Hunting for Keklik (stone partridge)

Bird of medium size and very dense constitution, reaching a weight of 300 to 700 grams. In all the habitats, it is a sedentary bird.

In the CIS, there are 9 subspecies of the stone partridge, which differ slightly in size, coloring of the tail and habitats. Currently, the following subspecies of the stone partridge are recognized: the Caucasian Keklik, which lives in the mountains of the Caucasus and is acclimatized in the mountains of the Crimea; Kopetdag-kiy keklik, which dwells mainly in the mountains of Turkmenistan; West-Turkmen flat keklik, dwelling in hilly sands, on small clay hills and on separate mountain plots of desert plains of western Turkmenistan; The East Iranian Keklik, which we have in limited numbers in the relatively deserted areas of Central Asia; Kyzylkum Keklik, Tien Shan Keklik, Karakum Keklik, Dzungarian Keklik and Kashgar Keklik, which live in the mountainous regions of Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

In the coloration of the feathers of the stone partridge, gray and ocher tones prevail, sometimes with brownish pink-wine and bluish tints. In all subspecies, both in males and females from the forehead through the eye and further along the sides of the head there passes a pronounced black streak that descends behind the ears along the sides of the neck and joins on the lower part of the neck in the form of a necklace. On the sides of the body, there are bright, black or chestnut strips running from top to bottom. The beak, legs and naked ring around the eyes are red. The tail feathers of the tail are chestnut-red. The chin and front of the neck, up to the black necklace, are buffy white. Most subspecies near the corner of the mouth have a small black spot.

The male differs from the female in somewhat larger sizes, with a brighter coloring of the plumage and blunt spurs on the legs, which the females lack.

At the end of February – early March, the feces split into pairs and occupy the niche site chosen by them. Both male and female, together, arrange an uncomplicated nest-pit, in which the female lays up to twelve or more eggs. The naturalists found masonry in some subspecies of stone partridge containing up to twenty-four eggs. Observations also showed that some broods are connected in one common group, led by two or three females.

Inhabitants live in the mountains at different heights. Some subspecies hardly rise above sea level, while others live at an altitude of up to 4000 meters.
They feed mainly on plant foods, eating grains, greens, kidneys, berries and fruits, as well as in a large number of different bulbs that birds dig out of the earth. Insects and other animal food, mainly beetles, spiders and all kinds of caterpillars, constitute an insignificant part of the ranch of the stone partridge.

In the way of life, all subspecies of feces differ little from each other. Usually in the mornings, at dawn, the woken cocks do a loud roll call, after which they go to feed and water. In hot daylight hours, birds rest and bathe in the sand, and by evening they again go to the vein and to the water.

Kekliki are very cautious birds and in case of danger they try to escape, running very fast, mainly up the slope, and then rise to the wing and fly low to the ground low over the earth.
All the cocks are exceptionally mobile and talkative birds. By their behavior, they somewhat resemble domestic chickens. In the habitat of the feces, their voices, similar to the chowing of chickens, can be heard in the hours of feeding. In the spring, during the breeding season, cactus-roosters are touted, and their marriage cries, resembling the sounds of “ka-ka-ka, kok-kok, kok-kok, kok-kok, kli-and-i”, are carried far to the mountains.

The meat of the feces is of excellent quality. Stone ptarmigans are the main object of sports, and in some places hunting in the mountains. In addition to humans, the feces are haunted by golden eagles, owls, various falcons and kites, wolves, foxes, stone martens and other four-legged and feathered predators.

Hunters-athletes shoot the feces with the dog, from the approach and out of the sitting at the watering hole. Hunting with pedigree dogs is almost never practiced on black mackerel, as the stone partridge, as a rule, does not stand the dog’s rack, run away from it and this greatly hurts and spoils the dog, and after running a considerable distance, they rise to the wing and fly away. Therefore, many hunters for shooting stone ptarmigans use a spaniel, working without a bar and while chasing running cocks not retreating from the hunter further than a gun shot.

Unlike the gray partridge, the feces go up from under the dog not all broods or herds at the same time, but alone and thus give the hunter the opportunity to make several shots. Young cocks, persecuted by the dog, sometimes sink and climb the wing, letting the dog and the hunter quite close.

On the hunt from the approach hunters-athletes conceal feeding or resting feces, picking up to them with great care and carefully covering themselves with terrain or bushes. With the skillful approach and great skill of the hunter, he sometimes manages to approach the stone partridges for a shot and make a successful doublet on running or flying birds.

Waters of waterfowl wait for two or three hours before noon, early in the morning and in the evenings, that is, when the cacti go to the watering place. For an hour or two before the arrival of birds on the water, a hunter, dressed in a protective color suit, near a stream, a spring or another pond frequented by the feces, arranges skiddles amongst the stones and shoots flying birds or water birds approaching the water.

It must be remembered that any hunting for the falconry is fraught with considerable difficulties, since it is necessary to get to the birds, to pursue them or wait out of the saddle in a mountainous area, and this requires great endurance, dexterity and the ability to mask well. Difficulties in hunting for cacti in the mountains are further exacerbated by the caution of stone partridges, which, due to their thin ear and excellent vision, can easily detect danger, escape in time and rise to the wing already outside the shot.

It should be noted one interesting feature of the feces: along with great caution, they are at the same time extremely curious birds. Based on this feature, many fishers hunted out feces with the help of a so-called “mare”, that is, a shield covered with bright matter. Under the guise of such a shield, the fishermen approached the birds, and the latter, interested in the bright colors of the flap, approached him with curiosity, often in large groups. Getting closer to the birds, the fishermen fired them on the ground, and sometimes they fired a dozen of stone partridges from one shot.

The widespread use of this method of hunting led to a significant reduction in the number of females. At present, this barbarous method is prohibited by law, but, unfortunately, many local hunters still use it in the habitat of the feces. Hunters-athletes must resolutely fight this kind of extermination of the stone partridge, help the environmental authorities to identify poachers who use the “mare”, and to stop such unreasonable destruction of these wonderful hunting birds of our mountain lands.

Stone partridge – the bird is not particularly strong to the shot, and for shooting it is enough to use a small fraction – № 7-5. To avoid detainees, which are almost impossible to locate, the feces shooting gun must have a fairly sharp battle and moderate accuracy.

Life expectancy of small feces is low and rarely exceeds seven years.

Keklik perfectly tolerates bondage, quickly gets used to a person, and in large enclosures it often breeds.

In captivity, feces behave much calmer than gray and bearded partridges, and therefore for observations they are much more interesting than the latter

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