Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What just happened?

Just like in many other things in life, just when you think you have it figured out something comes out and bites you in the butt. That's how my hunt went today.

It was raining a little, but not hard enough to keep Jake and I off the mountain. There was barely a breeze out but the way Jake took off covering the mountain I knew it wouldn't be long before he found some chukars. About 1/2 hour into the hunt I watched him get a little birdy up the mountain and headed that way anticipating a point shortly. Suddenly five birds flushed from the sage Jake had just walked past. Like has happened maybe too often in the past I decided to shoot one of the chukars. As Jake raced down the hill and made the retrieve I watched several other birds fly from further up the hill and circle the ridge.

Heading that way and anticipating some good dog work and shooting I was excited about having this kind of action so early in the hunt. That anticipation shortly turned into "what the heck is going on here?" As Jake disappeared over the ridge birds started flying over my head in groups of one to 10. Behind them would be Jake looking down at me like, "hey did you see those? . By the time I reached his elevation he was hustling through the cheat with his nose to the ground making sure he hadn't missed any. He had, and as he ran right into it, the chukar flew right over my head as if it knew I wasn't going to shoot. Jake didn't even try and point.

Usually I trust Jake to go over the hill ahead of me, find the birds and point them them until I approach and flush. Obviously, he had a brief problem with the pointing part. The briefness continued over the next three ridges. I can't remember seeing as many flushed birds as I saw today. It seemed like Jake had found a new game of how many chukars can I chase over the Big Guy's head. Every time he crested back over the ridge to see if I was going to shoot and then head back for more.

I was using the rain as an excuse. Rain will knock a lot of the scent down but he was busting enough birds that I couldn't really fall for that. Finally, he locked on point and I hoped we might put it together. As I approached him from the side and tried to position myself for a downhill shot Jake broke and chased the single up. Wanting to shoot badly, common sense finally sunk in and I slid the safety back into position. Jake gave a ten yard chase and came back looking for more birds.

This went on for about 2 more hours and I decided to head back towards the truck. I was getting a little upset and I knew that it would be better if I just let the day go and maybe we could get back to the old routine the next time out. Several more times Jake pushed birds up ahead of me. Finally about 200 yards above the truck Jake locked up again. This time he held point as I moved below him for the flush. Everything went as planned except, at the report of both barrels, the chukar  and buddies flew across the canyon. Jake gave a short 20 yard chase and than looked back up at me and wondered if I would really throw my shotgun.

I have no explanation of what happened to Jake today except to say he just had a bad day. I still have to wonder was the rainy weather part of the problem. Could me shooting at that first flushed covey been part of the problem, coupled with Conner shooting at a few flushed coveys this weekend? At 14 years old, who wouldn't?

Maybe it was Jake's way of getting me out tomorrow. He could think I need two days of conditioning. You know, I think that's it. We'll just have to go chukar hunting again tomorrow. Darn.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The limit is 8

For several years I've listened to or read from those who are a little better than me and I let t it roll off my shoulders with little importance. But, a couple of recent events have compelled me to respond. I hope I don't lose your respect because I intend to keep chukar hunting one of the most enjoyable experiences I have ever had even if it means I have to quit telling people of my fun experiences.

In my circle of friends there is no EGO. Sure we secretly hope we get more birds than the other or shoot the biggest buck, but we know that tomorrow might just be the opposite way around and good for you. There seems to be more and more people out there with big EGO's that use the excuse of 'my personal limit". If it isn't an excuse then why do you even have to mention it. What you shot is what you shot. Chukar hunting isn't supposed to be a challenge of manhood, but rather enjoyment of the chase, the country and the dog.

I have heard too many times while discussing chukar hunting with others or reading in the internet the saying "my personal limit is ?", and it usually comes after I mention the great day I had. I don't try and tell people how many birds I got unless asked and I really hate hearing "I shot only four because that's my personal limit" trying to make me feel like I'm doing a bad thing. Especially when you know that person shot twice that many birds a week ago.

It always has amazed me how personal limits change from week to week. I've seen one person that has gone from one bird limit to a 6 bird limit and even had a 0 bird limit one time because he was into taking pictures. But still he carried a shotgun. Trust me, I've had many skunked days in the field and everyone of them I was carrying a shotgun and trying to get a bird. I'm not embarrassed to say it and am grateful for those days. They help me appreciate any good days I might have.

There is also the guy that shoves the 28 gauge or .410 in your face. Usually after you have shown your success. Even a double gun over an automatic which can shoot five shells in Idaho. Mentioning that only tries to diminish the accomplishment of the person who might have shot more birds.. I shoot a twelve gauge double barrel with 1 1/4 ounce of lead because it's what I enjoy shooting. One day I might go to a lighter 20 gauge simply because it is lighter but it won't be an excuse for getting fewer birds. I'll still be going for the legal limit and usually won't get it.

As we get older we seem to reflect back to the younger generation and tell them about the good old days. Yes, things were different back then but not necessarily better. Especially when it comes to chukar, huns and quail. I can't say this is the best year since the early seventies, but it seems to be on course to being in the top five. A couple of years ago it was one of the lowest I remember but there were still birds to be chased. The die hard chukar hunters were out there getting birds while the other's were blaming it on the fish and game. I don't know that this isn't the best year ever because it's not fair for me to compare this year to 2010 when I was 6 years younger and covered a little more country.

