Tuesday, January 12, 2010

chukar hunting alone

Please don't read this just so far and then think that I am being arrogant. Read all the way through this, understanding that I'm trying to explain my feelings as well as some others. I know there are plenty of people out there who enjoy group hunts and rightly so.
I decided to post on this subject because I'll bet there are a lot of hunters out there that feel the same way as I do but don't know how to put this to their hunting partners. Also there may be a lot of hunting partners that don't understand why I prefer to hunt alone. I don't want to sound like I don't enjoy people's company because I really do. Hunting pheasants, ducks, quail, deer, elk, and many other animals have been great fun for me and I have usually done so with other hunters by my side.
Chukar hunting can be a little different. It doesn't have to be but can be. I enjoy the company to and from hunting camp and at the camp, but prefer to chase chukar on my own for several reasons. None of these reasons have to be with not liking to hunt chukars with people. I hunt chukars alone for fairness to both me and the other person that might want to hunt with me. First off comes the hunting dog. I let my dog cover as much country as possible where another may want his dog to hunt close. That's not fair for either one of us. If someone else doesn't have a dog and wants to hunt with me that's fine. But he's hunting behind my dogs and I have a certain way that I work with my dogs that makes me successful. I would appreciate it if he would keep up with me or slow down for me, whichever the case, when the dog is on point and approach quietly. That's not fair to my partner and no fun for me to have to ask him to do so. My dogs don't like taking breaks so we usually don't, so I can't or don't want to take the luxury of visiting over the scenery. For me there's nothing like sharing a hunt with my dog and then meeting up with the other hunters back at the truck and swapping stories.
As far as difference in people some of that has already been discussed. We all have different expectations from our dogs. We all hunt different. Some use whistles, some yell, and some use shock treatment. I'm not saying which procedure is right but I can say this can be very confusing for a dog. My dogs do a great job of honoring where another dog may not. That's no fault of the dog but it usually results in the hunter who's dog doesn't honor yelling at his dog or apologizing. There is no need for that, let's just work on it after the season, under controlled circumstance when we don't have to confuse the dogs.
And probably the main reason I don't do a lot of hunting with other folks is because of the pressure I feel it puts on me. I'll bet a lot of other hunters feel this same way. I feel like I have to produce, even though I know that the other person probably doesn't expect the same. It's just inherent in us. We want to show our best side. But when we're alone we have no expectations, just hopes.
This scenario is a prime example of what I am talking about. Jeff and I were hunting behind Tucker and Dakota several years ago. Jeff didn't have a dog yet. We hadn't gone a half mile and up the hill a couple hundred yards were my two dogs and they busted a covey of huns. All we saw were the dogs approaching and the birds take off flying. Another hundred yards and there goes another bunch. I'm feeling a little embarrassed so I call my dogs back and make them work closer. Normally I would have just taken it with a grain of salt knowing my dogs came in with the wind to there back and had no idea the birds were there until to late. They didn't do it on purpose but I was still embarrassed. Those things happen just as much when I hunt alone but I know that over the next ridge may be the next point. Also, Jeff wasn't in the same physical condition as me. It wasn't long before the dogs were on point up hill a couple hundred yards. My job is to get to the dogs when they are on point. They don't understand why Jeff and I are stopping so often on the way up the hill. When we get to them they are confused with my talking to Jeff and telling him how to approach the dogs. After the shooting is over Jeff decides he would rather hunt on his own on the way back to the truck. He doesn't want to admit he likes to slow down a little. Now we both feel a little bad and haven't enjoyed the hunt as much as we could have.
The next year Jeff got his own dog. We trained him together and he became quite a dog. When we went hunting he always wanted to hunt off his own direction. He readily admitted it was a lot more fun this way. He could go at his own pace and could appreciate his own dog. The way I think it should be. So if you're like me, don't put yourself and your friends in this predicament. Explain to them up front, I'm sure you'll both have a much better time.

15 comments:

Kirklan said...

My dogs and I often do our best hunting when alone. I love going at my own pace and just watching my dogs and not saying a word for hours.

Shawn K. Wayment, DVM said...

Luck forward to following your bird dog tails & tales!

Shawn K. Wayment, DVM said...

I too love to hunt alone with my dogs...I totally understand1

larry szurgot said...

