I have been known to wear pac boots in snow or my ultra heavy-duty indestructible mountaineering boots later on a trip when I'm footsore and my ankles hurt. Usually, though, I wear a medium weight, all leather, Goretex® lined, pair of Zamberlan boots. I often wear a pair of gaiters over these boots if there is snow or heavy frost. Occasionally I'll even wear gaiters in the early season to keep pebbles and stickers out of my boots.
I get positively cranky when I leave my brush pants at home. I've worn brush pants for so many years in every imaginable hunting condition that I just don't feel right without them. They're a little warm early in the year but the cordura facing is great when pushing through sage brush and juniper and even helps turn cactus spines away. As the weather turns cooler, you'll appreciate how the cordura breaks the winter winds and diverts sleet, snow and even some rain.
For the torso, I start with a moisture-wicking layer of performance polyester or polypropylene, CoolMax® or equivalent, in short sleeve in the early season and long sleeve when it is cooler. If it's cold enough, I add a medium weight insulating layer, of polyester fleece or soft merino wool, or two thinner layers. I like to have a zip-neck so that I can regulate my body temperature better when climbing and descending.
For the outer layer, when the weather is really severe, I wear an insulated goretex shell and my Elmer Fudd hat. Otherwise, a simple windbreaker and a brimmed hat of some sort usually suffices.
On top of everything else, I wear a hunter orange hunting vest stuffed with all of the essential and non-essential gear listed above, not enough food, too much water and way too many shells. The latter I justify because I once ran out of shells many miles from the truck and vowed never to let that happen again; a chukar hunter's vow is not to be taken lightly. I drape a dog whistle around my neck, stuff the remote for an Innotek® Track N Train dog collar and a pair of gloves somewhere in my vest and off I go.
No wonder I get tired. That is a LOT of stuff. Sure wish I'd have saved room for some mountain money.
In my opinion, the perfect chukar hunting vehicle is a 4WD Toyota T100, V6, 5-speed, extra cab with camper shell, winch and tow rope. It will go almost anywhere, has a good blend of power and fuel economy that will get you in a good long ways without those gas can fumes the Chevy and Ford crowd breathe, and has enough storage for you, your hunting buddy and your dogs for a week of chukar hunting and camping. And Toyota reliability. I drove my T100 over 170000 miles and it NEVER broke down.
I know I'm treading on dangerous ground here; folks get mighty defensive of their chosen make. I've been known to knock the domestics from time to time, but I'm quite sure that more chukar have been taken out of Ford and Chevy pickups than all the other makes and models combined.
I no longer own the quintessential chukar hunting rig. I must be a fargon idiot as I sold it in 2003 in favor of a Toyota 4Runner. The new rig takes a back seat to the T100 in ground clearance and storage capacity, but has an automatic transmission, more power, room for four and handles better on the long road to chukar country.
The 4Runner also boasts anti-lock brakes, limited slip differentials, hill start assist control, downhill assist control, and vehicle stability control; all of which makes it easier for occasional four-wheelers to stay on the road and negotiate difficult terrain. You can achieve the same objective with less advanced four wheel drive systems through prudish application of the brake pedal, but why not enjoy the technology? I've feathered the brake pedal many times on steep, loose or treacherous grades. Just push the DAC button. It's too easy.
My 4Runner lasted one chukar season. By "lasted", I don't mean to imply that it wore out; I've never had a Toyota break down on me. Rather, I came to my senses and realized that this country boy is a pickup man and traded the 4Runner back in the next fall for a 2005 Toyota Tacoma. Three days later I was in eastern Oregon breaking that bad boy in.
After all of that hoopla, use what you own! I've hunted chukar out of my Jeep Cherokee (which I parked on a hill because it broke down so often), a cadre of rental cars (necessitated by vehicle #1), a Ford Bronco (a gas guzzling outfit with limited range), a Chevy Suburban (dashboard electrical shorts), a serviceable Ford Expedition, a well equipped Dodge Ram pickup, my gone but not forgotten Toyota T100, my 4Runner that was fit for a dandy, my new Tacoma, and a few other rigs that I can't remember right now.
