Sunday, March 23, 2014

Barb says "No More"

After my outing today, I was looking through the days pictures and was excited to finally get a bird in the picture with Jake. I've been able to get each of my dogs in the past on point on wild birds where you could see the dog on point and the birds still holding. I wasn't sure I got the bird in the pictures until I got home and with enthusiasm I told Barb, "oh boy, come look at this." She pretended to be excited but I definitly got the feeling of "big deal."

Like most chukar hunters, I don't have much smarts. So I need an editor to correct my spelling and punctuations. Barb is mine and when I asked her to edit this blog she said she would,  but after this, no more pictures of Jake on point. People are getting tired of it. So I agreed to quit posting so much unless I have something more exciting to post about. Maybe seeing a bunch of baby chukars this summer might be acceptable.

Anyhow , she gave me the okay for these pictures. I'll keep it short.

We were out scouting for turkey when my Astro said Jake was on point 107 yards away. I located him and could tell by his point that he was making eye contact with a bird and by the area we were in it was probably a grouse. I couldn't see a bird but took the picture.
I looked for a bird but couldn't see it. I moved over behind Jake and zoomed in hoping that maybe I might find the bird. I still couldn't see one but after I got home I finally saw what was keeping Jake so intense.
Still not knowing where the bird was I moved in for the flush and actually snapped a picture quick enough to get both Jake and the grouse at the same time. You can see the grouse wings even though the tree is blocking the body.
I told my editor, "I probably would have got that grouse", and her final response was, "I doubt it."

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Another day on the mountain

Jake and I have been scouring a lot of new country the last two weeks looking for birds. Any kind of game bird that wants to be pointed was fine with us. Thanks to Jake, we had some good luck. He found numerous chukars, huns, quail, and even a turkey to point. Most of the points were pretty darn good but for the third time now I deleted over 50 pictures from my camera and the computer. I have lost over 150 pictures of wildlife and dogs this past year with just one push of a button. Sadly, I don't know which button it was or how I did it. Barb has promised to teach me how to keep this from happening in the future. Trust me, Jake had some impressive stuff the last two weeks.

Today, Jake and I decided to go a little higher and scout out some turkey country and I figured I had better post the pictures before I lose them too. Although you can't hunt turkeys with dogs, I do my scouting with them because it's great exercise for both of us and a dog flushing the birds doesn't hurt your chances for calling them when the season opens. A lot of my turkey areas are also on the edge of chukar habitat, so we usually have a dual purpose to be on the mountain.

We didn't find any chukars or huns today but Jake found a small covey of quail. I tried to get a shot of Jake pointing as the birds flushed but was lucky to catch the back end of two quail as they flew off. I was sure Jake was centered there.
He was deadly on the grouse though. He had two points in the thick stuff, that I couldn't fight my way through without busting the birds. By the sound of them flying and their location I have to assume they were rough grouse. The third bird cooperated a little better. After weaving through the brush I got to Jake and his tree point.
I got another angle
and then took a close up of our feathered friend.
Since the bird was giving me plenty of time, I surveyed the situation as if it were hunting season and realized that if it were hunting season the only way to harvest that bird would have been to shoot it out of the tree. I think I'll stick to chukars and huns.

Although we didn't find any turkeys we did find enough sign to make a return visit. We did however have another exciting observation. Although we never saw this guy, he or she was on the mountain with us. These tracks were made earlier in the day.
My pocket knife is four inches long. The track was four inches wide and five inches long, not making it the largest wolf around, but big enough.
Jake even acted as if he wasn't to pleased about what he was smelling at times. He soon showed me why the wolf had chosen this area to travel.
We checked the area over, trying to surmise what might have happened. It was quite obvious that a wolf had been on the carcass but there was no sign of a struggle. It might have been a winter kill or possibly the wolf took it down earlier. Either way it's what nature produces. One thing that was very obvious is, the wolf was enjoying the spoils.
It seems like every day on the hill with Jake brings a new adventure. Sure wish Riley could have been here to enjoy it with us.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Between spring rains

It's a long time before the chukar opener, but there's still a lot of fun to be had on the mountain this time of the year.  First you have to be able to avoid some of these spring down pours. Being retired makes timing for that a little easier for me and gives me some pretty awesome times up there.

