Sunday, November 29, 2009

Raising chukars

Raising birds can be very enjoyable and educational as a family project. Here are some pictures of my granddaughter's Emily and Megan with the chukar's they raised this year. They incubated them, watched them hatch, watered and fed, and released them. They even caught insects like grasshoppers to help them get the protein they need.
Although survival rate is minimal in the wild, (3 to 8 per cent), we release most of them at the age of five weeks. The studies say that is the release age that is most effective. Some of the birds are used for training. When training we always try to train in an area where the bird has a chance of survival since most birds aren't shot.
It's amazing how soon the birds can fly. At five to six weeks they can fly quite a distance if they have been in flight pens.
One year I helped a young man, Kelly Dooms, raise pheasants for a school project. Out of 19 rooster's 11 of them survived after release for two month's. Their biggest problem was lack of fear of people. Hunting season came and the pheasants soon disappeared.
I have raised as many as 200 chukar's some year's.
Next year Emily and Megan are wanting to try Bob White quail to raise. We have plenty of habitat around my house here, so it will be interesting to see how they survive.


Monday, November 23, 2009

limits





The importance of getting a limit is different to everyone. Some hunters even impose their own limits based on how they feel the bird populations are. I have to admit I do usually hunt for a limit. I don't always get it but hunting for a limit of birds keeps me in the field longer. If I were to come home after just being satisfied I'd turn around after my first point.
Some say it's just the dog work that's important. I agree. But part of dog work is the retrieve and my dog's love to retrieve. I hunt a lot during the chukar season but I also hunt many different locations. I try to not over hunt any location. If I hunt a place and the numbers are low I just don't hunt that area any more that year, knowing that when I go, my goal is a limit and to spend as much time hunting it takes until we are either successful or too tired to keep going.
Saying that, there have been many times when I've come home empty handed and had just as good a time as those when I came home with a limit. It's just my goal is to get a limit. To me it's no different than a golfer whose goal is to shoot even par.

shooting



A plus to hunting is shooting good. This rarely happens on chukar hunts. It's hard to similate the shots you will be taking.
You are very rarely on flat ground. The birds take off when your body is not square to the target making your swing short. You have to be aware of where your dog's are, especially when hunting multiple dogs. If you're hunting with others you also have to know where they are. Chukar hunting isn't like pheasant hunting where you all line up and push a field.
Down hill shots are my hardest shot. I have a tough time shooting under the bird, even when I tell myself to do so before the flush.
I practice a lot and there are certain shots I make easier than others, so when approaching a pointing dog I try and approach in a manner to force the birds to fly the way I shoot best. In my case it's left to right crossers.
Most practice shooting isn't done on steep chukar hills, but it can be very beneficial. Here, I'm practicing with my good friends, Jeff and Teresa, and my wife, Barbara. Not only is it practice, it's a fun outing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

finding birds



Another hunter commented to me once "how do you always seem to find birds?" My answer was simple. Walk and walk more. In all the years that I can remember I can only think of one time I didn't see at least one bird. On that day, which was last year, Riley and I walked 14 miles and didn't see a bird. We had one false point and that was it. There have been plenty of times where it is hours between finds, but if you are in chukar country and you are wanting to see birds you just keep going. That is one of the beauties of chukar hunting. Understand I said one day without seeing a bird. I have plenty of days when I came home skunked.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

a serious point


Dakota's more than serious about a bird being right here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Conner Tomlinson




My newest and favorite hunting partner and Team Tuckota in November of 2009. Conner is my 7 year old grandson. He helps my dogs keep me in shape.

cougars







Dakota was quite surprised when he was chased by this female lion from the rocks where he was searching for chukars. She is one of many I've seen over the years while chukar hunting. She met with this fate only because of her closeness to Dakota. I was amazed at how lethal one shot of 1 and 1/4 ounce of n0.7and1/2 shot is at close range.

