Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A grand day

Yesterday my son in law (Nick) and grandson came to watch me and Riley play. What a great treat. Nick was the photographer so I don't have any pics of him, but here is one of several series of pictures he took.
Conner and I moving in on Riley's point.
They both dropped right over that hill. I rarely get doubles with an audience.

Hanging out while Riley makes the retrieve.
After Riley retrieves the first bird, Conner goes down to help him find number two. It's around here some place.


Conner, you're pointing me in the wrong direction. It's right here.

Here Riley, let me pack this one.
Hey, Opa, this one is pretty big.

What a grand day for grandpa. (Opa)
At the end of the day Riley and Conner get some rest for tomorrow.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Perfect day

I've had a lot of great days in the past but never with both the camera and the shotgun. I'll let the camera do the talking for me.
The country
Bird #1

#2

#3

#4

#5

#6

#7

#8

The grand total

Monday, December 19, 2011

Early Christmas present

Wow! Christmas started for me a week early. It all started yesterday afternoon when John and Deb Carter stopped by for a visit and also to deliver a present for Riley. In order for you to understand how special this artwork is you have to know the story.

I met John and Deb, along with John's father at Woodhead camp ground. I immediately took a liking to Jon's family and friends.We were all there for chukar hunting and after an evening of tall stories we decided to hunt together the following day. Neka wasn't even a year old at the time and John was quizzing me on training techniques. I explained to him that Riley was my trainer and hopefully he might show us a trick or two the following day.

So the following morning we headed off on the hill. Jon with Taffy, John and Deb with Neka and Riley and me. We started together but were soon in separate draws. After a while I saw Neka covering the hill at a distance and thought I'd venture over to John and Deb to see how it was going.  I can't remember how the shooting was, but Deb had got some good shots of Neka and John with the camera.

We took a quick break talking dogs and were about to get back to hunting when we saw Riley on point.He had been locked up on some birds while we were visiting. So John moved in on the point while Deb took some pictures. She took this great picture of Riley and John made the flush. Riley got to do me proud.
Now Neka is two and hunts like a veteran. She is making a fine mentor for John. What a great gift.

Gift number two came on the hill today. Riley and I were chukar hunting in an area that we knew had bighorns this time of the year so I packed a camera. Shortly up the trail we had this guy blocking our way.
He soon gave us passage and up the hill we went. I heard several loud knocking sounds and although I"ve never heard it before, I was sure it was the sound of Bighorns butting heads. This was going to be a special day. As I came through the sagebrush I heard two rams butting heads but couldn't see them. I looked up the hill just in time to see these two preparing for battle.

Ten seconds later these two joined in.

And then this guy was on the charge for a ram out of the picture.
While I was moving through the brush Riley came sprinting past me. I didn't wee it happen but I think this guy charged him. All I got was this picture of him trotting off from twenty yards.
I didn't know the rut lasted this long for sheep. Maybe it doesn't normally but this ewe didn't know that. In the next fifteen minutes wherever she went, the big boys followed. I took many more random pictures until I was too cold to stay. I was dressed for chukar hunting not sheep watching.
If this is the beginning of my 12 days of Christmas I can't wait for what's next. Thank you so much for yesterday John and Deb and thank you for today God.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Shooting

I'm probably not the best person to give advice on shooting, but after a frustrating day for a fellow hunter I thought I might mention what works for me.

Tom and I went our separate ways about 9 this morning,  as we often do when chukar hunting. It was a calm clear day and you could hear the report of shotgun from a great distant. Tom heard me shoot several times and I also heard his shooting. Four and a half hours later we met back at the truck. I could tell Tom had a frustrating day when he said, "I hope you shot better than me today."  I had an extremely good shooting day for me and Tom asked how I do it.

First off, I have to admit to not shooting well all the time. In fact, in all honesty, I shoot about 65 % when it comes to shooting chukars and huns. But there are many things a guy can do to improve success on shooting the devil bird. I have shot clays with Tom, so I know he is very capable of shooting well. His gun fits and all the basics are there. I just don't think he plans for success.

