otherwise fantastic, quiet retreat in the desert. Last three times I hunted? Not so much as a call.

    Friends ask me where to hunt Chukar. “Wherever they are….there they are! Fight the miles…you’ll be thankful”

Chirp away

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