From waterfowl, snipe and cranes to pheasant, grouse and partridge, the Prairie provinces offer wingshooters unparalleled opportunities
Known colloquially as “Huns,” Hungarian partridge were initially introduced on the Canadian prairies more than 100 years ago. Also referred to as grey partridge, they’ve been here so long and have adapted so well to our prairie climate that we generally now accept them as one of our own. It doesn’t hurt, either, that their drab brown-grey reminds us of our native grouse.
Prime habitat for these partridge can look intimidatingly barren, a sea of stubble broken up by the occasional fenceline hedgerow, slough bottom or abandoned farmyard. Rest assured the birds are out there somewhere—you just have to find them. Luckily, their home range is pretty small, so if you’ve found Huns in a specific location in the past, there’s still likely a covey or two nearby.
Experienced partridge hunters keep bankers hours; there’s little sense trying to catch these birds in the open stubble, where they feed on grain and insects, early in the morning. You’re better off waiting until mid-morning, after the dew is off the grass, when they’ve returned to cover; they do not like wet conditions. Search the obvious patches of habitat thoroughly, and you’ll enjoy success.
Huns often flush as a covey, so always be ready
Huns will often hold tight, especially early in the season, and typically flush as a covey, so you must always be ready. Resist snap-shooting or flock-shooting; you’ll either decimate these delicate birds or miss altogether. Count a Mississippi or two after the flush, pick an individual bird, and mark where it falls before swinging onto another. Huns have a unique way of disappearing when they go down, and when wounded they can squeeze into cover so tight an anorexic butterfly couldn’t slip through.
Given time, Huns will recovey after they flush. Mark where they land and go after them immediately; you’ll often flush them again as singles and pairs.