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.
7 thoughts on “To shoot or not”
I recall taking my 12 yo daughter on a first upland bird hunt. in the stubble a sharptail head appeared and we both saw it. She asked….”Can i shoot it?” I said “Sure” and she blasted it on the ground. She couldn’t have been happier nor me more happy for her. What is wrong with that? She did get a duck on the wing the same hunt so it is a learning process for a youngster. Don’t deny them early success in my opinion.
I guided chukar hunters for years in the Brownlee Reservoir area. Most of my clients were from the East coast of the U.S. I didn’t guarantee that they would get a bird, but if it got to the end of there time with me, I would encourage them to take a bird. I felt it important that the hunters needed have a rewarding and successful time. A lot of my older hunters had chukars on there bucket list.
I have read the same statistic in other publications over the years. I must be one of the fortunate few that exceeds this statistic.
Thank you for your thoughts.
Thanks Greg and Jeff. I remember taking Conner quail hunting when he was ten. There was no way he could swing the gun on a flying quail. I encouraged him to shoot one sitting on a branch. Wow! was he excited to pick up that bird. Also, when I’m pushing the mid 80’s and I’m struggling to get up a hill, just getting one more of those devils will excite me no matter how it’s done. Like Jeff and Greg, we’re the fortunate ones, sometimes we forget that there are a lot of hunters that don’t have the same opportunities. We shouldn’t take away from their successes because it’s not our way.
I take it back. After today’s hike I better make that last comment mid 70’s instead of mid 80’s.
Great….now I am good to go for some ground sluicing…..
If I am old enough to ground sluice, do I need to get out of the truck first?
You old fart. I’ve seen you in action and the only time you’re in a truck is getting to the hunting grounds. You may have me whipped in age but I ain’t going to feel sorry for you yet.