NV hunters excited as chukar season looms

Reno, Nev. (AP) – Thousands of Nevada hunters are getting
excited as the hunting season looms for the state’s most popular
game bird: the chukar (chuck-ur).

Nevada Department of Wildlife officials said the 2009-10 chukar
season should be good for most of the state partly because of a wet
spring that led to higher chick production.

About 12,000 hunters are expected to take part in the hunt for
the bird from Oct. 10 through Feb. 7.

“It’s a huge deal. When I go out in public, I’m constantly
getting queried, ‘How’s chukar going to be?” said NDOW spokesman
Chris Healy.

“And it’s big for rural Nevada. Go to Winnemucca during a good
chukar year, and hotels and restaurants are full because of chukar
hunters,” he added.

Battle Mountain, about 220 miles northeast of Reno, holds an
annual “Chukar Tournament and Feed” every November.

The first hunt for the bird in Nevada took place in 1947, 12
years after it was introduced in the state. Chukars were first
introduced in nine counties and became established in all 17
counties by 1979. The bird in the pheasant family originated in the
rugged uplands of the Middle East.

Not only does chukar taste good, Healy said, but it helps fill a
void for hunters unable to draw big-game tags.

“It’s easy for everyone to get one,” he said.

Coveys comprised mostly of young birds allow hunters to approach
within shotgun range for at least the first half of the season.

NDOW officials said the upcoming season should be better than
the previous two seasons with ample birds available.

This year’s wildfires have not adversely affected chukar habitat
in Nevada, but many chukar hunting areas are still suffering the
effects of nearly a decade of major wildfires.

About 6 million acres of wildlife habitat burned in Nevada
between 1999 and 2007.

The blazes adversely affected many chukar populations by
destroying native shrubs important for cover, nesting and forage,
NDOW officials said.

The chukar also is the most popular game bird in several other
Western states.

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