On Huns

A pair of English Pointers team up on a Covey of Huns

A pair of English Pointers team up on a Covey of Huns

“At the turn of the last century a group of Calgary Sportsman led by the infamous Judge Winters  where concerned with the decline of Sharptail Grouse Habitat caused by land  being cleared for farming.The Judge and his cronies decided that a “new” bird was needed to be introduced to their Southern Alberta stomping grounds.They first tried Bobwhite Quail but they where no match for the Alberta winter.

Nice Guns gracing the Steppes

Nice Guns gracing the Steppes

As the story goes lJudge Winters then brought in 5 pair of Hungarian or Gray Partridge (Perdix Perdix) from a game farm in Pennsylvania and released the birds south of Calgary near present day De Winton Alberta.

Crush and Squeaky pointing Huns

Crush and Squeaky pointing Huns

The rest is history as the off spring of that first introduction radiated out across the Northern Plains into Montana,Saskatchewan,S.W. Manitoba,Wyoming and The Dakotas.Since that initial planting Huns (as they are referred to by Hun Hunters ) they have provided great sport to numerous bird hunters across the West.

Hungarian Partridge Covey

Hungarian Partridge Covey

When comparing Hungarian Partridge to other Western Gamebirds they are minimalists requiring very little in habitat requirements and tend to flourish in Agricultural areas namely wheat fields with cover close by.

Old Farmsteads our an example of everything Gary partridge need for habitat

Old Farmsteads surrounded by wheat fields are an example of everything Gray partridge need for habitat.In good years they will support up to 4 coveys

The cover components required is quite simple,they need nesting cover made up of native or “tame” grasses such as  Alfalfa  or Eurasian Crested Wheat Grass.Woody  cover such as Caragana Hedges,willows or Sage Brush provide much needed shelter from cold winter winds.a-brace-of-huns
Like most game birds newly hatched Gray Partridge feed on insects namely  Grasshoppers, switching to plant seeds as the season progresses,I.M.H.O. that is the reason why Hun Populations seem to be very stable in areas that grow cereal crops.
Wheat Fields Intermixed with tracts of native grass are likely spots

Wheat Fields Intermixed with tracts of native grass are likely spots

Prior to harvest  fields are for the most part a sea of Grass.From my observation Birds pair up in late March  and nesting takes place in June.Females lay up to 20 eggs and if the hatch is successful they do not re nest,unless the first hatch is unsuccessful then the female will keep trying, laying fewer and fewer eggs until a new generation is created.
Busted

Busted

Gray Partridge Populations will fluctuate year to year if the winter is “hard” or poor nesting conditions are a concern.Overall they  are hardy minimalists,scratching out a living in places where other game birds cannot.

Martha Retrieves a Hun

Martha Retrieves a Hun

When I lived in Calgary Alberta my dogs and I where one team of perhaps five that soley dedicated  the bulk of our our hunting time to chasing Hun’s as most hunters in Calgary hunted Pheasants,Gray Partridge that they  harvested where normally  incidental.

covey-rise

Covey Rise

That trend seems to be the norm,hardcore Hun Hunters are a different breed,settling for Points and Covey Rises vs. cackling Pheasants rising out of Cattails.Success is measured in miles walked vs who gets to be the “Blocker”.

Some of my "Young Guns" getting at it

Some of my “Young Guns” getting at it

A dedicated  Hun Hunter  runs pointing dogs and generally shoots an O/U or SxS gun, making use of a tighter choked barrel for those often long shots.Guns choked IC and Mod get it done and #6 shot is the best all around load.

Gray Partridge and a SxS

Gray Partridge and a SxS

The Hungarian Partridge is a natural for Pointing Dogs.A smart “Hun” Dog figures it out fast,casting out int the sea of wheat stubble  then back into and running the edge of the cover.
Sharptails are often found in same area or habitat

Sharptails are often found in same area or habitat

They learn to point from a far,slamming on the brakes as soon as there is a whiff of scent …and if to close then  lying down and “setting”.A good dog learns that Huns do not tolerate any sloppy dog work.
"Idaho Bill" a young Pointer works a road allowance

“Idaho Bill” a young Pointer works a road allowance

Over the years I have been fortunate to have some great Hun Dogs,they dialed Huns quickly  and soon would earn an attachment or addition to their call name,Wheat Strip “Ted”, “Covey” the Road Hunter  and Cautious “Clint” are examples.

When the chips where down running Legendary Wheat Strip “Ted” would always produce results

What keeps myself and others going back is the sportiness of a bird that is  twice the size for a quail yet flies at 45mph vs 25 mph.Sorry no “popcorn” covey rises just a bunch of birds blasting out and calling all at once.After a hunter gets hosed usually “Bobwhites on Steroids” is a comment made.
Evening Point

Evening Point

For those that want to go chase this wily game bird on The Great Plains Alberta,Montana,Saskatchewan and Wyoming seem to be the go-to destinations.Combining  other Upland Prairie Birds or Waterfowl with a trip to Praiires can be easily done. Now that the Hungarian Partridge numbers are in the rise across their Northern Plains Range  you won’t be disappointed.
Kate retrieves a hun

Kate retrieves a hun

Covey Rise

Covey Rise

Author: Dave Brown

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6 Comments

  1. nice post Dave. How are the bird numbers. A lot of crops still up here, believe it or not, and now we’ve got snow. Sheehs.

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    • Thanks Jim,there are lots of birds this year but with all the snow its making it tough to get out

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  2. Great stuff Dave. You should spin a bunch of this out into separate posts. I’d keep reading. So would Google!

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    • working on it Tom -hope you guys are well

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  3. Nice piece Dave, I was in Sask again for the weekend, most sharptail I have ever seen! Huns are rebounding very well too, shot back to back doubles on partridge over solid points, living the dream, cheers…..oh yea, the gumbo is next to impossible!

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    • The Roads suck around here also Steve -Good shooting Amgio

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