3 AM, in the front yard, in my underwear...

…holding a long handled fishing net.

A few years back, I decided to raise some chuckers in my garage. I’d never raised chuckers before, but read up enough to fool myself into thinking I could pull it off.

I built a cage, 8 ft square and 2 ft high, covered with chicken wire. Made a little hatch in one corner to put in food and water, clean the cage, etc. I bought feeders and little chick waterers and heat lamps and wood shavings and a bag of feed.

I was set! So I ordered the chuckers, they came via US mail, but I had to go pick them up. I only had one fatality in transit…not bad.

The cage was set up in the middle of the garage floor so I could close the door at night to keep the evening chill off of them. They had heat lamps to keep them warm at night, and I was also worried about dogs and cats getting at them.

So in go the chicks, and everything is fine. Except that during the day, chuckers dust. Constantly. The inside of the garage was being coated with chucker dust. Also, the hatch I put in the corner was fine for putting stuff into the cage, but impossible to get stuff out. Anytime I’d try to change the bedding, the chuckers would erupt like feathery popcorn. And there was no way to get chuckers out of the cage.

So enter the long handled fishing net. A regular dip net with a piece of 1" PVC about 5 ft long taped to the handle. Now I could scoop stuff out of the cage, but it still disturbed the chuckers. Nice, healthy, plump, nearly grown chuckers.

All was fine until one fateful night I forgot to shut the garage door. I woke up and heard something, and in an instant I knew what I’d done. I ran right out into the driveway in my underwear and could see chuckers in the drive…but they were just setting there. Maybe a dozen. I get to the garage and grab the long handled fish net. I can see that something has jumped up onto the cage and caved in the chicken wire hatch.

I fix the hatch, not many chuckers appear to be missing, what a relief. I start to stalk the chuckers, stealthy in my undies, down the driveway. They are easy to catch, but each time I snag one, the others move a few feet farther, out into the yard and down the drive to the street. It’s slow going, I have to take each captive back to the cage before snagging another and I can feel time slipping away. I’m just about done!

The last of the escapees are now in the yard, next to the street. I’m tiptoeing along, about to snag one of the last ones when…

A car turns onto the street. No time to hide and the lights are making the chucker restless, he tries to make a run for it. I have to make my move!

So there I am, in my underwear, in the front yard, holding a long handled fishing net, chasing a chucker, when the neighbors down the street pull into their drive.

(For the rest of you who are totally clueless as to what a “chucker” is, here’s a picture. I had to look it up.)

Nice story, but I doubt the Judge is going to buy it.

So many questions:

  1. Now that we know what a chucker looks like, tell us what is a chucker for? And why might one want to raise them?

  2. I didn’t know you could send birds by mail. Is that common?

  3. What is chucker dust (n.) and dusting (v.)?

  4. Did you get the last chucker?

  5. Do you still have your chuckers?

  6. Do your neighbors look at you funny now?

If you’d filmed it and posted it to the web, someone, somewhere, would be in a state of masturbatory ecstasy right now. I have no doubt.

Someone in the psych building where I had my office in grad school used to get regular shipments of live chicks (baby chickens, that is). I never had the heart to inquire what happened to them or why the supply had to be periodically replenished.

I could have been seen, some years ago, chasing a pigeon around with a Tupperware pitcher. If you stuff them in head first, they can’t work themselves out and you can carry six of them, like this. I was fully clothed, however, so no deviance angle, unless you have a thing for white lab coats.

  1. To eat! They are a partridge, about twice as large as a quail.

  2. Seems to be the common method, the guys at the PO didn’t seem fazed.

  3. They hunker down, spread their wings, and wiggle really fast in whatever food/bedding/droppings they happen to have. You get a few dozen doing this in your garage and you have a hellacious mess. I didn’t know about this behaviour or it’s consequences going into my chucker experiment. I can only guess about the composition of the chucker dust. I wore a dust mask towards the end and when I blew it out of the garage.

  4. This wasn’t my only escape. As I said, it was hard getting them out of the cage and if they got out during they day, they flew. Not far, just a yard over or so, but a lot harder to catch in the daylight. I probably lost 6 or 8 over the course of the experiment. And I had a couple die. Birds in close quarters are merciless towards the sick or injured and will peck them to death. I didn’t know this going in, either, but thankfully it wasn’t a widespread problem.

  5. Nope, they all got eaten that summer. We had a few cook-outs and I gave a few away, but once I realized how much of a hassle chucker farming was I was ready to be out of it.

  6. They never mentioned it, but there’s always something going on around here… That was a bit stranger than normal, even by my standards.

Heh. Heh.
I thought this thread would be completely different. Still, good story.

It’s quarter to three
There’s no one in the yard but underweared me
So set 'em up, Chet
I got a little story I’ll never forget
Make it one for my chucker and one more for the net…

In lederhosen?