Monday, September 26, 2011

Our last grouse hunt

The weather has been treacherous the last week. We hit a high of 101 degrees Saturday which eclipsed the old record by 7 degrees. It was a day that I enjoyed watching football from the couch. I had made up my mind that I would back off for a week and wait for some cooler temperatures. It was a short week of waiting. Two days to be exact. I woke up to a 40 degree morning.
I hustled the dogs into the truck which is always loaded for these type of emergency outings. There was a place I haven't been to in two years and it was calling for me and the boys to come visit. Being only about thirty miles from home and most of the miles paved I was there before dawn. I finished my coffee and the dogs and I headed down the old abandoned logging road.
I picked this spot because I knew it would be easier on Dakota who's hips are shot. He even got stuck crossing over logs twice today and waited patiently for me to come help him out. The old boy doesn't get off the trails much but he enjoys the outings just the same.
We found enough obliging grouse to have a good day and Riley actually held a few on point on the ground. Our last bird was a rough that held in the shoulder high brush as Riley pointed it.
I didn't pack the camera today and of course I had several decent opportunities. One was a calf elk. The boys were on point and as I moved in I could tell by their posture it wasn't a bird. Thinking the worst (skunk or porcupine) I whispered for them to whoa and crept in. On the other side of the brush was this calf elk that was as interested in us as we were of it. The calf (probably born in June) was alone and by the way it acted I'm sure we were the first dogs and human this elk had encountered.
The other good sighting was two hen turkeys with somewhere around  15 young ones. They were very small for this time of the year, about half the hen size.
I even heard a Tom gobble three different times, which is the first time I've ever heard one in the fall.
It was a great last grouse hunt for the year and it was especially nice to get Dakota out. It was 40 degrees when we started and 60 degrees when we got back to the truck two and a half hours later. 60 degrees is warm for the dogs when there is no clouds in the sky. They were starting to seek out shade trees.
The temps are back on the rise through the chukar opener in five days. It's supposed to be in the upper 80's on Saturday and then drop to the upper 70's on Sunday which will be when you find Riley and I up on the hill chasing our favorite bird.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Got the Blues

The last few grouse trips I took on the blues, so today I decided to try some rough grouse territory. Karl, the ramrod of Upland Idaho, keeps telling me how fun they are to hunt. So, Riley and I took a drive to find a good looking rough grouse area. We happened to find an Access Yes property that seemed to fit our needs.

It wasn't long before Riley was in the deep brush and not moving. As I tried to move in, I could hear birds taking off but was not able to see them. I would then hear Riley moving through the brush again. So I assumed he was pointing the birds that flushed. This happened at least a dozen times within the first hour of hunting. Finally, I heard a bird flush and could tell it didn't fly far. As I moved around to the opposite side of the brush I found Riley looking up in a tree. Sure enough there was a rough looking down at us. Not wanting to take a bird this way I threw a stick at it and it flushed down the draw.

This scenario happened several times over the next three hours. I finally decided that if I could get a shot at a rough as it flushed from the heavy underbrush and I THOUGHT Riley was on point that was the only way I was going to get a rough. I shot the next three roughs that exploded from the thickets and a little later plastered a tree with 7 1/2 shot as the grouse used it for flight cover.

After about three hours of this I decided to move to more familiar terrain in which I could see farther than 20 yards. With my shirt torn and a few new scratches on my face I hunted the sage area next to the timber on my way back to the truck. I was rewarded with a flush of three blues. I picked out one and dropped it. Riley was quick to retrieve the bird. Whether he pointed the birds before the flush or not I'll never know. At this point I was just figuring that hunting grouse was different rules than hunting chukars and huns in the open country.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sept. 18

The weather made a good change this week. A cool front came through and brought some moisture with it. The kind of weather that insists that I make a trip to the hills. I've injured my right shoulder and can't lift my arm above my head but it still will come up high enough to shoulder the gun on my left arm which is good since I shoot left handed.
I hunted blues for two days, one with Riley and the second with both Riley and Dakota. I decided to hunt an area where I usually hunt chukars and find some blues in between coveys of chukars. The blues were there but not in the numbers that I have found in the past. In fact I was a little disappointed in the amount of chukars seen. But I know I could go back to the same places in a week and there might be birds all over the place.

I was hoping to get a picture of Dakota on point but it didn't happen. His range has shortened considerable and Riley got all the action. The blues we did find held great and are going to provide a great dinner for Barb and I. Tom, I even put a couple in the freezer for you when you get back. I know how you enjoy a good grouse meal. The weather is supposed to heat up. If it does I'll probably just do some exercise hiking and give my shoulder a break until chukar opens in 12 days. Be safe.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Miles with Riles Sept. 9

Well my oversea friends. I finally made my first hunting trip of the season. Jeff, you'll be able to recognize the area from the pictures. It's the old log landing. I've been holding off for a cooler and hopefully damp day but it doesn't  look like it's coming for a while so I decided to take off early this morning and give it a go.

Dakota, Riley and I took off early this morning in hopes of maybe hearing a few bugles before we started hunting. One bull obliged us and answered our bugles three times. It was obvious he was happy where he was at and if I wanted to see him I would have to go to him. My archery days are over and I was just happy to hear his bugle.
Shortly after the sun came up a young red fox crossed our paths. As you can see there is a fire somewhere and the smoke is settling in. I heard there was a fire in Oregon that might be causing the smoky skies. Shortly after spotting the fox, Riley jumped a doe and fawn and hurried back to hide behind me. He's my 88 pound chicken when it comes to big game.

Our first blue came off the sage brush tops. There seemed to be a sufficient amount of blues in small groups but the scenting conditions were poor and Riley wasn't holding until he was right on top of the birds. Luckily some were holding tight enough for some five foot points. By the time we found the birds Dakota was tired and happy just to stroll along with us.
We hunted the top a little longer and took a couple more blues before heading for the deeper draws in hope for a rough grouse. It was a good decision because I had depleted the dog water and we needed to find some water. When we found the water we also found the roughs. The problem with those darn birds is they like the thick cover. They either flew through the thick underbrush or flew straight up in a tree and stared at us. Needless to say, we didn't get a rough. We did, however, spook a bear out of the thick stuff.


Although it's much better than what you guys are doing right now, it's a little early to get real excited. The dust and hot weather is tough on both the dogs and myself. Last week I had Riley at the vets getting a piece of cheat from his throat. Today he and Dakota were doing a lot of sneezing. I probably won't be out much until we get some moisture to knock down some of this dust but I'll keep you posted.

I hope the pictures I posted keep your hearts close to home. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Miles with Riles

I've had a couple friends who are over sea and asked me to keep them posted on the chukar hunting. Hopefully, this blog will help keep them excited to get back to the states and some great bird hunting. Barb suggested I call this hunting year "Miles with Riles".
With Dakota's hips giving out, I have retired him to milder hunts on flatter land. I might even take a few quail trips for his thirteenth season. Quail aren't my bird of choice, but Dakota deserves to be kept active as long as he can.
My 88 pound GSP, Riley will be the solo star on our chukar hunts. I hope my weekly hunting blogs will keep you guys entertained while you guys are keeping us safe.