Thanks Shawn, I hope I have many more years with bird dogs. It looks like you're a busy man with all your interests. Good luck to you on your bird hunting and fishing in the future.

Shawn K. Wayment, DVM said...

Larry...I know exactly where you're from! I'm from Rupert and have family in Twin, Idaho Falls, Burley, and Paul. I've hunted in your neck of the woods and love to hunt valley quail not to far from Horseshoe Bend! My brother Andy and I like to eat at the Mexican restaurant there in your town!

mike said...

I agree with most of what you said, although I have 2 sons that grew up hunting. Now when I hunt alone the great hunts seem good and good hunts are OK. I believe its the people we are with that make the hunts memorable. For me a good hunt can be truly great if I am hunting with loved ones. When I hunt alone I enjoy the hunt for the challenge and dog work. When I hunt with my children I enjoy the hunt because of them and time spent together. That is probably the difference between even close friends and family.

larry szurgot said...

Mike,
When it comes to family I couldn't agree more. My son and grandson's know there is an open invitation. I blew it when my son was young and pushed a little too hard so he doesn't hunt much anymore but when he does we're always together. My seven year old grandson is an outdoor nut. He's already been on a few hunts with me. When the time comes I'm sure we will be hunting a lot together but for his safety I probably will walk along with a camera.
My family is #1 above all else. Thank you for pointing that out and I wish there were more people that felt that way.

fj790 said...

Heh Larry,
So when are we going hunting? Seriously, I think you're right about chukar hunting being primarily a solitary activity, it fits the remote, stark surroundings. Not to mention the safety concerns associated with multiple hunters trying to get shots on a flush in the steep terrain and uncertain footing.
I have a question if you don't mind. My youngest son and I are planning a hunt over to SW idaho before season end. We were thinking of staying in cambridge and hunting cecil andrus, is this likely as good a bet as any? Don't divulge any of your hard earned secrets but any comments/suggestions are appreciated.
Mike

larry szurgot said...

Mike,
That area is a very good spot. The problem is they may not give out keys to the gated access areas because of the road conditions. I haven't hunted there for over a month but we found plenty of birds when we were there. An area that always treated me good was the draw right behind the store just above the reservoir. It's steep and ankle twisting rocks but has always held birds. Once you get up towards the first set of Power lines side hill around the hills towards Woodhead campground. There are some big draws to encounter but you should see plenty of birds.
The upland idaho group went on a fun hunt to the rocking m ranch yesterday and split up. As far as I know everyone saw plenty of birds but they were very wild. That's the kind of birds you can probably expect this time of year.

fj790 said...

Larry:
Thanks for the guidance, I'm actually familiar with the draw you suggested from a hunt about 8 yrs ago. Back then we found all the birds one could want even hiking right up from the campground. Don't expect to see those numbers this time but it's nice to dream.
I saw your harvest from the upland idaho hunt, you really need to stop being so consistent on account of we're not supposed to become legends 'til after we leave this world, not to mention making the rest of us look bad.
Great job on the blog...
Mike

larry szurgot said...

I appreciate that Mike. I'm not being humble at all when I say it's the dogs. 70 hunting trips a year plus another 30 training and scouting trips together make a great team. I truly just follow my dogs and let them show me where the birds are.

fj790 said...

Larry:
One last thought before I forget then I'll give you some peace. I would like to suggest a topic for you to address when you have some time after the season. The topic is "Health / Medical Technology Advancements" or something to that effect.
I read somewhere that you have an artificial knee replacement. I did not think it was possible to do high stress stuff like hiking up and down chukar mountains with artificial joints. Next thing I'll probably be hearing is artificial knees, hip replacements, robotic arms, etc., no problem. For those of us heading in that direction what's the story here? What is your training regimen?
Best regards,
Mike

larry szurgot said...

Mike,
Thanks again. I do have a knee replacement and my old hunting partner, Jeff Dooms, (Died in a car crash in August) had a hip replacement. It hasn't hindered me at all and it will be a great topic to bring up.

fj790 said...

Larry:
Sure, you're just another above average hunter and the success is all about the "O'Reilly Factor". Obviously Ol' Reilly is a whole lot better in the field than he is on the radio, lol...
Mike

larry szurgot said...

I wish you would have told me about this "O'reilly factor" before I went out today. Riley and I had our first shut out of the year. No shots and no birds. Makes our good days seem even that much better.