Monday, November 28, 2016

Snow

I woke up this morning to about an inch of snow at my house. I questioned going west but decided against telling Jake to get out of the back seat of the truck. As I drove west the snow was diminishing so I was becoming more excited about my decision. Than I made the turn to the north and the snow started getting heavier again. I didn't think there was that much elevation change but by the time I got to the ridge I wanted to go up there was 3 inches of snow on the ground.

3 inches of snow didn't use to mean much to me but over the last few years I'd just as soon stay home than to hunt in it. Jake didn't feel discouraged at all and as soon as the collar was on he was ready to scale the mountain.
As you can see, there are plenty of rocks and other hidden objects in the snow. I don't glide over the snow with the ease that Jake does, in fact I do more stumbling than I do walking. I don't dare look up or I know something is going to reach up from under the snow and pull me to the ground. If I want to see if there are actually deer at the end of the tracks, I have to stop and make sure both feet are planted before I look up. At least in January when the slopes are frozen I can see whether my next step is going to propel me down the mountain. In this fresh snow I don't see those hidden surprises until it's too late.

Although I wanted off the mountain early, I stuck it out for Jake. He did his job and found birds. But the first two points resulted in flushes at 20 yards and I never even got my gun up. Finally Jake held a covey of chukar on a flatter area and I managed dropping a bird on the first shot and shot way over another bird on the second.
Watching Jake hustle down to retrieve the bird was fun but it didn't quite ease the pain I felt as I looked at the two new rock gouges on my stock. It's funny how the snow doesn't ease the sound of a gun butt hitting the rock like it does the sound of the gun going off.

The day kept going about the same for 3 hours of hunting. That was all I could handle. Even a half of dozen or more points didn't help much. Four new scratches on the gun and countless bruises that will be showing up on me tomorrow out weighed the birds shot. Jake was solid and fun to watch covering the miles looking for birds but it was better for me to get out of the snow.
One of the advantages of being retired is having the pick of days to chase chukars. I know many hunters love the snow and more power to them but for me, I'll take the burnt off slopes that has some of that softer soil to sink my soles into.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

What a week

After giving Jake such a bad review he made a fast turn around and went from zero to a hero in one week. Not only does he have me eating crow he also filled my freezer with chukars and huns.

The week started last Saturday with Greg Allen and Conner over in Oregon. Although the birds were pretty wild, some of them held for some pretty good action for Conner. I backed off this point as Conner moved in.
He took the shot
and Jake brought the flopping bird back to him.
Although we didn't bring a lot of meat home we had a great day of hunting and Jake had a very good day.

Next Jake and I headed over to a lake closer to the Boise area. Jake was constantly on point.
Although I didn't get a lot of camera action, Jake provided me with some real shooting opportunities.
Then Jake and I headed for the big pond and a 4 day hunt. It would be just Jake and I for Thursday and Friday and Greg Allen meeting us for Saturday and Sunday. This would be my first trip into this location this year but by the bird numbers I've seen in both Oregon and Idaho along the reservoir I figured on having a good hunt. I just had no idea how good it would be. This was my camp on top of the hill. It's the last place to get phone reception before dropping down the canyon.
I wasn't there alone. These guys were down by the reservoir and out hunting.
I brought my side by side and tried a 4 wheel trail on one of the days. Although I got into some pretty good hunting I was shocked at the end of my hunt to see nine 4 wheeler's parked at different spot's on my way down the trail. This is just part of the parking lot at the trail head.
That's a pretty good reason to leave the side by side at home and start from the road from now on. Another good reason is that by starting at the road and going up your return trip is down hill. My return trip to my 4 wheeler was up hill and it about cashed me in.

I got over forty pictures of Jake pointing and retrieving and still managed to shoot decently. I have to attribute that to Jake who was almost rock steady all weekend.
Not to mention that there wasn't a bird that hit the ground that he didn't find. Some of them very long runners.
After day one I was looking forward to Greg showing up to enjoy some of the fun. Here's Jakes first days take.
I had four shells left from a box of 25 left in my vest to show how solid he was. That's way out of my league.
The next two days were almost as good with birds scattered everywhere. We hunted different places all three days and I don't think we ever went more than 1/2 hour without a point. In fact it was more like a point every ten minutes or less. I covered over 7 miles, 6 miles and 6 miles on each day. Jake logged in 26 miles, 25 miles and 19. My elevation gain was 2200 feet, 1900 feet and 1700 feet. I can't even imagine what Jake's elevation gain was.
I very seldom run into people on the hill but I met two guys on Fridays hunt. Glenn and Harry are a couple years older than me and it was great visiting with them and watching Gauge work. Talking with them I could tell they had the same love of chasing chukars that I have. They also stopped by the camp and swapped stories with me on their way home.  I always enjoy the company.
I also met another guy on the hill who had recognized me from the Upland Idaho forum. I think his name was Tim and he was running a couple of beautiful dog's. A pointer and a shorthair.
There were a lot of other animals on the hill with us. This coyote seemed very interested in watching Jake work. We were both surprised when I came around the hill towards one of Jake's points and found him about ten yards away. Needless to say his interest in Jake vanished and he was soon out of the country.
My eyes are usually watching the ground for the next obstacle to stumble over and I don't see many game animals until they are running off but I caught this doe watching Jake work the hill. I didn't even know the buck was there until I got home and looked at the picture.
As you can see the country is wide open. It's steeper than it looks but it's great country for watching your canine partner work. Jake's longest point was 277 yards away and it happened to be on a steep slope so it took a while to get to him but he held point like a real pro.
His finding the dead bird is almost automatic.
I called Greg on Friday night and he had stretched a hamstring playing racket ball so he was going to just make a shorter hunt on Sunday. Greg hasn't figured it out yet, he still insists on playing those sports he's too old for. So I decided to cut my hunt a day short. Besides, if Saturday was anything like the previous two days I would be close to my possession limit, something I never had to worry about in the past.
I've never seen the weather like this for as long as I can remember. I'd start my hunts in the morning with the temperatures in the low 40's and come off the mountain with the temps in the low 60's. Green grass is everywhere. The only down side was the amount of water I had to carry for Jake.
The rancher that runs his cattle in the area said it was the hardest November he could remember for rounding up the cows. Usually by this time of the year they are down low and easy to find. This year with all the green up they are scattered everywhere just like the chukars and huns.
It's been a week of great action. The kind of week chukar hunter's dream of. It's why we find it so easy to forgive our dog's for those trips when they seem to go brain dead. It makes you realize that maybe your gun barrel isn't bent after your previous hunt of going 0 for 19. More than anything else it leaves you with the feeling that LIFE IS GOOD.