Chukar rhymes with

The definition of joy.

On the first day, fell flat on the face and onto the shotgun. On the flat ground, which was a great irony after scrambling over shale and climbing caprock. Broke a big chip out of the butt where it meets the receiver, enough to make it unshootable. Fortunately there was a spare.
Road-flushed a covey, the only birds seen en route to burning 3,000 calories to shoot a bird the size of a Cornish game hen. (A smart-watch that tells how much vertical has been gained and lost and how many steps have been taken and calories have been burned on a chukar hunt is a blessing and a curse). Found the road covey up the mountain with the pup off somewhere over the rise, so shot one of them anyway. Out of anger more than anything. An excuse to pull the trigger on the loaner gun too.
Walked eight miles the next day and never saw a bird. Broke the truck that night. The driveline. Fortunately we had a spare truck, but we lost a day. Found some good cover on the way to the mechanic 100 miles away, a cliff near water, sagebrush, cheat, bitterbrush, lots of hiding and feeding cover, some green-up. Salvaged a couple of hours for a hike. Seven-hundred and fifty feet climbed. That damned smart-watch again. Never saw a bird.

Cozy camp.

Snowed that night and wood stove in the camper made for a damned fine experience, particularly the good company and fine bison steak grilled to perfection, but then sustained a camp injury by running a crucial muscle—the thigh—into the trailer hitch in the dark. Blame it on the lack of chukar or the abundance of bourbon. Thighs are important.

Found a good covey the next day but they flushed wild and uphill despite a veteran dog working them cautiously. Put them up and over a ridge and then found single after single. Missed a rising overhead shot off a point. Clipped one down and had a nice retrieve to hand which made up for all of the previous mishaps of the previous four days. Missed the next seven shots, mostly pointed birds and some wild-flushed. Shot at everything. A chukar hill is no place for self-imposed codes of conduct.

Left the best pair of shooting gloves I’d ever owned, made by my pals at Orvis, up on the hill when I cleaned that bird. Went back the next day to look for them and maybe that covey again. Never found the gloves, but found a wild-flushing covey of four that flew into the meanest cover on the planet, never to be seen again. Lost a pocket knife, out of the pocket. Stumbled back to the truck only to find we’d left the beer in the camper 20 miles of bad road away.

Ran out of booze and beer on the last night. At least something went right.

Author: Tom Reed

Four English setters tell me what to do.

12 thoughts on “Chukar rhymes with”

  1. I think the biggest revelation from this post is that Tom Reed wears a smart watch. A close second is that he carries a spare driveline with him wherever he goes.

  2. I’ve had some pretty good Chukar hunting in my corner of Wyoming this season, but “shit happens” can happen at any moment. Take solace that at the end of the day you can retreat to the comfy modern Sheep Wagon ….unless you lose that, too :>)

  3. Nice reminder of the sheer joy of hunting those devilish birds. They have the uncanny ability to flush only when you’re rolling your ankle or dizzy with a case of vertigo.

  4. Makes this year’s Nebraska Sand Hills sharptail hunt with the Over The Hill Gang seem like a frolic in the park. Except for drowning my iPhone ($600 bad decision to wade Steer Creek). Hope your next year’s chakra hunt goes more smoothly.

  5. I too was surprised about the smart watch… but I started using one as well, so maybe I shouldn’t be. Since I went completely against the grain and switched to an autoloader there isn’t a shot opportunity I’m not taking advantage of (usually 3x, spraying and praying as I fall backwards).

  6. It’s not an adventure until something goes wrong. In this case numerous things. That was an enjoyable read and a little too familiar. Love this site!

  7. Ahh, this is why I stay subscribed to this blog. I only hunted chukar once, blissfully ignorant and led astray by a wily friend (who stayed in the bottom to chase quail). I’m back east now, and lucky to find a wild bird to watch, much less shoot. I’ll have to make do with vicarious adventure, well written and occasional in my email box.

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