Monday, September 14, 2020

A couple of Ruffs and fire update

 Got another report on the Brownlee area and birds. Geoff says he spent a month over at Brownlee and was disappointed in number of birds seen. Especially the huns.

As far as the fire is going, Many hunters might change their plans on the area. At 40% containment and almost everything north and east of highway 71 being burnt the hunting areas are going to be limited quite a bit. Most areas south and west of the road were untouched but will probably see heavy pressure this year do to the limited access.

The smoke has been heavy for the last week but the boys and I made it up high in the timber to find a few ruff grouse. Ruff's are frustrating to hunt. They are usually in the heavy brush and fly with the brush as cover. We busted quite a few that we never got shots at and the only points we had were birds that flew to the trees. I say points, but it's more like hound dogs treeing cats with the high pitched barking as the dogs look up in the trees at the birds taunting them. We did get a couple of birds that made the mistake of flying into the open and once again both dogs got to get a bird to retrieve and were happy with that.

Let's hope for some moisture and cooler weather for the dogs to be able to enjoy the upcoming season.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Woodhead fire

 Just found out today about a fire burning on the Cecil Andrus access property. It's something that some of you from out of state might take a look at. Especially if that's one of your go to locations. 

It started two days ago just before we got some heavy winds. It quickly blew into 28,000 acres. For the most part it's burning north and east of the road leading to Woodhead but has already burned some prime upland bird habitat. I've just seen a preliminary map but it looks like Grade creek and Camp creek are gone. From there it looks like it's heading toward the timber.

It's been breezy all day so I'm sure it's still causing some damage and hard to get a handle on. When I get a better map of the fire I'll try and post it if anyone wants but for now you might keep that in mind as you prepare for the hunting season.

Good Luck.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

We got the Blues

 Well we had a cool morning so we decided to try a short hunt before the next round of doctor visits. This has been time consuming and not our version of a good time but the boys and I are making the best of it. It wasn't a great day for points, in fact we didn't have any. But we bumped a couple of birds and both dogs got a retrieve and seemed happy about that. 

 Wasn't bad for a half mile jaunt. It felt good to be out walking with a gun in hand again and the dogs knew exactly what that meant for them to do. We're looking forward to chukar season and hoping we can get on the hill soon.

Friday, August 28, 2020

My oh My

 The verdict is out for me on this late hatch. I was out working on the pond and Grady showed up with a hun chick that was about a week old. Although it was still alive it became a study bird. I took a short walk and sure enough jumped Mom who pretended to be hurt and watched several more chicks running through the tall grass. I've never seen hun chicks around here let alone that young.

This late of a hatch couldn't have been from the June rains so I am assuming that the nest probably got destroyed by the cutting of the hay. With only three weeks to the opener these chicks and probably many others around the state will be flying but will be obvious not to be full grown. Shoot or not, it's up to you, but I think we'll be seeing more of these young birds than usual.

This isn't in any way a post for changing the season to a later date because I am against that. I am for keeping every day of the season as is and those that don't want to hunt early or late for whatever reason don't need to go. I am only trying to point out what we might be seeing out there early this year. No matter what size of the bird the dogs love to find them and I love watching them try. 

Be ready to go and get em.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Good news to add to Saturdays post.

 Got out this morning for a very short jaunt with the boys in some hun country. Very short because my legs gave out twice making the trip a whole mile round trip. Pretty sad. But the good news is that Grady Jumped two different huns playing the wounded game. Each bird did their thing in keeping Grady chasing and away from what I'm sure was young chicks. Both times I recalled the dogs and moved away from the area. Had the chicks (if they were there) been more than ten days old they would have flushed for short a short distance with the adult bird. I've never seen a chukar or hun fake crippled when there were no chicks so I'm pretty sure they were there which adds more confidence that there are lots of late hatches out there. 

Fingers still crossed.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Where'd the birds go

 I made my mid August scouting trip today and have to admit to being a little disappointed in the number of birds I saw. Don't get too disgruntled yet because I couldn't cover much country by foot but mostly on the roads. As far as chukars go, I saw fewer of them than ever on this route but the few I found were way up high. Once I got on the mountain I was surprised how dry it is. From a distance things look green but most of that green look is skeleton weed which has absolutely no nutritional value. Grass hoppers were everywhere. Although the mountains are very dry there seems to be plenty of water in the seeps for all of the wildlife to have had a good summer. It was very warm today and Jake just held back with the old cripple as Jake covered the mountain side looking for birds. At two years old he seems to have endless energy no matter what the weather.