All Terrain Vehicles
An ATV, as its name implies, will go just about anywhere. But just because it can, doesn't mean you should. Pat Wray, author of The Chukar Hunter's Companion, takes a dim and prejudicial view of "ATV hunters." But owning an ATV doesn't make you an ATV hunter any more than owning 4x4 makes you a road hunter. Exercising common sense, using your ATV appropriately, and staying on established roads and trails should keep you out of the former category.
Before I leave ATV etiquette behind, consider that when the roads in chukar country are muddy, big trucks leave huge ruts behind. The ranchers who use the roads year around are forced to contend with the ruts long after the fool who made them is gone. If you abandon your F-350 in favor of an ATV on a wet and muddy day, your local rancher may thank you instead of curse you.
I don't own an ATV. I've not even been on them much. My experience is limited to a few hours on a friends' quadruanners, so it may seem that I don't have a lot to offer on the subject. I have, however, seriously entertained buying one for chukar hunting and discussed the matter with many chukar hunters who do own them. Taking your ATV chukar hunting is just a little bit different than taking it for a romp around the local off-road terrain park. Here are some things to contemplate.
Protecting your dome. You may be hard-headed, but I'm willing to bet my most prized shotgun that rocks in chukar country are harder. Don't be stupid, wear a helmet.
Getting unstuck. Before you get stuck, follow the Boy Scout's motto: Be Prepared. Install a winch on your ATV and stow a small, folding shovel.
Securing your shotgun. You can buy an inexpensive gun rack that consists of a couple of U brackets that mount on the handle bars. It works, but if you hunt in muddy conditions you'll want a fully enclosed case that mounts to your ATV and keeps your shotgun clean and safe until get to your destination.
Transporting your dog. If your chukar dog is not too big, you can strap a medium size dog crate on the back of most larger ATVs. If you have a big dog or more than one, you might try Paul's method. He tows his ATV to the field on a trailer. Once there, he unloads the ATV, unhooks the trailer from his pickup and attaches it to his ATV. Voilà ! Cargo space. Paul has all the room he needs for dogs, gear, or even hunters he wants to take further down the road.
Now that I'm older and grayer, I've given some thought to expanding my definition of the perfect chukar rig. I've even considered buying an RV. Oh, go ahead and call me soft; I've slept my share of nights on frozen ground. A hot meal out of the cold desert wind and a soft bed sound pretty good to me after a long day of chukar hunting.
You can probably take a motor home in further in most places than you can a pickup and trailer, but the latter gives you more options once you've established home base. With a motor home though, you could bring along an ATV or tow a small four-wheel drive behind.
Two more words to put in your brain before we leave alternative transportation. Jet boat. These watercraft can provide you access to river canyon areas you can't get to without a pack mule. I want one. If you watch John Ryan's A Fistful of Chukars video, you'll want one too .
Now, if you don't happen to have an extra $50K laying around, you can traverse the big canyons in more modest craft. I have a 12' aluminum "catalog" boat, a.k.a. Sears Gamefisher, with a 15 horse Mariner on the back. Although you may not be warm, dry, and cozy, you can still bring home chukar.
Accessories for your Rig
I've had lots of flats in the 4-ply tires that are stock on most new vehicles. The manufacturers spec them because the ride is cushier for the suburbanites who buy the bulk of the four-wheel drives on the market. I've yet to flat in the 6-ply tires I replace them with. Don't buy 4-plies, you'll be sorry if you do.
I also carry two sets of heavy duty tire chains. Not cables, the kind made out of real chain. I like to believe that if I can get in under 4WD, I can get out with 4WD + chains. It's a good theory, but if you are stuck in the mud, you are in serious muck. Chains may only dig you in deeper. You better have a long towrope. I carry two. And a shovel.
- How To Hunt Wild Chukar Partridge
- Academy of Alectoris Chukar
- Guns to Hunt Wild Chukar Partridge
- Gear to Hunt Wild Chukar Partridge
- Dogs for the Desert
- Where To Find Wild Chukar Partridge
- Hunt Strategies and Tactics for Wild Chukar Partridge
- Chukar Partridge FAQs
- Chukar Tales and Red-Legged Liars
- Weather Conditions and Forecasts for Chukar Country
- Chukar Partridge References