Other animals encountered






















There are so many other animal encounters along the way. These are just a few of them.

springtime
















Other springtime images





spring workouts




Conditioning continues in the spring. There are always great sights and photo opportunities. Here Tucker is pointing a turkey with Dakota honoring. Although she had no little ones with her my dog's are very well whoa trained so that I can walk them away without harassing these springtime momma's. You can see the turkey to the right of Tucker.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

honoring


Nothing better than three dog's on point and honoring.

the old boy


Tucker's final hunt of 2008

winter 2008

Winter 2008. My three amigo's.

winter







Hunting goes on no matter what the weather

retrieving




How fun is it for a dog to retrieve. You should be proud as the alpha dog that he is bringing this trophy to you.

training







I've trained several hunting dogs in my life and helped several others train also. I helped a professional dog trainer for a while in trade with learning some tricks of the trade. The main lesson I came away with was THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GOOD DOG AND A GREAT DOG IS ABOUT 400 BIRDS. Over the years I've found out how true that is.



My training method is simply honing their natural abilities and than getting them out on wild birds as much as possible. Of course that consists of not shooting flushed birds while hunting if you want the dog to be a staunch pointer and all of those other training tips that are pretty comomon sense. But who had to be trained for that? Not the dog.



You've heard the saying "trust your dog." I think that is the most important part of all hunting relationships between man and his dog. Sixteen years ago I was hunting behind my brittany, Rookie. We were hunting Brownlee for chukars but there was an important football game going on at the same time. So I was wearing radio ear phones. Probably not the smartest way to hunt but I ended up learning a lot from that day. Since I wasn't hearing chukars flying or talking, or other people flushing birds my way I had to focus completely on my dog. I got my limit of birds that day because I totally relied on Rookie.



Our dogs are much better predators than us. Trust their senses. You might lead them towards a covey you saw land but as a rule let them find the birds for you and they soon will become bird finding machines.

Jeff Dooms

This is a tribute to Jeff Dooms. Jeff started chukar hunting with me 5 years ago. He went with Team Tuckota and myself twice and decided he needed a chukar dog. His wife bought Cavin as a pup for Christmas and we soon started training. It wasn't long before Team Tuckota, Jeff and myself had another well groomed gsp. Jeff hunted chukars hard for the next four years and he and Cavin were a real team collecting many limits of chukars. Jeff was killed in a head on collision on hwy. 55 Aug. 10, 2009.
Jeff was a great hunting partner, neighbor and friend. More than that he was a great person. Jeff I miss you and hope you're taking care of my past hunting dogs up there.

3 amigos

This was a hunt earlier this year at Brownlee. The three boys were pointing a covey of huns. There is nothing more thrilling to me than to watch good dogs work together. This was probably Tuckers last trip with the younger boys. Tuckers furthest to the left.

Riley

I thought Tucker would be ready to retire 2 years ago so we got a pup from Oklahoma and my grandson named him Riley. I had no idea Tucker had a couple more years in him so when Riley was one I had the same dilema I had when Dakota was one but now I had either three dogs to jockey around or take them all at the same time which is what usually happened. As before it worked out so much better than I expected. All three hunted great together for a year and now Dakota and Riley are a pretty darn good team. Dakota's hips are starting to fail him at 11 years old so he doesn't get as many trips as he used to. About 40 hunting trips a year and another 30 training trips along with our general walks.
Riley is a big dog and covers country like Tucker used to. He is a fireball and will hold birds forever. He retrieves and does everything as well as either of the other two have done and has a goofball of a personality. He's the last dog Tucker will ever get to train.





Monday, November 9, 2009

team tuckota


So this is how we came up with Team Tuckota. Tuck from Tucker and kota from Dakota. At first I hunted the two separately but sometimes there wasn't enough days in the week to get them both out. Plus, I hated seeing the faces when I left one at home
I found that not only did they hunt good together they actually complimented each other. I was amazed at even though they hunted separately how many times I'd find the two of them together pointing the same covey one honoring the other.
Of course there were times when they would be 300 yards apart and locked on separate coveys. I'd have to decide which dog to go to first. When it came to retrieving they never fought over the bird but which ever dog got to it first would get the retrieve. Tucker got smart after a while and would let the youngster run down the steep hill chasing a bird while he went off to point the next covey.
On the good years it was very common to get limits behind Team Tuckota. The question was how many shots it would usually take for me to get eight birds. Wouldn't it be fun to get into a dogs mind and see what he's thinking after all those missed shots.