Thursday, July 30, 2015

Jake's post: Follow me

                                                                 Follow Me

As the summer days shorten and the temperatures drop, the urge to be on the mountain becomes stronger and stronger. My instinct to find birds is stronger as autumn approaches. My main purpose in life is to lead you to places where the upland birds hang out.

Follow me to places where the leaves are so colorful that it is hard to focus on what we are here for; hunting. What is going on in the rest of the world will be far from your mind as you watch a golden aspen leaf float to the ground and quietly land on the red colored leaf from the same tree. The only sounds you will hear are my paws rustling through the leaves in search of a game bird for you. Somehow finding birds loses it's importance as you gaze at the beautiful colors of autumn mother nature has provided and you realize that you have been in a place similar to this with other partners in the past.

Follow me into the breeze as it blows over the hills of cheat grass, making waves like a gentle ocean. At times, watching the waves of grass becomes an overpowering feeling of calmness and you'll forget the purpose of our mission. Follow me through that calmness and watch me search for the upland birds. Hopefully, you may find me on point as you did with Tucker so many times. Tucker's points seem so long ago, but it was only yesterday. Tucker is still pointing in that ocean of cheat grass and waiting patiently for your arrival.

Follow me, through all the strong scents that accompany the autumn season. The scents of sage brush, bitter brush, and all the different grasses we'll encounter. I'll guide you through the smells in search of our quarry. My nose will filter through all of those wonderful smells until it finds the most wonderful smell of all, chukars. I'll probably find them close to the seep that magically comes from the ground high on the hill. The seep soon becomes a creek that empties into the river where we parked the truck. As I take a break to lap up some water, the sounds of the creek trickling down the hill may take you back to yesterday when Dakota sprawled in some pooling water to cool with a retrieved bird in his mouth. Like Tucker, he's waiting patiently for you to take the bird from his mouth.

Follow me through the rain and snow. I'll take you up the steep rocky slopes and canyons you've been on hundreds of times before. The ones that make you feel so close to heaven. I know you'll be huffing and puffing, but I also know how good you feel about yourself after you have reached the next ridge. I don't know what you are looking for over that next ridge but I know you always find it. Maybe it will be the tall outline of Riley pointing a snow drift in the fog. Under the blanket of snow is a covey of upland birds. Like Tucker and Dakota, Riley doesn't mind being patient and waits for you.

Follow me through all of the splendor God has provided us. Everything looks and smells fresh. The autumn colors are magnificent and the wildlife will be plentiful. There will be plenty of challenging mountains to encounter and the only thing that breaks the silence is mother nature itself. Maybe the call of a chukar or even a rock falling down the canyon after being dislodged by a bighorn sheep. I'll stop to let you listen to the coyotes scolding us for trespassing in their territory and won't question you for packing out the shed horn from a big muley. When we stop and eat a snack I'll patiently wait while you lay on your back and watch the clouds slowly move across the sky. Since we are one, I know where your mind has taken you.
Follow me on the rimrocks of the desert canyons where the hawks and eagles not only fly high above but can also be seen hovering below you. You have to wonder if their screeches are also warning you of trespassing or if they are just screeches to announce this is their kingdom. Having the big birds here makes my job easier. they also help to make the birds hold.

Follow me to these places because you love it as much as I do. I see it in your face when we are chasing upland birds. There is no need of pursuit of peacefullness when you are on the mountain. You are at peace the moment you step from the truck. That is why God gave me to you. We just are, and that is all that matters.

So, follow me in pursuit of upland birds again this year, as you have the past two. It's not only the autumn of the year 2015, it is becoming the autumn of your life. I have several years left to lead you over the terrain and am honored to do so. I hope to guide you through as many memories with me as you have with your other hunting partners and hope to one day be standing by them waiting for you. We'll be waiting patiently in a place where autumn never ends. Until that day comes, follow me and let's make many of our own memories.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Where are they hiding?

After reading some reviews by the Nevada chukar hunters, I have decided that Jake and I aren't looking hard enough. They are reporting many young bird sightings and by the pictures most birds were hatched pretty early this year. Hopefully that holds true in the Owyhees. I don't get down there for any scouting and wait for reports from Greg Allen on those birds.

Even with the cooler weather, upper 80's, Jake and I have to get out early in the mornings to scout. After only two hours on the hill we are usually out of water and heading towards the cooler in the truck. Outside of a covey of chukar/hun flushing in front of a fire, I haven't seen a baby chukar yet. We are seeing singles and a few doubles but no covey rise of little ones. Maybe that is why the Fish and Game always did their helicopter counts late in August or early September.

Still, even though Jake seems to be getting a little bored, we enjoy getting up early and hitting the hills. We seem to be able to find lot's of other babies
and have a mixed review of how well the early hatch has been. We found these two hens with only eight half grown infants
and a little later found this hen with only two young ones.
In the past, my records show around eight chicks per hen this time of the year. Three birds is not enough to make a good evaluation but it will be interesting to see what a summer like this one does to the bird populations. It was a super warm June with nine continuous days in late June and early July over 100 degrees followed by several days of thunder storms and moderate temperatures.

Walking the hills, it seems to be perfect for the birds, still some green areas and loads of insects, especially grass hoppers. I'm seeing more young quail than I recall seeing this early in the past.
Like the turkey's, the chick numbers don't seem high enough per group. I did see a group of little ones, about the size of my thumb scurrying into the brush with ma and pa that numbered over a dozen. They couldn't have been much older than a day or two. I didn't have time to snap a picture but the next group of babies, quite a bit older, seemed to be challenging me to stay on my side of the fence
while papa stood proudly watching his kids show their stuff.
So, as you can see, there is some positive news out there. If the quail and turkeys have done okay it only makes since that the chukars have had about the same success with more little ones on the way. Jake and I are still feeling positive and know that things are just going to get better. If nothing else, we are getting entertained on our summer outings. As we were heading back to the truck, Jake had one of his deer or cow points. One of those points that isn't staunch enough to be a bird but still let's you know there is something not bird related ahead. Expecting a cow, as I approached Jake, I was pleasingly surprised to see this bear cub thirty yards away eating grass,
and even more tickled when his sibling showed up.
We got a few pictures before we heard this jaw popping noise and mother appeared out of the heavier brush to hustle her cubs away.
I don't know whether she saw us or smelled us, but she made it obvious that she knew we were there with this final look back at us to let us know we were trespassing on her area.
As you can see, there are plenty of little ones out there to photograph, just not the ones I'm searching for.Not YET that is. More to follow in the coming month.