Thursday, August 25, 2016

Chukar/hun report

I finally found some cool mornings to get out looking for chukars. Although the mornings were a lot cooler than it has been lately, there was still no dew or moisture for good scenting conditions. In fact, it's almost like there is a layer of dust on everything. After hiking each day I felt like I had a dry crust in my nasal cavity so you can imagine what Jake was feeling.

That was the bad. Now for the good. Day 1 had Jake and I at a favorite chukar spot. We didn't see the number of birds we hoped for but I feel we saw only a small part of what was probably out there. Several times Jake got real birdie but came up blank and several times he didn't even smell the birds until he was right on top of them. I flushed as many birds as Jake which shows how poor the conditions were for finding birds. Our finds were Covey #1-One mature chukar and 7 chicks about 3 to 4 weeks old, #2-14 fully grown huns, #3 & 4-about 15 chukars in each group and all birds were almost fully matured, #5-2 adult birds with about 8 six week old birds, #6-7 fully grown huns, #7-2 adult chukars with about 10 six week old chicks. To top it off, we found 3 mature blues up high in the buck brush. We were on the hill for 3 hours and I covered 4 1/2 miles while Jake covered 12 1/2 miles.

Day 2 was also a favorite location. Conditions were similar to the day before. We had 6 covey finds. One covey was a large group of huns. I guess about 25 birds. The other covey's were chukars and ranged from 4 birds to about 20 in one group. Our elevation was a little lower than day 1.

Day 3 found me checking out an old hun spot. It's a spot that a gentleman from Tennessee has asked me about and I figured Jake and I would take a jaunt out there. I'm sure he'll be tickled to know the birds seem to have done well there this year. Although Jake and I jumped only two covey's in our short walk, we saw 4 more covey while driving into and out of the area. I would guess there was an average of about 15 birds per covey and all seemed to be approaching adult size.

Although I believe the rating might be a little higher, I give both chukar and huns a 4 star rating. When the weather cools and moisture comes there are going to be plenty of birds out there to keep us entertained through the end of the season but I still don't think there are the birds yet to relate to the 2010 season.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Inspiration

Yesterday, Barb and I went to a triathlon our granddaughter, Emily was competing in. They had the Olympic event (1mile swim, 24 mile bike and 6.2 mile run) and a sprint event (500 meter swim 12 mile bike and 3 mile run).Emily competed in the Olympic event and won her age group. I was amazed at the 400 plus competitors that competed in the 90 degree plus temperatures.  

While waiting for her to cross the finish line, a chant started from the spectators and I realized they were chanting for a gentleman approaching the finish line. He was finishing the sprint course and finished with a time of 2 hours and 30 something minutes. What was impressive was the gentleman was 90 years old. After the event was over he sat at a picnic table, joking and laughing with the rest of the crowd. If I could have even finished the course I would have been laying under a mister sipping some kind of beverage. There were a few other's between 70 and 75 years old but this guy was amazing.

It seems like there is always someone out there that inspires us in every sport. He made me hope I could be like him and still chasing chukars at 90 years of age. There are a few guys here in Idaho that impress me by still chasing the chukar into their 70's. Dave in Washington is also still chasing chukar's with gusto in his 70's.

And than there is Greg Munther in Montana. We have chased the devil bird a few times together but what he does that impresses me more than anything, is he chases big game animals with a long bow and is now 72. A few years back, he got a ram in Montana with his long bow and last year he spent the season trying to get a ram in Wyoming while avoiding Grizzlies alomost every day. This year Greg is going to put his pack on his back and do another self guided hunt in Montana. He'll be chasing the rocky mountain goat.

Good luck to you Greg, and you, like the triathlon man, keep chasing your dreams while the rest of chase after you.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

yesterday continued

Jake and I took the long ride over to I forgot drainage for some early morning chukar scouting. It was good we got off early because it warmed up a lot faster today than yesterday.

Be careful out there with your canine partner on these hot days. You can do irreparable damage to a dog by overheating them. Watch them carefully and pack plenty of water.

We hiked for two hours and covered about three miles with disappointing chukar finds. I'm not going negative on you but just pointing out our findings. Jake never got over 100 yards from me and was usually within 50 yards which could be part of our problem. The heat was a big problem.

