Hailing from the Middle East, this bird mainly eats seeds and grasses, but also enjoys insects and small grains when available. Closely related to the gray partridge, the chukar is found mainly in the western US.

chukar1.jpgBoth the males and females of this species are colored the same, possessing an easily identifiable black band that passes through eye, parallel black stripes that cover the side and a gray breast. The male is a little bit bigger than the female, though, growing to be roughly a foot in length and weighing a pound. (Both sexes have a very short life span.)

Unlike the hun and the ring-neck, chukars move a lot in their daily routine, often as much as a mile a day and up to 40 miles a year. They can be found heating themselves on rocks in the early morning sun and along water sources later in the day once the temperatures have risen.

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chukar2.jpgChukars are monogamous birds and during the mating season the male will make its shrill call and circle the female, strutting and dancing to entice her to breed. Hens will nest on the south side of rock faces, their nests usually being shallow depressions lined with feathers and grass, and these birds are best suited for life in high, dry, rocky terrain. (It must be dry because droughts and high levels of snow will starve the birds by killing off the grasses they eat.)

The coveys, with populations of 20-30 birds, are looked over by one bird who stands guard high atop the group and scouts for predators. Chukars depend strongly on seeing and hearing to detect predators and they run when alarmed, usually uphill, but they always flush downhill.

This means you should hunt them over the top of rocks, if possible, because it will force them to flush right away as they will be unable to run uphill. And remember that the coveys typically don’t hold together when they flush, so you should be able to get good shots at single birds rather than at the whole group.

Hunting chukars means lots of open terrain and long distance shooting, usually best accomplished with a 16-20 gauge shotgun with a full or modified choke and 6 or 7 1/2 shot.


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