If you haven’t hunted the chachalaca, this may the season to start.
This unique Texas bird is a challenging and evasive game, not to mention its name is just plain fun to say.
The chachalaca is about the size of its cousin the pheasant, and behaves like a much more cautious version of its feathery relative. While a pheasant may take wing, the chachalaca will run through trees and brush, where its brown-gray color allows into to easily escape your sight.
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You’ll typically find chachalaca in tangled brushland near water sources, feeding in flocks of four to six birds on their favorite foods of leaves, berries, and seeds.
Perhaps the most challenging part of chachalaca hunting is spotting the bird to begin with, so keep your eyes peeled. Its namesake is also its weakness – you may very well hear them before you see them, emitting the call that gives them their name during sunrise and sunset and when you flush them from the bush.
If you happen to miss them and they return to the safety of their thorny refuge, that call can sound a lot like they’re taunting you.
As for where to begin your search, your options are both geographically and legally limited. The chachalaca’s current range is limited to Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, and Willacy counties in the Rio Grande Valley.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department typically provides some public land in the area for hunting, and their site is a great resource to learn more about chachalaca season, which begins in mid-November and extends through mid-February.
As always, be sure to check the hunting regulations and secure the proper licenses before you head out. Typically a valid hunting license, all applicable stamps, and a $40 Annual Public Hunting Permit is required, and the chachalaca bag limit is five.
Since chachalaca hunting can often involve pursuing them through mesquite or thorny bushes, be sure to wear appropriate brush clothing and prepare for hot weather and lots of insects.
While trudging through the scorching Rio Grande Valley, hunting the hide-and-seek champion of the bird kingdom, take comfort in the fact that when you to do bag a chachalaca, it will make for a fine meal.
While your friends serve duck filets from their own trip, you can slyly one-up them by unveiling your own tasty and much more exotic-sounding chachalaca platter.
Try this recipe, simply replacing the pheasant with its close relative the chachalaca.
Featured image via pbase