Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Down time

Yesterday was a sad day for Jake and me. I thought maybe I could get back to a short hunt after my fall last Friday so I took Jake where I thought we might find a few birds. I no more than got off the road and took my first step on the steeper slope and my back cramped up and down I went. Oh wow! did it hurt.

I immediately rounded Jake up and headed into the doctor who informed me that my back was pretty screwed up in medical terms and that it looked like I had probably had a minor concussion. I told her of the need for Jake and I to be on the mountain and she advised me to stay off any type of hill and only walk on flat land for the next week or I might lose the rest of the season. So home we will stay until the day after Christmas and God willing I'll be back chasing chukars with Jake.

I've been looking back through the pictures of December hunts and thought I'd share some of the better ones with you. It's probably not the same for you because it is not you and your dog, but I'll share them anyway so that you can see how much fun I have when we go out together.

Some of the animals we got to see.
A couple of scenery pictures from those cold and frosty days.
A point in the fog.
Several of the many points Jake provided.
I'm pretty lucky that Jake likes to show off and give me both time to take pictures and still get some shooting. He loves retrieving almost as much as he does pointing the birds. He just doesn't care to put the bird in my hand.

The birds go into the vest all the same and eat just as well as if he'd placed them in my hand. Jake seems to know when we're close to being finished. He picks up his own trophy and packs it around for a while.
The trip before my falling trip, Jake and I got a new personal record. He logged 33.96 miles and I did 9.78 miles. That was our best hiking day together. I had a few longer jaunts with Tucker but I was much younger than, too. This was our last days hunt in December.
We hope to get two or three more hunts this month and put some more miles on and birds in the bag. I'm hoping that all the rest of my adventures this year are positive ones and I can provide some more entertainment for those not as fortunate as I with lot's of time in the field. 

Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you. Get out there with your buddies and enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. That's all it takes to put more birds in your vest and wildlife pictures into your memory. We're all pretty fortunate to be able to enjoy Idaho's wild life with just a simple stroll into the mountains.

Happy hunting to all of you,
Jake and Larry

Friday, December 15, 2017

Every hunt is an adventure.

Jake and I just finished our long ride home from Oregon. It was long because I fell today pretty hard on my back and the ride home was very uncomfortable. I'm not new to falling this time of the year but this one had me free falling for about 8 feet before I landed flat on my back with shotgun on my chest. I'd forgotten what it felt like to have the wind knocked out but the memory came back to me as Jake stood there licking my face or maybe he was thinking I needed mouth to mouth.

Before that we were finding lot's of birds and Jake was on top of his game.
Some of the time I was too.
For four hours Jake would find covey's of chukar and a couple of large covey of huns and I moved out front for the flush. Once again today my shooting was below average and Jake ran in the direction of the flushed birds just to return with puzzled look and empty mouth,
Once in a while I would do my part and Jake happily retrieved the bird. 
Not enough times to please Jake or me.

About a half mile from the truck Jake locked up just below the trail I was on and as I neared the point my foot slipped and the next thing I knew I was being propelled over a sage brush to a flat spot about ten feet below. My shotgun was still tight against my chest and for the next minute or so I was wondering if I was going to get to find out if the SPOT worked. I don't know what happened to Jake's point but was appreciative to his licking me back to health. 

Five minutes later I was trying to stand up and gather all the things that had fallen from my pack and proceeded to another trail in a crunched over position and moving pretty slow. After a while I was standing taller and I noticed a piece of my gun missing. I could look right into the trigger mechanism. I have no idea how the piece got broke off but I know we hit the flat spot and there was quite a jolt.

About 200 yards from the truck Jake was on point at 78 yards up the hill. The hill there wasn't real steep and I decided I could chuk it up enough to get to him. I only needed one more bird and thought how great it would be to finish that way. It wasn't to happen that way though. As the birds flushed I raised the gun up and tried to swing with them but couldn't and fired both barrels behind them. 

At the truck I snapped a picture of Jake, the birds and my gun and started thinking about our next adventure.
I have a matching shotgun to use while this one is at the doctor.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Pictures tell the story.

These pictures tell the story of yesterday's hunt. There was a lot of hiking but plenty of birds to pursue.

Monday, December 4, 2017

December snows

With the fresh snow that had fallen yesterday I figured Jake and I would chance a hunting trip. I have to admit that as I age I like hunting in the snow less and less. Today was no different even though there was plenty of excitement. As always with the snow my shooting percentage drops and I constantly slide down the hill. Luckily the ground was soft under the snow so most of my landings were good.

