Each feather hunt is unique and beautiful in its own way. But hunting for ular requires special skill and physical endurance from the hunter - the chance of a shot is not always given, but each meeting with this cautious peculiar bird gives a true aesthetic pleasure.
As a rule, already in the spring, I book a limit for 2-3 heads of snowcock, and with the onset of the season, the hunting snowcock begins to play more and more persistently and persistently.
After seeing the last group of hunters from far-abroad countries, the phrase “Either now, or then there will be no time” slipped through the gap formed in the busy schedule, and I went to write out a ticket. In addition to the snowcock, as a passing trophy, I pasted partridges, which are often found while hunting for snowcocks.
Hunting companions were my good neighbors, hunters - father and son: Gregory and Alexander. For them, this was the third excursion to the ular. The previous two were unsuccessful, but with an indefatigable hunting gleam in their eyes, they reassured themselves: "Next time we will definitely get it."
The ascent began at 7.30 am. The ascent to an altitude of almost 3000 meters, with short stops, takes 2 to 2.5 hours. Approximately the same amount of time, and sometimes more, is spent looking for snowcock under the snowy peaks. Finding and approaching a good distance for a shot is a great success. Ular is a very wary bird. Open landscapes allow them to notice hunters from a distance and quickly take cover from them. We hear the cry of an ular, which at first resembles the cry of a keklik, but gradually proclaims to a high “ke-ke-ke-ke”.
If the ulars notice an approaching hunter from below, they go up the slope, preventing them from approaching for a shot. If you get out from above, they take off and, screaming, fly over to the other side of the gorge, and, as a rule, fly from gorge to gorge with almost no loss of altitude. The ability to glide is highly developed in birds. I consider it a super-approach when, using all your physical capabilities, you press the ulars to the rocks. If you shoot upwards in such a situation, the frightened birds will glide right above you. This is one of the most exciting and beautiful moments in hunting. Perhaps, for the sake of these few seconds, you rave about this hunt every year, you live with dreams and hopes about another meeting with this majestic, beautiful bird!
It is very difficult to see snowcocks on slopes or in rocks, but often, they give out their presence with a cry, which can already be found through binoculars.
Photo by S. Saparbayev
Having already had some experience of hunting for ular in this area, we decide to go in 2 groups to meet each other along the ridges.
After a 2-hour ascent, no ular was found in the depression of the mountain range. Moving in the direction of the 1st group, I carefully examine the rolling pins in the gorges - the favorite places of rest for birds.
In the nearest sites, we did not find many traces of the life activity of snowcocks. Analyzing the census data of previous years, we came to the conclusion that this year the number of snowcock has slightly decreased. So, in the opinion of my friend ornithologist-hunter F. Karpov: “There are very few data on the biology of the Himalayan snowcock - Tetraogallus himalayensis Gray (and other species) in the ornithological literature. In particular, such important issues for the hunting economy as: ups and downs in numbers and what reasons affect this are practically not studied. We can only assume that the appearance on the hands of hunters of a large number of rifled weapons with good optics has definitely contributed to the reduction in the number of this already not very numerous sedentary bird. This is indirectly confirmed by the fact that the number of the Himalayan snowcock has been steadily decreasing since the beginning of the 90s of the last century, i.e. with the beginning of the massive acquisition of long-range weapons by our hunters. As for diseases and other natural factors that can seriously affect the number of birds, specific data are needed here, which, unfortunately, are not available. "