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Thread: Chukar call for ptarmigan

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    Member TMCKEE's Avatar
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    Default Chukar call for ptarmigan

    I recently came across an article about using a chukar call for ptarmigan...anyone have any experience with this? If they respond it'd be a good way to determine if its worth walking into an area. Will it work for willows and rocks?

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    TMCKEE,
    that is very interesting..ive never heard of that before.
    im sure it would work though when you know there around and make a chicken like cluck i know theyll respond to that..
    i say go give it a try on august 10th then get back on here to tell us if it works!

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    Tyler,

    Where did you read that? I'd be interested in reading it as well. You know, ptarmigan have quite a number of different vocalizations, and like learning any new language, a fella should make sure of what he is saying lest you offend!

    Very interesting. I have tried a hawk scream to keep the birds from flushing wild, but it really didn't seem to work.

    Jim

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    I'm trying to find the article again...it was posted on a website out of Kodiak. I think it was Mack's sports shop, but I can't remember. I was up late a few weeks ago feeding the baby and doing a little websurfing. I hadn't thought about it until yesterday and I haven't been able to find the site. I'm limited to the sites I can access from work and don't really have time to do much anyway. I'll post it if I can find it. He didn't talk much about technique, just that he found that it worked.

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    I think this may be the link, but unfortunately I can't open it to find out: www.mackssportshop.com/docs/ptarmigan%2009.doc

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    Yes, it is Macks Sporting Goods in kodiak, hes a very very avid bird hunter out of kodiak..but yes that is the name (FYI im from Kodiak).
    that is very interesting so is your idea jim...miight have to try that out..our those sounds downloadable to the foxpro?

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    Quote Originally Posted by TMCKEE View Post
    I think this may be the link, but unfortunately I can't open it to find out: www.mackssportshop.com/docs/ptarmigan%2009.doc
    I got this off the link:

    HEAD HIGH FOR PTARMIGAN
    By
    Hank Pennington

    What species is the least hunted on the Kodiak road system?
    Actually there are two. Willow ptarmigan and rock ptarmigan.
    Bag limits are liberal and the season is long, but almost no one hunts ptarmigan here.
    How can that be when they are so popular in other areas.
    The answer is easy.
    Both species live high up on Kodiak hills most of the year, and it’s a long ways to hike. Add in the fact that they’re really mobile and just might not be on the mountain you choose to climb, and ptarmigan hunting is too hard or too frustrating for most folks.
    I won’t claim that I’m a frequent ptarmigan hunter. But I can assure you that once you climb the right mountain and find the birds, it’s some of the most fun hunting you’ve ever experienced.
    Each fall it takes a couple of events to stir me to hunt ptarmigan.
    I usually don’t even think about them till I climb high for deer, then have a covey of these great game birds explode from cover close enough to scare me senseless.
    The other happens even when I don’t head into the high country for deer. Along about now I glance up from my fishing and notice that the tundra high on the mountains is starting to turn gold and red.
    I don’t know of anything more beautiful than a covey of ptarmigan feeding on berries in those fall colors.
    In contrast to upland bird hunting in other states, you can hunt ptarmigan with almost anything in Alaska. Handguns, rifles, archery, shotgun, air guns. Even slingshots, rocks and sticks. If you’re good enough, have at it.
    I grew up with a strong tradition and lots of experience wing shooting upland birds with shotguns. I’m not saying it’s necessarily best, rather I enjoy it most.
    In my first encounters with ptarmigan I carried a 22 handgun along with my deer rifle. That worked great on days they were within my effective range, but often I just couldn’t get close enough.
    To solve the range problem, I started carrying reduced loads for my deer rifle, switching to those once I confirmed the deer had chosen a different mountain for the day.
    Then I took stock.
    It occurred to me that I usually saw ptarmigan more often than deer, and in fact I could get deer at lower elevations if my high country hunt didn’t work out.
    So I reversed my strategy. I started carrying a shotgun for ptarmigan and a handgun for deer. That was the start of my 20 year passion for handgun deer hunting, so I garnered bonus points all around.
    Ptarmigan are unpredictable in my experience.
    One day they will be on one mountain, and another on the next. Some days you can watch them vacate your chosen mountain and fly to the next before lunch. I’ve seen the reverse too. I hadn’t found a bird all morning, when suddenly large flocks suddenly flew in from nowhere.
    That’s just the nature of the hunt. You make your best guess before starting a climb, then deal with the conditions once you break through the brush line and into the open tundra.
    In general terms I don’t think ptarmigan like wind. They tend to retreat to the lee sides of the mountain, downhill into the brush, or simply vanish. Rock ptarmigan are more prone to the lee sides and the next mountain, while willow ptarmigan move downhill into the grass and brush on the lee side of a mountain on windy days.
    You will also find that ptarmigan “personality” changes from day to day and even from hour to hour. And you have to plan accordingly.
    On some days they are about as smart as mushrooms. They walk around in front of you like barnyard chickens and only reluctantly take flight. You could call those good “rock and stick” days.
    But an hour later or a day later, the same birds suddenly turn smart. And perverse! They will take flight at the first glimpse of you, no matter what the range. You’ll feel like you’re on a turkey hunt, carefully stalking and concealing yourself till you finally manage to sneak into range.
    Due to the unpredictability it’s a very good idea to be well prepared for diverse hunting. You need to be ready for close shooting and long shots. You need to allow lots of time and plan on walking far to find the birds on some days.
    And speaking of finding the birds, my youthful chukkar hunts provided one interesting solution. It turns out that ptarmigan simply can’t keep their mouths shut when they hear another ptarmigan.
    I don’t know of anyone that makes “ptarmigan” calls, but my old chukkar call is dandy for talking to ptarmigan. Their call is a distinctive accelerating series of “clucks” just like a chukkar.
    If you’re a dedicated wing shooter like I am, arming yourself for ptarmigan can be problematic. I’ve had some terrific hunts with my 410 double, relishing it’s light weight and fast handling, as well as its super-light ammo when climbing high on steep hillsides. But its range is limited to about 25 yards.
    At the other extreme, a 12 gauge gives you the option of using light “upland” loads and open chokes for the close shooting along with heavy magnum loads and tight chokes when shots turn long.
    The downside of a 12 gauge is that most, along with a couple of boxes of shells, turn very heavy by the end of a long day of hiking and climbing.
    In between the two extremes are options. While I love a good 16 gauge, they offer only a small weight savings and no option for magnums for long shooting. My 28 gauge double is delightfully light and it’s ammo is scarcely heavier than 410 shells, even as it stretches my range to around 35 yards. But again, no magnums.
    The best compromise I have found is a 20 gauge double. Mine scarcely weighs more than my 28 gauge, yet it offers a full spectrum of shells ranging from 7/8-ounce field loads all the way up to 1 ¼-ounce 3-inch magnums. And ammo weight nicely splits the difference between 410 or 28 gauge and the heavy 12 gauge.
    Choosing the right shot size for ptarmigan is important when range is so variable.
    My 410 and 28 both do very well with @ 7 ½ shot within their range limits, and a switch to #6 and tight chokes lets me stretch the range of the 28 a little.
    In both the 12 and the 20 #7 ½ is still the best general purpose shot, but a switch to #6 is much in order when you reach into your pocket for magnum shells to stretch the range.
    All my shotguns with the exception of the 410 have interchangeable chokes, and they’re as important in my ptarmigan strategy as picking the right shot size.
    I may start the day with Skeet chokes or Improved Cylinder and Modified in the barrels, but switch to a full choke in both barrels by lunchtime. Then change the chokes back to Skeet in the afternoon!
    You just never know. That’s the nature of ptarmigan hunting in Kodiak’s high country.
    No deer and no ptarmigan on the mountain you chose to climb? Be sure and carry a few plastic bags, and you can spend the day picking berries instead.
    You’ve gone to all the trouble of climbing that mountain, so you might as well make the most of the opportunity!
    Fall has arrived in Kodiak’s high country, and no matter what your excuse, now is the time for a visit. You won’t regret the effort for a minute.

