I read a brochure put out by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. It’s called Western States Chukar and Gray Partridge Management Guidelines. It’s all about my favorite bird, chukar and huns. It’s about the different states they reside in, as well as descriptions of the birds, distribution, reproduction, habitat requirements, water and feed needs, and mortality. It also shows population trends and harvest trends of the western states. There was one particular statistic that really grabbed me. I’ve seen similar stats like this before, but a question asked in another upland site made me want to post this stat.
On page 22 of this publication was this statistic. 8 states offered chukar hunting opportunities: Ca, Co, Id, Nv, Or, Ut, Wa, and Wy. Over the 2005-2015 time period, these states collectively averaged approximately 50,000 hunters. Each hunter spent 5.1 days afield/season and harvested 6.0 chukar/ season. The hun statistic was even more dismal.
First off, that should make a lot of us feel real lucky. That means out of all us chukar hunters we average 1 bird per day. Sometimes some of us get more birds so that means there were those who didn’t get any birds. Kind of puts those good and bad days afield into perspective. To most of us luckier ones, those numbers don’t matter. I assume that most of my readers are the luckier ones. Now, let’s pretend that we weren’t.
That brings me up to the question proposed by that other upland site. Do you think shooting a chukar on the ground is ethical? The last time I looked there was over 40 responses. Most of them would never shoot a bird on the ground. Some used safety issues which should always be considered. I for one won’t shoot a chukar on the ground for multiple reasons. Safety around the dogs, dog training issues, and just that I’m fortunate enough to see enough birds in a season that killing the bird isn’t that necessary. Besides, my dogs would laugh at me if I missed the bird standing.
Now, put yourself in the position of the hunter who never gets a bird. The opportunities are few and there is a chukar running up the ridge twenty yards ahead of him. He either has no dog or the dog is safely behind him. He shoulders his gun and puts the bead on the chukar. Suddenly in the back of his mind he remembers some chukar hunter say “I’d never shoot a chukar on the ground”. He lowers the gun and the next time he see’s the bird it flushes out of range up the slope. He kicks the dirt and proceeds up the ridge with burning legs and lungs.
I, for one, will never put that thought into the back of your mind. Each of us has to define ethics. Think of all the miles you have put in and come home empty handed. When you finally put that bird in your vest, you should be tickled about it as long as you accomplished it legally.
Here’s to hoping for a year where everybody’s success is better.