Three different times he sent young chukars flying past Jake and I and my guess says they were between 6 and 8 weeks old which means they came from successful first hatches.

I never heard chukar talk which could be good or bad. Either there weren't many birds around or they still had young enough birds that they didn't care to announce their presence. I did see plenty of small chukar track on the trails to believe there was birds of about three to four weeks old or less moving around.

I also found feathers of chicks from our upland birds. This one happens to be from a hun.

I saw two covey of huns from the road and captured this small group of what appeared to be all adult birds.

If quail are any indication of what the upland season will be like, start buying more shells. Those little turds are everywhere but won't sit still long enough for me to get any camera action. There size ranges from half grown to just bigger than bumble bees. If the amount of young quail is any indication of chukar populations, there are a lot of young chukars out there that we couldn't find.

It seemed like every time I came around a corner where there was shade there was another group of quail heading for cover.

The turkeys are also a tale-tale sign of this different summer. I saw one group of probably 50 or 60 birds that were about 3/4 grown with only 6 adult birds as far as I could tell and than I came across this group with different size chicks and as many adults as hens. Strange hatches.
So, there is my scouting report for mid August. Not real exciting but as I said, I kind of whimped out and spent too much time on my butt. In my heart I believe there are a lot of late birds this year but don't want to get all excited about something I can't prove but as soon as the doc gets me fixed I hope to get some better videos of what to expect this season.

Friday, July 31, 2020

July update

I wish I could report more, but my recovery has been slow and getting on the hill has been a little tough. I finally did a hike of shortly over two miles on a steep chukar hill today with the dogs and was pleased with what I saw. But not too happy with how bad I hurt afterwords.

To start off with I have been getting lot's of reports from other hunters and for the most part they are positive. They have ranged from typical chick counts of 10 or so per covey to seeing a lot of mature birds already covied up. So, we're still at the glass is half full stage.

This is what I found on our two hour hike today. As you can see I'm pretty slow right now covering about a mile per hour. First off, there were some areas where the skeleton weed has taken over and there was absolutely no reason for any wildlife to be there. There is no nutritional value to this plant, even for cattle. Most of the weed I noticed was on the drive back out and it seemed to go quite a ways up the hill which might explain why I didn't see many birds on the road.

Secondly, the springs are holding more water this year and from what I saw there are plenty seeps up high in the chukar country to hold birds. Those two factors make it very possible for chukars to not be in the normal areas we hunt, but scattered more across the mountain.

Even though it was 88 degrees by the time I got back to my truck from the morning jaunt, I had a couple of points that produced some birds. One covey looked to have about ten 6 to 8 week old birds and the second had only four maybe 4 week old birds. The first covey had two adults with the chicks and the second only one. As I said, it was hot, and the rest of the birds we saw were from flushes. One covey had around ten chicks in it and as they flew over I guessed them to be about 6 weeks old. Another covey Grady bumped far down below me was quite larger with over 25 birds and I believe they were between 4 to 6 weeks old ,but from the distance of about 150 yards I could be wrong. Jake bumped a large chukar with two chicks not over three weeks old. There could have been more birds there but we quickly moved on. One other bird was sent over the top of me chuking as it flew over but I couldn't move quick enough to see it or whether it had any little ones along.

Those were the birds I saw. There might have been more that I didn't see the way Grady was covering the mountain and the lack of scent but we'll never know.

On the way out I saw two huns standing off the road and I went back with the camera hoping to flush the birds with little ones in tow. I captured the flush but it seemed like it might have been 8 to 10 full size birds. I'll look back at the film and see if I can tell. I also saw several pair of quail on the road as well as quail with little ones from bumble bee size to half grown.

I'm hoping to get stronger and have a better post around the 20th of August with some pictures and video's so check back than.

Also be prepared for lots of cheat. I've never seen it as thick as it is this year. I pulled more off my shorthairs than ever before.