In closing, I have to admit to not understanding our current world. Maybe it's always been this way. We seem to be more interested in putting the other person down than being happy with our own accomplishments. Look at our current politics. No, let's not. Let's keep it simple on something like a marriage. It use to be the joining of two happy people that we wished the best for, now it's how fancy the wedding is and how much money was spent. Our young people are growing up worrying more about being better than the Jones's than just being happy. Be happy with what YOU have accomplished. If you're not than make a change to make it better.

As we get older we also come up with more excuses for being less successful. The truth is we can't get out there like we used too. We should be happy for the strength to do what we can and hope the next generation appreciates what we have as much as we do. Saying it's not like the good old days. That's a cop out. For chukars, this is the good old days.

For those who take offense  in what I have written, think about this. I, and I think more like me, don't care what your personal limit is, I just care that you had a good time getting or not getting the birds that you got. I don't care what kind of gun you have, I just hope you enjoy shooting yours as much as I do mine. I don't care what line your dog is from, I hope you enjoy him or her as much as I do mine. I hope you enjoy your hunts as much as I do mine with no excuses. I will try to understand it when you say, "I wasn't trying to get any birds, I just wanted to go for a hike in the wilderness" but decided to pack my shotgun.

I'll get back to posts about Jake and our hunts if I don't get stoned to death by someone. Once in a while I'll be able to post some pictures of success and tell you how proud or not so proud of Jake's work for the day. It all comes down to him for chukars. When he quits enjoying it so will I. Meanwhile I'll leave you with this picture. Can you imagine how great of a weekend I had with Conner? Four species of game animals this weekend. No, his personal limit was not one of each bird. He had several of each species of birds behind great work with Jake. What else in the world could matter?

Friday, October 7, 2016

A grand day.

Yesterday, my grandson, Conner, called me and informed me that he had today off school and was hoping we might get a chukar hunt in today or this weekend. Being today was supposed to be the coolest of the three days, I opted for today and headed to Meridian this morning to pick him up and then headed for the chukar mountains. Shortly after sun rise we were on the hunt. Although we were hunting chukars, we hunted through a spot I have often seen blue grouse but Jake found no evidence of birds.

One and one half hours later we were out of the grouse country and looking for huns and chukars. Although it was a little cooler with the cloud cover, the dry soil was leaving very little scent for Jake to get excited about. Two hours into the hunt I was concerned that Conner might be getting a little bored. We stopped for a short break and he assured me that he was still excited to push on. Shortly after that Jake had his first point.
I backed off and took a few pictures of Conner and Jake and hoped for a decent shot. Earlier he had decided he wanted to shoot my 12 gauge Browning over and under and I figured, why not. I watched him move in on Jake's point and miss with the first barrel as they flushed but dropped a chukar on the second.
Jake immediately rushed in for the retrieve and although he wanted to bring the bird to me, he relinquished the bird to Conner. I was relieved that the ice was finally broken.
From that point on we were into birds. I was trying to both take pictures as well as be a participator. I soon found out I couldn't do both with any type of success. If I got pictures, I'd miss the shot and if I tried moving in on the point with Conner I was missing some possible good pictures. It wasn't long and Conner had bird number two. Once again with the second barrel. Jake was now starting to figure out who deserved the bird.
When there was a crippled bird he would bring it to me as though if it weren't dead it must have been shot by me.
Conner's shooting remained good and when he shot a chukar with the first barrel and started showing it off to me I figured it time to put the camera away.
We remained on the hill for five hours and I can't explain how proud I was to watch my 14 year old grandson work with my 3 year old shorthair and almost accomplish his first chukar limit. He was one shy but made up for it by making a great shot at a hun. Jake was the pro I new he could be. At times he would let Conner 20 yards out front of his point before relocating and not once all day did he rush the birds. What a great pair to hunt with.

I also realized how hard it is for two people to hunt chukar over one dog. It's not like walking on flat ground. There's a good chance that only one is going to get the shooting and number two has to succumb to safety. It doesn't matter though. When it's your dog doing the work for your grandson, your chest starts puffing out with pride. Conner's take was his best ever for chukars.
Although my contribution wasn't as good as Conner's, the day was mine. I was the luckiest man on the hill to hunt with these two wonderful companions.
What a GRAND DAY.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Blogs

While looking through my blog today I realized that the side column that show other favorite blogs doesn't show up any more. I'm trying to remedy that but currently cannot figure it out. There are many well written blogs out there that have to do with chukar hunting and are very informative and entertaining to read. The first one that comes to mind is Bob McMichaels "Chukar Hunting". He and his wife, Leslie, have some great stuff. He just posted a great video on public land hunting and nailed it.

I'll keep writing about Jake and my experiences on the mountains and hope I can keep you as informed and entertained as these Blog's. Chukar Vortex, Mouthful of Feather's, rookiebird and A Bird Hunter's Thought's. There are several more, but these five came to mind.

Meanwhile back to Tuckers Chukars and Jake's meanderings and my fibs. The season is shaping up to be a good one. We've had good and bad days as far as filling the game bag, but no bad days when you count the amount of game seen so far. Jake is giving some great points only to be followed by some very impressive bumping of birds. A few times he looked like a sprinter running through the finish line. The dust and pollen has been a real curse for us so far this year. I have to wash the green crust off Jake's nose two or three times a hunt. I let him use that as an excuse for bumping so many birds. The cooler days have definitely been more productive, both on dog points and finding birds. This time of the year I'm fortunate enough to be able to watch the calendar and pick the better days to get out there.

The Oregon and Nevada opener are this weekend and I'm sure there will be lots of happy dogs out there. The numbers are there. But take lots of water because I understand the heat is coming back and your pups are going to need all you can pack.

Jake's take for the day will hopefully give some food for thought for the remainder of the season.