The day started out like yesterday. Five minutes from the truck and we flushed a covey of huns. There were about twenty birds and all seemed fully grown. That was a good sign because last year we didn't see a hun in this area. Further along I could see what I thought was a chukar standing on the rock's above me. My bino's revealed it to be a bull quail with about 15 little ones huddled together watching Jake and I hiking the hill. I'd never seen a quail up in this area before. Shortly after that I saw a chukar round the trail in front of us. Jake never caught scent but when I caught up to the bird he flushed with his mate and five half grown chukars. A little later, Jake put his nose close to the ground and made some quick five second points before relocating. I was sure he was on the scent of chukars when a quail flushed out in front of him and then about forty more flushed above us. They were different sizes so probably several covey's combined. Once again, a place I've never seen quail before. Finally, we found covey number 2 of chukar. Jake walked right into 7 more chukar's with only two full size birds.

It wasn't the hike I had hoped for, but I'm optimistic about the probabilities that we were just missing them today. Everywhere you step are grasshopper's by the dozen's so there is no need to congregate for food. The only thing I found disheartening was only 5 chicks in both covey's of chukar was fewer than I had expected.

As we started driving the mountain road back towards the pavement I saw two larger covey's of either huns or chukars diving off the hill far in front of us. That lifted my spirits some. Jake couldn't care less. He was just happy to be in the shade of the truck.

Chukar and Hun rating's are still? but Quail moved to five star's plus.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

partial upland forecast

I wish I could give my findings and predictions on all of the upland birds but I have to admit to being a little shorter on time this summer. Over the last week I've been getting out more and have been very pleased with results.

Last week on a camping outing I left my camera on a log while out hiking so I don't have any pictures to confirm my sightings. I hope whoever finds it enjoys my pictures of deer, elk and Sandhill Cranes.

I'll post my findings with Conner and Jake today and let you decide whether it sounds good or bad. We got up early this morning and headed for a popular upland destination for many upland hunters and after dodging a few big game animals in the head lights the sun rise showed us several covey of quail rushing off the road. It looked like most covey's had 10 or so half grown babies in them. We even saw one hen turkey with 8 big chicks with her. Conner and I decided to drive to the top and hike down, checking out of few springs. Shortly before we got to our location, Conner saw a grouse fly off the road so we decided to start our hike there and let Jake work the bird. It wasn't long and Jake was locked in. As we approached three rough's took off from the tree's and than a fourth from in front of Jake as he broke. As we started further down the hill several more birds flushed from the tree's but we didn't get a visual to get a count. As we joked with each other as to how many times we would have missed, had we been hunting, my astro  showed Jake on point again. He was deep in the brush and we figured there were more rough grouse in there when well over 30 quail started flying everywhere around us. It seemed like it went on forever as Jake pushed through the brush looking for more.

Heck, we weren't 15 minutes into our hike and had already seen plenty of birds, but not the important one. A short time later Jake bumped a blue which was followed by two straggler's. Off in the distance we could hear some chukars but had already decided on another route. The next group of tree's produced even more blues. We saw at least 4 but heard even more. Conner and I decided at that point that we would be back at this spot for a chukar warm up on some grouse. A little further down the hill a covey of chukar flushed wild about 100 yards away. We estimated about 15 birds with all the bird looking close to the same size. Jake's next point was on a solo blue surrounded by about 10 quail. As we moved down below the tree line we finally got a chukar point but was a little surprised when the pair of birds flushed with only three half grown chukars in tow. We heard some more chukars off in the distance but Jake was getting tired and had drank more than half of his water so it was time to head back up. We busted one more covey of chukar with only 6 or 8 birds before we got higher on the mountain where we found a few more blues scattered about. After three hours of walking we hit the brushy logging road and headed towards the truck. Jake was worn out but not too worn out to suddenly stop with a hind leg point. I could see two rough grouse under a tree about 20 yards ahead of him. As Conner moved in front of Jake, the birds started flushing. We counted at least a dozen birds taking off randomly and there was a mixture of both rough and blues. There were even some birds that we heard but couldn't see. Someone with a five shot auto would have easily emptied his gun.

We saw a few more quail covey's on the way out but were still in awe at how many grouse we had seen today. I'm not a big grouse hunter, but I know I saw more grouse today than I have seen in most hunting season's. So for you grouse enthusiast's, I'd give the grouse season a five out of five, and think there is lot's to be excited about. Quail would also get a five, but I always seem to see lot's of quail on this trip.

As far as the chukar I can't give an opinion yet because I haven't been in chukar country as much as usual. Tomorrow morning is supposed to be cool again before the next heat wave and Jake and are planning a trip to a chukar mountain. Hopefully will see numbers showing a successful hatch with lot's of birds. More to come.