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    Thanks Kingfisher...stupid internet restrictions. That is the article, but just a passing mention of the chukar call not really a "how to guide"

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    That's a great article. I love hunting the upland birds, but have been restricted to using a .22 LR with a 2X7 scope until now (finally brought all my guns up from Juneau) so i will be carrying my .22 pistol and a 12 Gage with 8 shot (maybe a few slugs for protection). I enjoy the locate, stalk, and try to hit one with the .22 hunts every year. I actually have been cleaning out the freezer in anticipation of this years Ptarmigan/Grouse hunts. Unfortunately I dont have a dog, but am going to get one as soon as I have my own house (renting sucks).

    I have never tried to use a call, but have heard the variety of noises that these birds make. It seems as though I have been "grunted" at more than anything... I'm sure you all know what Im talking about. Sometimes I dont even know there is a bird around and then "grunt" there he is.

    Good luck to all this year. Hope to see/hear about some success stories.

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    Okay here's a link: http://www.gundogsupply.com/prmach.h...u=50524d414348

    Everyone do your homework and report success. I'm looking forward to updating my avatar with a picture of Gauge with a big fat fall plumaged willow.

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    I have used a chucker to call ptarmys. It workes for me in the late winter. I haven't tried in the fall. A chucker call is veeerrrry similar but not quite the same but it seemed to work just the same.

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    It works like a champ on Willows any time I've tried it, better for rocks later in winter. Never tried on the other one. Here's another stunt if you get out there without a call. Drop a couple of small pieces of gravel in an empty shotgun shell and rattle that. It's not as loud, but it works almost as well if they can hear it. I've never had a ptarmie come to a call, but they can't seem to resist talking back, especially after you've busted a flock and are looking for singles.

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    BrownBear - do you use a blown call or a squeeze call?

    This seems very similar to the way we would call quail in AZ. They don't come to you, but it's a good way to find out if any are in the area. And after you bust up a covey, wait a few minutes then call and you can start finding the singles and pairs as they regroup.

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    Sorry not to get back to you sooner, TMCKEE. I lost track of this thread for awhile.

    I like the squeeze calls. I just keep one in a shell loop on my vest, then reach over and tap on it a few times when the notion strikes.

    And you have the spirit, comparing it to quail calls in AZ. Same deal. I only tried the chukkar call because I still had it in my vest left over from a chukkar visit in another state. And when it got so old the bulb cracked, that's when I tried the gravel in an empty. I've since replaced the old squeeze call, but sometimes I hunt without the vest and the chukkar call gets left at home.

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