Huns

If the sharp tail grouse are the most unpredictable birds I have ever hunted the Hungarian Partridge (huns) are the most predictable of all the upland birds. It is also the bird I have hunted the most with GWP’s and the number of times I have had a point on a covey of huns numbers in the hundreds
Anne retrieve
I started road hunting for huns back in high school. In the evenings if you drove the gravel roads in southern Idaho where I grew up you could find huns gathering gravel. Once you located a covey they most likely would stay right in the same area and you could go back anytime to shoot them. Of course this makes them an easy target and if a couple guys want they can shoot the whole covey out pretty easy. They usually only fly a short distance the 1st time you flush them, and they almost always flush as a group, and land as a group. Sometimes after you break them up a couple times they will scatter a little bit, but you really have to push them to get them to do this very often. I have hunted huns in many states and found them in a wide variety of country. I have had people tell me they only live close to croplands, but I have found them out in the desert of Idaho 50 miles from any crops living in sage brush and grasslands. I have found them in rock canyons that chukar like, and I have found them in subdivisions in Rapid City South Dakota, and Sheridan Wyoming. I have found them at fairly high elevations on the mountain in open grassland areas, but they won’t stay up there when the snow gets deep. I hunted the border or North Dakota and Canada September 2012 and we found them in standing sun flower fields, open prairie grasslands, grain stubble fields, and in some tree lines, all in the same day. I have read where the annual mortality rate for huns is 70% and I know they cycle from lots of birds to nearly no birds every few years in a lot of places I have hunted them. On a few occasions after a very wet cold storm I have had a dog bring back dead huns that look perfectly healthy, but frozen stiff. One day a young GWP brought back five huns during a hunt so I don’t think they can handle bad storms like a sharp tail grouse. I have many places in many states where I could probably drive up and point to a spot and say there will be huns right there. It can be a few years between times that I go to a certain place, but I will still find them right in the same place year after year. I have had places where there are thousands of acres that all look alike and the huns will always be in the same place, sometimes within a 100 yards radius, year after year.

Annie retrieving a hun

Annie retrieving a hun

For a young GWP I can’t think of a better upland bird than the hun. The 1st thing I like is they are always in a covey during hunting season which puts off more scent than a couple birds. They rarely run anywhere and they usually just hunker down. They will flush when a dog tries to crowd them so the dog learns quickly to point at a distance. They don’t fly that far so you can work them multiple times in one day and then leave. You could come back the next day to work them in the same place, or if no one knows they are there you can wait a month to come back and they will probably be in the same place. They will eventually get pretty jumpy if you just use them as training birds and seldom shoot any like I do, but all they do is flush farther away when you walk up on them. They will still sit tight and don’t do much running as long as the dog points them at a distance no matter how wild they have become.

The other thing that is nice about huns is they are a cross over birds with many other upland birds. What I mean by that is you can be hunting pheasant with your GWP in thick cover along croplands and get a point on huns along the edges. Many times while running dogs out in the open prairies of the Dakotas, or Montana, and Wyoming one point might be sharp tails and the next point will be huns. I have a few areas in Idaho where the sage grouse and huns are always together. Most of my chukar areas are not great for huns, but I have encountered them in the same areas a few times.

They are also great eating birds. Maybe blue grouse, or ruffed grouse are better, but huns are way better than a duck, or sage grouse. Of all the upland bird hunting the hun seems to be the best for the GWP and in the right areas the hunting can be fairly flat and easy compared to say chukar or blue grouse. If you get a young dog on a covey of huns don’t get greedy with shooting them on the 1st flush because one covey can give your young GWP an entire day of hunting if you just follow them around from flush to flush.

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