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Gunning for Huns

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    The Hungarian Partridge is a strong flyer and the birds also like to form coveys, as do bobwhite quail. In this picture, the Hun is wearing white “spectacles” which is a piece of plastic slipped onto its beak to help keep it from picking at the tail feathers of other birds. The Huns and quail co-habit well when raised in pens. These Huns are youngsters about 12 weeks old and do not yet have the bright coloration they’ll have as adults. LISA PRICE/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

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    The Hungarian Partridge is a strong flyer and the birds also like to form coveys, as do bobwhite quail. In this picture, the Hun is wearing white "spectacles" which is a piece of plastic slipped onto its beak to help keep it from picking at the tail feathers of other birds. The Huns and quail co-habit well when raised in pens. These Huns are youngsters about 12 weeks old and do not yet have the bright coloration they'll have as adults. LISA PRICE/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

Published August 17. 2018 11:33PM

Currently, if you wanted to hunt the Hungarian Partridge, you’d be wise to build a couple travel days into your hunting trip. You’d be headed to Washington, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Minnesota or the Dakota’s.

But earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Game Commission gave preliminary approval to list the Hungarian partridge, currently a game bird without sustainable wild populations anywhere in Pennsylvania, as a wild bird to allow the release of lawfully-acquired Hungarian partridges for dog-training or hunting. It is likely that the proposal will be formally approved.

Zack Zawada, Zukovich Game Birds LLC, Hometown, predicted that the state’s hunters are going to enjoy the new opportunity. Zawada will be raising the birds, also known as Grey Partridge, English Partridge or just Huns. Zawada already raises pheasants, chukars and quail for the game bird industry (www.Zgamebirds.com, 570-386-5100, sales@zgamebirds.com).

The bird purchasing process has become very streamlined. Hunters can order birds via the website, and pay online by credit card. They can pick up birds at the farm or have them shipped.

“They (the huns) are beautiful birds and strong flyers,” he said. “They’re not easy to raise but they are well worth the effort.”

The birds do have stunning coloration. They have brown backs, gray sides and chest, and a white belly with chestnut-brown (rust colored) markings. In flight, their tail will show its rust color. Although they are often described as “portly” or “rotund” they typically flush low, fast and far – to the horizon.

Once flushed, they are extremely likely to flush at a great distance the second time they are moved. For a hunter, the best bet is a double-barrel shotgun (with one barrel modified-choke, and the other full-choke). Most shot opportunities are 35 yards, minimum, on a bird that weighs less than a pound.

Upon release, they form hardy groups and will pair up and mate in the spring. The females are prolific egg-layers, making a nest of from 12-18 eggs; nests will 22 eggs have been documented. When born, the chicks are just the size of a quarter, but double in size with a day or two. Full grown, in size they resemble grouse.

In the wild, the young can only digest insects for the first 10 days after hatching. Both the male and female Hungarian partridge will travel with the brood, leading them to field edges in search of insects. Once grown, the birds prefer seeds, but will also eat grasses and clovers. Depending on conditions, they will most often rest and hide in hay fields or other grassy fields, but can be found in shelter bests or brush lines seeking shelter on windy days.

For Game Bird News:

Dates for Doves, Woodcock, Snipe

As usual, Sept. 1 will mark the beginning of dove season statewide. The first segment of the season will run through Nov. 24. It will then re-open on Dec. 18 and run through Jan. 5.

Hunters are reminded that, through a regulation change approved by the Board of Game Commissioners in April, hunting hours are now one-half hour before sunrise to sunset throughout the entire dove season.

In previous years, hunting hours during the early portion of the season did not open until noon.

For both dove-season segments the daily bag limit is 15, and the possession limit is 45.

Pennsylvania’s woodcock and common snipe seasons now have two segments. For both species, the first segment opens on Oct. 13 and closes on Nov. 24, and the second segment opens on Dec. 10 and runs through Dec. 18. Daily limits are three woodcock and eight snipe, with possession limits three times the respective daily bag limits.

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