Tuesday, March 31, 2015

It's almost that time again.

Yep, the weather is warming up quickly this year. It was in the mid 70's yesterday while Jake and I were out strolling. A friend of mine, Ed Bird, has a new Brittany and I understand he's in the training process. I know Ed reads this blog occasionally and this next picture will ruin him on training with wild birds for the rest of this year. He hates snakes. Although I prefer not to be surprised by them, I am confident enough with Jake's avoidance training that we still will keep doing our thing on the hill. I hope I didn't just put the jinx on us.

Right now most snakes are just emerging from the dens for short intervals to sun themselves and aren't moving too far away. If a guy stays away from those likely rock piles this time of the year, he'll probably never see one. But by June they'll be traveling and encounters will become more common and the snakes will be more aggressive than now. A good thing to avoid this time of the year when it is pretty warm is to let your dog chase rock chuck's and similar critters. Snakes like to den in the same type area that the rock chucks like. This rattler was a monster. The one looking at the lens is a normal sized snake. It's easy to see why they call them diamond heads.
My second encounter was with a little smaller snake. I'm not sure, but I think there were two snakes here also. After looking at the picture, I don't think the rattle and the snake belong together. Both places were southwest facing rocks with plenty of sun hitting the rocks all day.

The other common spring encounter is ticks. I'm tickled (get the pun) to report only finding one so far this year. It was on Conner and I understand he took one home also. His mom made the report back to me. Obviously, she wasn't excited to see one crawling up the wall where Conner had left his backpack. Jake hasn't had any on him that I could find. Usually by this time of the year I have pulled several dozens from the dogs although very few are embedded.

In my opinion, neither are worth keeping out of the mountains for, but are just worth being aware of. Just try and be aware of snaky looking areas and try and avoid them if possible and check your mutt for ticks the same as you do for cheat and cuts at the end of each trip and all well be well. Trust me, Ed.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Fun time of the year. Even for elk.

Jake and I took a hike yesterday. We did find a few paired up birds and got to work on a little training,
but two rag horn bulls stole the show from Jake. I'm not sure whether they call them rag horns because of their coats this time of year or their antlers. When I came over a ridge this bull was running about 30 yards away. I was in the wide open and the wind was at my back so I was sure he was running from me.
I took my camera out of my pocket and as I snapped this picture I saw Jake running about 20 yards ahead of the bull. I realized the bull was chasing, or at least interested in Jake. I tried hard to get both Jake and the elk in the same shot but Jake knew how to keep his distance. The whole time this was going on, probably 2 to 3 minutes, the bulls partner just fed at about 30 yards away.
At one time, the bull that was excited about Jake, started stomping it's foot trying to get Jake to come out from the other side of the brush above him.
Finally, Jake ran down the hill in search of smaller game and the bulls decided to leave also. Before they went over the hill they stopped and gave me a stare. They seemed to be saying, "we knew you were there the whole time, but watching that brown dog run around was a lot more fun than running from you."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Beauty is the Beast

Every sports enthusiast have special moments that they relish. It doesn't matter what the sport is, there are certain times when we are amazed at what we just saw. It might be the fantastic one handed grab while tip toeing the sideline on a football field. Even arena fight fans might see some beauty in the fantastic move that almost broke a guys arm. Fly fisherman often talk about the beauty of seeing a fish take the fly, while the elk hunter dreams of the bugle as he watches the breath flow from the elk's mouth in the cool morning air. A baseball fan might be amazed at the ease of an infielder scarfing up the ball and firing it to first base while a bird watcher is in awe watching an eagle soar without even beating his wings.

I'm a very lucky man. I've got to hike the mountains quite often with my dogs. There is only Jake now, but I can close my eyes and see the grace that each of my dogs have had covering the hills. I've watched in amazement as they cover the mountain side, never missing a stride. How they can maneuver through the rocks and brush so quickly is much like a pro athlete doing their thing. The whole time they are running their nostrils are working the air for that special scent and when it strikes they are immediately in a different mode. The stalking mode. Sometimes they don't even have time to move. They just freeze on point because the scent is right there. They may be in such an awkward position that they look uncomfortable, but they don't move. Other times they spin at the scent and slowly pin point the location of the bird.

All this time they are having a ball doing what they love. They very seldom stop and are constantly aware of where I am even while changing directions constantly searching for the birds. Today I kept my camera in my pocket and just enjoyed watching Jake. I've always thought it was beautiful watching chukar dogs maneuver the mountains and obstacles on the chukar mountain but today seemed even a little more impressive. Even though we weren't carrying a gun, Jake seemed to be enjoying our jaunt to it's fullest. When he'd slow down to look for me it almost looked like he had a grin on his face. I just followed along and honored his points realizing the beauty of all the actions just to get to this spot.

As we approached the truck, Jake stopped and looked down towards the rig with a smile. It was like he was thinking the same thing as I was, "what a great time we just had". That beautiful beast of mine looked just as good right there as he did when we started his 18 mile route. I had to take my camera out.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Upland Idaho

Jake has come down with some kind of a bug so I decided today would be a good day to catch up on some of my domestic chores. Early this morning I ran through the internet checking on many of the chukar sites and was disappointed to see that the Upland Idaho site is going down. Karl had one of the better sites to keep upland bird hunters communicating.

If you're still reading my blog, I'm sorry to see you go Karl and thanks for the great site you provided. I wish I had the resources to moderate such a site because it was very interesting to get different takes on many different topics. My blog, as most blogs are, is pretty much about me and my dogs and there isn't a lot said about others exploits. Maybe one day I'll get it figured out how to create such a great site. My blog is so prehistoric that I still have to move any responses from my email to the blog and some times I'm not at my computer for a week or so.

It is what it is, but I'm going to miss Upland Idaho. Meanwhile, Jake and I will keep on trying to let you all know what we're finding out there. It may not always be much, but it's everything to us.

Take Sunday, for example. Conner and I spent a day on the hill with Jake. We didn't find a lot of birds, but the huns and chukars we found were already paired up and they gave Conner a great chance to work on flushing the birds that Jake would point.
The camera actually centered one of the birds for a change.
My biggest surprise was how many blues we saw. I hunted this area early last year and found very few blue grouse but by the number of birds Conner and I saw, Jake and I must have been daydreaming during the hunting season.
The camera wasn't fast enough to center this one.
Have a good spring.