I could go on and on telling you what I do that works for me, but I think it's more important that you find what works for you. It's not as simple as "Wow my dog is on point, I'll walk up there and shoot the bird!" If you're going to be a successful bird shot there are variables that can improve your percentage. They are all simple things, but when added together they can make a huge difference in your game bag at the end of the day.

Knowing your dog and how he will react at the shot is a must. If you're looking out for your dog, you're not concentrating on the bird. Safety is a must and your dog is far more important than any bird so this involves training as well as common sense. Try and move in on the point in a way that takes a hazardous shot out of the equation. Have in your mind where the no shot zone is and stick to it. When the bird is out of that zone it's a green light and the only thing on your mind is to swing through the target as you shoot.

How do you shoot best?  Is it a left to right crosser, a right to left crosser, straight away, or what? You need to know which shot you shoot best and try and position yourself for that shot. I know this is not always possible, but when it happens your mind is already saying dead bird on this one.

I'll bet most everyone shoots singles better than covey flushes. You have to shoot the first bird before you can get a second so concentrate on a single bird and shoot it. Another big flaw in shooting is changing from one bird to another. Very seldom is that a good idea because there is too much gun movement. Pick a bird and stay with it and more often than not it will drop out of the sky.

Age. I almost hate to add this into the equation but I have to. I have noticed the last few years that I have lost some of my speed and agility and there is nothing I can do about it. So I just slow myself down a little more and usually only get one shot off. It works for me.

Chokes, gauges, fit of clothes, hunting into the sun, windy conditions, and many other variables influence shooting in hunting situations. The thing you have to do is find out what works for you. When you find those things, go in with confidence that you are going to make the shot. It's like anything else in life, you have to PLAN FOR SUCCESS.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

six days in the wind

I went over to Oregon last week and spent six days chasing chukars. The only sad thing of the whole trip was having to come home and take a few days off. Riley needed a break from me. He got tired of watching birds fly away.

The first three days I was joined by Greg Munther of Missoula Montana and his GSP Lucy. Greg is 68 years old but has a 30 year old gait going up hills. We hunted in different directions so we saw very little of each other on the hill. What I did see  is that they are a great pair on the hill and always have some great stories back at camp. All three days were windy with the first day being extremely windy.
Two of the first three days Greg Allen, my chukar hunting partner for the last 25 years, also hunted along with us. Greg is a hard chukar hunter and always finds birds to shoot. But the second day he brought one of his older girls over and had  specially good day. As you can see in this picture, Nikki is aging some and she has one bad leg so going 8 for 8 is quite an accomplishment.
The last two days Jon Carter and his son, John and daughter in law, Debbie joined Barb and I at the camp ground. The Carter clan always brings fun and excitement to the camp and hill. I didn't get any pictures but believe me when I tell you I saw some great bird work from Taffy, Jon's dog and Neka, who belongs to John and Debbie. The last day the Carter's even convinced Barbara to tag along. It wasn't long before Barbare was charging up the hill.

If Barbara was coming, we couldn't leave Dakota behind. This is his 13th hunting season and he has been retired but today he forgot that. It was a thrill to see the old boy on two great points and a retrieve. He soon forgot about his old bones and was covering some pretty good country. Once again, where is the camera when you need it?

Also, on day five a gentleman from Washington joined us at camp. Brian Vonderfecht, camped with us Friday night with some great tales of his setter and chukar hunts of the past. His setter couldn't make this trip because of her age so he hunted with me Saturday morning until we got separated. He even got to shoot a chukar off one of Riley's points.

Every once in a while you run into something different on the hill that gives you a little different perspective. Luckily this particular day I had the camera with me. I saw this guy laying in a valley out of the wind. He watched Riley and I hunting around him and just lay there hoping we wouldn't come any closer. Looking at his face I could see the look of an old man who had little energy for flight. We gave him his space and wished him a kind winter. I'll bet he could have told me some great hunting stories.