We set out early in the morning from Reno, NV bound for Elko, NV. Along the way listen to podcasts and discuss on the radio from each vehicle the logistics of camp setup, location, and land navigation via Garmin/On X. We arrive at Elko and grab the last bit of gas needed to make the trek out to the Nevada backcountry. We headed north of Elko to a range near the Brueno river. Where the pavement meets dirt we are about 70 miles north of Elko. We get out of the trucks to let the dogs break and air down our tires and do a quick vehicle check before we set off on the dirt. As we drive along we spot a lot of game, great signs for the hunt ahead. Game including chukar and Hungarian partridge (the birds we are after) as well as antelope. Unfortunately in typical fashion it’s the day before the opener and the birds were off limits. We trek along and find a great campsite along the river in a canyon. With the hills we wanted to hunt right in the back of our camp we decided to lay stakes here. As camp is set and we begin to cook dinner we hear birds call from the high cliffs above to each other. As we settle in after dinner as the sun is setting, a covey of Huns come flying down the cliffside and almost land right in our camp! Making us eager to get the next day started.
Day 1: Before the sun rises we are up and moving. The coffee is brewing, vests are getting packed, dogs get fed, and guns get a once over and loaded. We set out, tackling the most challenging terrain first. The sheer cliff face right behind our camp where we heard birds call the night prior. As we scale up the hill side the terrain is slick and incredibly steep. We eventually make our way to the top just as the sun crests the ridge and starts to warm up the surroundings. We walk along the ridge line looking for sign and letting the dogs roam and smell. After about 20 minutes or tracking we come across a promising section of terrain. We fan out and scour the hillside, unexpectedly one of the dogs bumps a covey of “huns”. They get up and dive straight down the cliffside, a couple shots are taken. Blame it on the lack of caffeine, early morning, surprise, or first shots of the hunt. The shots were missed. We continue along the steep clive side trying to track down the covey of huns. After some time we decided to regroup at camp. While chatting over some water and coffee we hop on GPS to locate the next area we will try to cover. We decide to head down the river about a quarter mile to try a canyon we have not seen. We decide to split up to cover both sides of the canyon as we work our way up. After some hiking one of the dogs gets “scenty” and Chris stumbles across a group of huns and is able to get one in the bag.
These are beautiful birds, about the same size as the chukar. They can be identified by their rusty face, tail, streaks down the sides, and a dark belly patch.. We were all pretty excited to be able to see one up close. This mountain range is one of the only places in Nevada these can be found/hunted. These birds are more common in northern states (MT, WY, ND). Being able to hunt Hungarian Partridge and Chukar at the same time is a treat.
We worked our way to camp and decided to settle in for some lunch and let the dogs rest. After a short nap we loaded up in the Tacoma and set out for another canyon a couple miles down the river. We decided to take the same strategy as earlier to cover both sides of the canyon as we work our way up. After covering most of the area we didn’t come across any sign of birds. The sun was going down fast so we decided to turn around and head for the truck. In typical Chukar hunting fashion as we get close to the truck Chris comes across a covey right above on the hillside where the truck was parked. He was able to get one in the bag making the day a success by accomplishing a mixed bag.
Day 2: We decide to pack up early and get mobile to hit a promising area we saw on the way in. About 5 miles back out on trail we drove through a beautiful aspen grove before coming across our next area we planned to hunt. Once we are prepped we head out up the hills right above the trucks. After hiking for a bit looking for sign, we hear another hunter take a shot across the valley. This noise flushes a group of birds I saw at the corner of my eye that flew across a draw a few hundred yards away from us. We all three spread out to approach the covey. We make our way across the draw, about 30 yards out one of the dogs fish the birds and they fly directly behind us. I had to turn around to take a shot and was able to hit one of the huns about 50 yards away. This was my first bird of the trip and our first bird of the day. Unfortunately, the covey flew all the way across the valley, so we opted to keep searching the hills of the side we were on. We make our way around and come across a promising rock field. Once again we spread out to cover the most ground possible. As we walk through the rock field we bump a covey of chukar. We got some shots off and were able to get two birds in the bag. Chris had a bird for the day and I was able to secure a mixed bag on the day as well! We continued to hike for a short time after then decided to head back down to the trucks and begin the journey home. As we head out we stop at another aspen grove to grab a quick photo and change out of our hunting clothes and boots. To our surprise a Nevada game warden pulls up, which is rare; there are only 16 in the whole state. He asks us how the last couple days went an checks our licenses and stamps. We have a small conversation about his plans then he was on his way.
All in all, this was a great trip. It is always fun checking out new areas you have never been before. Taking the gamble on where to spend the weekend hunting without too much prior knowledge on the zone. I would call the 2022 Nevada chukar opener a success.