Thursday, February 19, 2015

Finally

Quite often, others and myself have talked about how tough chukar hunting is and at times it does really push a person past what seems to be enjoyable. But, believe me, it's not much tougher than many of the jobs people take on each day. The difference is, we are working at something we really enjoy. For me, it is being with my dog and watching him do what he loves to do.

I have to admit I'd rather have a shotgun in my hand but, when the weather is like it is right now I choose to be on the mountain with Jake. January was a tough month of hunting with the mud, fog, ice and wind and I wish I could have taken that month off and waited for better weather but hunting seasons don't work like that.

I put these picture together in hopes that you can put yourself in the camera. This is what I get to see on a typical chukar/hun hunt. The only hard thing I did was enjoy the day and follow Jake, who did all the work. I came over the hill and found Jake on this point.
So I backed down the hill and started approaching Jake with hopes that the birds were between us.
I held the camera on Jake and pushed the button at the sound of the flush and finally got the flushing birds in the picture with Jake.
This is the scene I get to see a dozen or so times on a hunt. It is what makes my heart pound at times. It is what pushes me up the hill I would have stopped half way up on if I didn't have a dog. It is why I stop at times in wonder at Jake's point.

No, I'm not any tougher than any other hunter out there and some times I claim to be not to smart for hiking up and down those steep hills but in the end it's truly because of my dogs and the thrills they provide me.
Remember, if you feel like life is tracking you down, get a chukar dog and let him help you put distance between you and ol man Time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Feb.16

Wow! What a month this has been. Probably not good to be as dry as it has been, but it sure has been a great month for hiking the mountains. Jake and I have been getting out quite a bit just to keep as reasonably in shape as we can be. I did all my working out in the gym, running, lifting weights, etc. in my younger years and now enjoy doing the mountains for a workout. Besides, Jake can go with me, thus killing two birds with one stone, which is better than I can do with one shotgun shot.

Like most everyone, I'm concerned about the snow level. I'm not running into any snow at places where there is usually a foot or two of crusted snow. I don't think this has much impact on the chukars as long as April, May, June and July have normal conditions. I've given up on what conditions are best for a good reproduction year. I've guessed wrong more times than I have been right. To be honest, the biologist seem to wrong as many times as right also. I've decided that this year will just be what it is and Jake and I have to except it and make the best out of it.

Take my hike yesterday. We hiked from 3000 feet to 5200 feet. We never encountered any snow. The green up is showing up at the 3000 to 4000 foot level
but above that, the green up is lees obvious.
Of course we chukar hunters know how the birds like to eat the fresh green shoots. Whenever it is available their crops seem to be full of it. Jake and I never found a bird in the greener areas nor did I see any droppings but when we got high on the mountain, about 5000 feet, we started finding birds. What's with that? Either I'm really dumb or chukars are another animal we'll never completely figure out. 

Now that my IQ has been established, I will say that Jake still knows how to use his natural instincts to find birds. He had several finds, although there were no big covey's. In fact, I was surprised at the number of paired birds already. It might have been coincidence but I usually don't see the chukars paired up until March. The huns seem to pair up earlier but I didn't find any of them.
Jake did have one other find besides the chukars. He must have got caught between step. When I got to his point he had one leg up in the air in the stepping position, locked solid.
I followed his eyes to where I figured the bird to be but never saw it until two steps from me flushed this grouse.
February temperatures of mid 50's to low 60's are a great way to spend an afternoon in the hills. I hope everyone is enjoying the last month of winter like we are.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Farewell 2014

Barb, Jake and I are sitting around the house and cleaning our hunting gear for the year. It's a good thing I broke my guns down good. With the amount of grit down in the trigger mechanism's I'm surprised I didn't have some misfires towards the end of the season. My bird vest had a dried up chocolate candy bar that must have been in the bottom of one of the pockets since the beginning of the season. It was a mess. I cleaned up my pocket camera that I use during the hunting season and got my bigger camera out for some spring pictures. This week will be the big task of cleaning out my truck.

The bird numbers in both Oregon and Idaho were fair at best for me and Jake. But, even fair presented plenty of good opportunities for successful hunts. By the amount of birds I saw on the last week of the season, if mother nature is good to us this spring, the bird numbers should vault next year. I saw fewer hunters in the field this year than I can ever remember. Even when chukar hunting wasn't that popular.

My last week in the field was probably my best. Not only because I got birds, but because I got to watch Jake at his best and watch Conner take down some more chukars on the last day of the season. Last year Jake learned how to point and hold chukars and had a pretty darn good year for a first year pup. This year he learned how to find birds. He figured out how to range with the wind and use it to his advantage. He had some pretty lengthy points and discovered I would find him no matter how long it was. Although, I'm sure he didn't enjoy it, he let me take pictures before I flushed the birds. Quite a few times I got the picture, but didn't get a shot.

My last hunt in Oregon was a dandy. We'd been fighting the fog and inversion all week. I drove all the way over there one day just to get turned around because of a wreck on the freeway. I decided to take my four wheeler over there on our last trip so I wouldn't have to tear up the roads and get my truck covered with mud again. I hunted this area in November and found lot's of birds and most of them were still there. Jake was in top form.
The birds were holding extremely good for late January.
It didn't matter which side of the ridge I hunted, the snowy side or the burnt off side, we found cooperative birds.
Some of the covey's were 20 birds or more.
By the time we got back to the ranger, Jake had provided me with some great shooting for my last day of hunting.
I know a lot of people don't care for tail gate pictures, but I'm down right proud of Jake and what he produces. I also don't mind showing what a great dog and some hard work can produce on even these down years.

To make a short story long, I'm now going to expand on my last day hunting. Although Conner did all the shooting, I couldn't have had a better day. I took Conner to a place in Idaho I had discovered a couple of weeks ago. I had had a good day there and there were more than enough birds for a second round. Over the year, Conner has learned how to hunt with Jake. He approaches his points slow and as calmly as possible and Jake let's him move to the front for the shot. I get to sit back and watch to young men doing what they love. I think this was Jake's best picture of the year.
I was really enjoying taking shots of Jake as Conner did the shooting.
Jake found a large covey of quail that helped to entertain Conner with some shooting.
I could go on boring you with more pictures but I think my point has been made. We had a great day and Conner, Jake and I were all smiles.
The last day of the season was Conner's best chukar day and what a day grandpa will remember for the rest of my life. Finishing the season with Jake and Conner. It truly doesn't get any better than this.
Lord, thank you for providing me with such a wonderful life.