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I was out of breath, sore, and exhausted. We had been chasing chukar around the steep and rocky hills of Southern Idaho the entire morning and the look on my face proved it. We scaled a cluster of jagged rocks to reach Ceder and Summit, the two German Wirehaired pointers we were hunting over, who were starting to look birdy. I took a bad fall and scrambled to get back up when two birds erupted from the brush. I emptied both barrels and Ceder did the leg work to retrieve my chukar.
It was a lot of effort for a little bird, but that’s what chukar hunting is. A physically and mentally grueling hunt, with the bonus of worrying about snakes, sharp rocks, and uneven terrain. But when it all comes together, there are few experiences in the field that compare to the excitement of flushing a covey of red-legged devil birds.
The right gear makes all the difference in chukar country. Having equipment you are comfortable in and can trust will help you perform better in the field. Here are some of the gear I used that kept me going all day in the chukar hills.
The Benelli 828U 20 gauge is compact, light, and easy to mount. Coming in at just under 6 pounds, I enjoyed carrying this gun around the chukar hills. The steep and uneven terrain of Southern Idaho made for difficult hiking. Having a light and compact shotgun served as an advantage while I scaled rocks and climbed steep hills.
What impressed me the most was how nice and easy the gun points. Even in treacherous terrain, where I often had poor footing and an uneven stance—the gun shouldered perfectly every time. I am a fan of the 26” barrel as it makes the gun as compact as possible. The 828U comes with five different chokes. The gun is built with the Benelli Progressive Comfort System in the stock, and the flexible polymer buffers absorb recoil like a charm. I never felt a thing. The downside to carrying an over/under chukar hunting is you only get two shots. But if you are looking for a lightweight over/under shotgun for the chukar hills, grouse woods, or pheasant fields—the Benelli 828 U is a solid option.
Staying as light as possible in chukar country is crucial for a comfortable and successful hunt. The Orvis PRO LT Hunting Vest is made from durable nylon with ultra-thin shoulder straps for an easy gun mount. I liked the hip strap and storage pockets that are perfect for shells and accessories. This vest can be worn on an early season September chukar hunt or a late season South Dakota pheasant hunt over layers. It is versatile, lightweight, and, most importantly, comfortable.
Arguably the most important piece of upland gear, your boots have the ability to make or break your hunt. Having blisters and sore feet will without a doubt make for a miserable day in the field. These Merrell Moab Timber Boots have not only been my go-to pair for upland hunting, but I also wear them during deer and turkey season. They are comfortable, waterproof, and durable. The three qualities that I look for most in a good pair of hunting boots. They excelled in the chukar hills and provided a strong grip on uneven and slippery terrain. My feet were the least of my concerns throughout the hunt.
The first night in chukar camp, the temperature dropped, the wind ripped, and the sky opened up. I crawled into my Mountain Hardwear Bishop Pass bag and fell right to sleep. This all-around 650 fill down bag is versatile and compact. The full length down draft tube traps heat in and prevents cold drafts from entering. I liked the overall shape of the bag as it allows for a natural sleeping position but is contoured for maximum warmth. The bag is rated for 0 degrees (F) and kept me warm each night. It is ideal for the first time down sleeping bag buyer who is looking for versatility. The bag has some awesome features to prevent cold drafts from coming in, like the hood drawcord and draft collar.
One of the most critical pieces of gear to have on any hunt is a good rain jacket. This doesn’t apply specifically to chukar hunting, but I would have been miserable if I weren’t wearing my Chugach rain jacket the first night at camp. This highly packable waterproof jacket is super light and easy to throw in an upland vest. Break it out when the sky opens up and stay comfortable and continue hunting. Perfect for any upland trip or big game hunt. It comes in various patterns, but the Valo is great for open country that lacks cover.
The Orvis Pro LT hunting gloves were one of the most useful pieces of equipment on my hunt. The natural fit made for easy mobility and comfort. The suede-palm was critical for grabbing onto rocks, branches, and brush. Having my hand protected at all times with good mobility was crucial. The most important part of any upland hunting glove is whether or not it impacts or constricts your ability to handle and shoot your gun. I can confidently say that these gloves excelled in the field and have been on every upland hunt of mine this season performing tremendously well.
I was skeptical of how useful a fully submersible bag would be on a hunting trip in the mountains until I left mine outside in the pouring rain overnight by mistake. I woke up the first morning in a panic as I realized every piece of my hunting gear was in that bag. All of my clothing and gear stayed dry. Not a drop of water entered the bag. This duffle comes in three different sizes and is perfect for any hunting or fishing trip where rain or water is a concern. The Panga Duffle will keep your gear dry. Trust me, I was dumb enough to leave it outside in the pouring rain.
Carrying a first aid kit should be a must for every hunter. Especially when you are without service and far away from help. This kit has supplies for cuts and scrapes, blisters, burns, and other injuries. Being able to provide some sort of care while in the field can be critical to safely getting an injured person back for proper treatment. This kit packs down small enough to throw in your vest and be ready for use in case the time comes when you need it.