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Hunter

Hunter’s Corner: A partridge in a Boscawen barn

This Chukar partridge lives at a barn in Boscawen.

This Chukar partridge lives at a barn in Boscawen.

A friend of mine who lives in Boscawen has been curious about an unusual bird that has been hanging around his barn. It is not native to the area. After consulting with a Fish and Game wildlife biologist, it was determined to be a Chukar partridge.

The Chukar has its native range in Asia – from Israel to Turkey through Afghanistan, to India along the inner ranges of Western Himalayas, to Nepal. It was introduced as a game bird and populations have established in the Rocky Mountains, Great Basin and the high desert areas of California. Generally, the species is largely unaffected by hunting or lass of habitat.

The normal breeding season for Chukars is in the summer, when they form pairs to breed. So how is it a Chukar shows up in Boscawen? In all probability, fertilized eggs were imported and hatched by a farm or hunting preserve. Bob has been advised to continue feeding it cracked corn. Predators such as foxes, bobcats, owls and coyotes frequent barns looking for easy prey such as field mice and other creatures that hang around barns. I think the Chukar can survive the winter but will not survive the predators.

As a side note, the Idaho Falls Chukars are a minor league baseball affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.

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Yesterday was the end of the archery deer season. I don’t expect too many deer to be checked in, given the mild temperatures we have been experiencing. Dec. 15 marks the peak of the secondary rut. The mature bucks by this time of year are totally exhausted and have lost upwards of 30 percent of their body weight. As the secondary weight phases out, the bucks will concentrate on replenishing their fat reserves to see them through the winter months. Sadly, some of the older bucks will not make it, but their genes continue. I know of one particular area where big bucks have been taken year after year. The gene pool continues.

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Growing up in upstate New York, one of my favorite months was February, as that is when conditions for cottontail hunting were near perfect. The sounds of a beagle hot in pursuit of a cottontail was music to the ears to a rabbit hunter. New Hampshire used to stock cottontails in the early 1950s, but that too came to an end.

A special fundraising effort is now under way through Fish and Game’s Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program to support this multi-faceted restoration effort for New Hampshire’s only native cottontail.

Nine New England cottontails were born in a captive-breeding facility at the Rogers Williams Zoo in Rhode Island earlier this year. In September they were transported to a special outdoor pen at the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Newington, where they will spend the winter while transitioning to life in the wild.

In addition to captive breeding, on-the-ground habitat restoration is helping to create more of the shrub-land habitat that New England cottontails need for food and shelter. This winter, biologists will provide supplemental food and will be monitoring areas where wild New England cottontails are known to still occur.

The Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program is seeking public support for this exciting restoration effort. Tax-deductible contributions may be sent to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program at 11 Hazen Drive, Concord, NH 03301.

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Workshops in the coming year are starting to open up. The first will be a women’s fly tying course. The NH Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) and Fish and Game’s Let’s Go fishing are teaming up to offer a fly tying course that will be held from 6-9 p.m. on Wednesday evenings from Jan. 23 through Feb. 23 at the Town of Bow Fire and Rescue Facility, 2 Knox Road in Bow. Master fly tiers Jim and Kris Riccardi will be teaching the course. The fee for the course is $100. A brochure and mail-in registration is available at nhbow.com. You can also call 271-3212 for more information and an application.

Registration for becoming an Outdoors-Woman winter workshop opens Jan. 7 for Feb. 16 (snow date Feb. 17) at the Owl Brook Hunter Education Center in Holderness. A fee of $55 covers the workshop, lunch and most equipment use. Participants must be at least 18 years old. Contact nhbow.com.

(Bob Washburn can be reached at hunterscorner@aol.com.)

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