I know Matt Hutt and his PP Jack have been getting out on some training missions, with some success I might add, but most of the hunters haven't put their boots on since January 31st. Most hunters quit quite a while before that because the birds were harder to find. That's alright because there are lot's of other things to do outdoors besides chasing birds. But, what about your dog? Do you sometimes wonder why your dog doesn't find birds except on those years when the bird numbers are up and blame those who keep hunting them when the numbers seem down for taking too many birds? I'm not standing on a soap box right now, just defending the position I took with a good friend of mine over a cup of coffee a few days ago.

Several years back, this friend introduced his brit to chukar hunting. It was the best bird year I have ever seen. He had great success that year and was hooked, so he said. The next year wasn't quite as good and it didn't take long before he decided to kennel his dog while he fished for steelhead. The fish count was high. I understand how sportsmen feel and how many opportunities we have to be outdoors doing something different in Idaho. I just hope that ? understands that people like myself, who dedicates his or her time to one particular activity, aren't being selfish because he didn't see enough birds to keep hunting them. If the bird numbers seem down, it's because of Mother Nature, not the dedicated hunter that relentlessly chases his hounds.

With that being said, today I had another great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with Jake while ? was on his way to Riggins for some fish. What made the day even better, was, a good friend of mine, John Carter, went on a business trip to Chicago and left his GSP, Neka, with me for a few days. As I mentioned, it wasn't raining so we took the opportunity to head up on the hill. Although I have had the good fortune to hunt around Neka, I have never been able to hunt behind her, nor has Jake. So I didn't really know what to expect.

First off, these two dogs spent the whole night last night playing grab ass and again this morning but, as soon as I put the collars on them and hit the mountain they were nothing but serious. To make it worse was after about five minutes Neka busted a small covey of quail, sending her into intense hunting mode and covering the ground like a grey hound. The astro's came in very handy today, having the two dogs three hundred yards to each side of me at times. I knew that was about the far end of Jake's range but wasn't sure about Neka, but was pleased to see her return with a quick whistle from me. From that point I was just interested in honoring from both dogs.

Our first chance came with this precarious point by Jake.
I zoomed back, as Neka approached Jake's point.
 I was a little disappointed as she didn't seem to acknowledge Jake's point and then the bird flushed. If you look hard you can see the bird taking off from the sage above them.
It's hard to know why she didn't back or if she even saw Jake. That's what's so much fun about being out with the dogs hunting and observing them. Trying to figure out what makes it work. Learning experience number one was gone with that pair of chukar.
The great thing about huns and chukars pairing up (every bird we saw today was paired) is that they try to get distance between each others pair. So, instead of finding a covey every half hour or so, you find a pair. It wasn't too long and Jake was caught honoring Neka but the birds flushed while I was moving into position to take the picture. Shortly after that my astro says both dogs on point. I was excited to see what was over the horizon. Neka has it figured out with a great honor.
Both dogs held well to my flush. But, just like with the gun, I was behind with the camera.
Throughout the day I never had another honor by Jake but had a couple by Neka, including a sitting honor.
The dogs put in 38 miles between the two of them and I had five fun filled miles, with points like this one from Neka,
 and this one of Jake.
I try and get in front of my dogs when shooting a gun or camera. Taking my time and trying to be calm helps the dog hold the birds. As I looked back at the series of pictures of Jake on this point I noticed in the background another hobby I like doing this time of the year. Finding sheds. I didn't see this one while I was on the hill but it is obvious in the above picture and this one.
Jake and I have been out at least 8 times since the season end and again with Neka today. Both dogs are laying here pretty tired right now, but with luck we'll be back out somewhere Friday for one last jaunt together before John retrieves Neka. It's such a great time to be out there if the rain allows and it's not harming the birds at all right now. We usually give them a break about the 15th of April to start nesting and laying eggs and hope that Mother Nature cooperates for the next three months. My friend who is up fishing right now might not think I'm doing the right thing, but Jake thinks I'm the best.