About 1/3 of the way up the draw Jake started milling around in an area with a high curious nose. There was a hole back under a log and I figured it might be a bear den. I took my pack off and left my shotgun with it and took my camera down for a possible picture. I was a little surprised when a small bear came charging out and headed up the hill.
I've found several dens in the past and the bears are pretty lethargic this time of the year. December 2nd five years ago I found this den and the large bear inside let me take pictures but gave a low grumble as I tried to touch him.
But this little guy was having nothing to do with Jake and I. He headed up the hill and flushed a covey of chukar as he left.
Now this is where a smart hunter would think "let's follow these chukars around the hill. This may be the elevation they're at." But no, Jake and I continue up the hill to the ridge top where there was about 6 inches of snow with 12 inch drifts. I might add there were no chukars or tracks on the ridge but a little further up were a lot of crows so maybe we should investigate. As many times as I'd fallen in the snow most people would figure they had gone uphill far enough but for some reason my brain doesn't work that way. I was a little disappointed  when I found what the crows were eating on but realize it's just part of nature.
About three hours into the trip Jake finally went on point.
I moved in above him and a large covey of chukar exploded from the brush. I could only get one shot but lady luck was with me.
I usually don't follow a covey flush but there was about forty birds in this group and they flew way down the slope. I figure that was a good clue to get down there. It was a long time before we got down to the birds elevation but we started busting covey's as we got to the lower hills where the snow was already melting off the south sides. Jake did a great job on the birds that would hold but got a little excited watching birds running on top of the snow and up hill. I'd see him following the tracks up hill and pretty soon the birds would be flying with a quick excited bark. He'd come back down the hill and we'd get back to business. I was getting a little tired and was bummed when we saw these elk between us and the rig.
We made a big loop around them so as not to spook them and we got paid back by picking up a couple of huns.
I shot about as poor as I have all year but thanks to Jake we still came home with a few birds.
By the time we got back to the truck a lot of the snow had melted off the lower grounds but I was too beat to go any further. About one more day of weather like today the snow will be melted up to a reasonable point for me so Jake and I will probably attempt another hunt. We saw loads of birds once we found them. I'd guess 100 or more chukars and another 40 huns. These birds had lot's of fat reserve and are going into the winter in good shape. 

Good luck in the final 58 days of the season.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Pictures

I had a request from a reader as to if he could send pictures through the comment portion? I guess my blogger doesn't allow it and I'm not smart enough to figure out how to get it to change. So if anyone would like to show off their success, lack of, dog or other wise try sending them to my email at szurgot@frontiernet.net and hopefully I'll be able to add you pictures in some form. Tailgate pictures are very welcome. I like showing people how many more hunters out there are having as good of a time as I am. I'm going to start by showing these two pictures of Brian Dirks 13 month old pup, Tigger, in action. Hope you don't mind Brian but they're too good not to show.
Chukars watch out, there's another top dog in town.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Carson's first chukar

Another one bites the dust. Conner wanted to introduce his friend, Carson to chukar hunting and I volunteered to bring Jake along to help find some birds. Being that this was Carter's first year to hunt I decided to leave my shotgun in the truck for safety purposes. I packed my camera instead.
Barb was kind enough to drop us off high on the mountain and agreed to pick us up at the given location 5 1/2 hours later. It turned out to be a good move because we didn't find a bird for the first hour and I got to watch how Conner, Carson and Jake worked together and that safety was observed. It was enjoyable to watch them walk the hills and respect the directions of the guns. I got close to 100 pictures in our 8 mile hike but won't bore you with most of them, just a dozen or so. Here goes. Conner and Carson moving in on one of Jake's first points.
The flush
The result after Conner's shot.
When I asked Carson why he didn't shoot, he remarked that the birds were too far by the time he got his gun to the shooting position. We discussed how to properly approach the point with a ready gun, not shouldered, and try to be square to where you think the birds might flush, shoot ahead of the bird and keep swinging the gun after the shot. It's that simple, right?

Before going any further I must admit to how Carson picked the shotgun he was using. Here was his choices. My Browning 12 gauge over and under, which I love shooting, a Remington auto in 12 gauge, a Benelli pump 12 gauge or a 20 gauge Remington 870. My main concern was which safety feels most comfortable for safety reasons. He chose the 870 because he had shot a gun with a similar safety. Now, I'm going to be hung out to dry on this one but when it comes to chukar hunting, I don't think the fit is as being comfortable with the gun. 50% of the time, when you are shooting at a chukar, you're not in position to properly mount the gun. One foot is higher than the other, the birds aren't where you thought, you're standing on slippery snow, or another thousand excuses as to why you can't properly mount the gun. In most other hunts, the gun fit is very important because you know where the shot is coming from, you're on level ground and have time to properly bring your gun to the shoulder. Anyhow, that was my opinion to Carson. Comfort.

On to the hunt. Conner didn't mind at all waving Carson in to where he figured the best shot would come from.
Carson got his first shot but forgot to swing the barrel with the flight of the bird.
We talked a little more about the swing through and were off to the next point. Carson followed through a lot better but still missed while Conner showed off the hun he shot off that flush.
The nice thing about being the guy taking the pictures is that I don't always walk all the way but just sit back and take pictures from a distance as they approach Jake's points.
And then it happened. Carson moved in on the birds and snapped a shot.
Jake brought the chukar back to Carson as if he knew who had shot the bird and there were three excited people and one dog on the hill.
The day just kept on going like this and we had plenty of covey points and shots fired and for a couple of young punks they made the day very exciting to be a part of. Jake even started understand that I had nothing to do with this hunt and didn't bring any more of the birds to me which I appreciated. An empty bag with no shells and just water felt real comfortable, especially with no gun in hand.
My favorite pictures of the day were those where Jake would point 
and then I would take a series of pictures of the boys as they moved to the front for a shot.
I was a little quick on this shot but Carson dropped a bird here.
When we reached the pick up spot the boys hunter a short draw for some quail and had some fun shooting while Jake and I sat back at the trail. Jake didn't like hearing all the shooting while we hung back but we don't hunt quail and I figured the guys would be better off without us. 

I think Conner and I have created another upland hunter. Even though they had a pretty good shoot
we'll have to wait and see if Carson comes on our next invite. It was a tough hunt on the body.

I have to admit to maybe being selfish. I always read about people that take a young man out and get more satisfaction watching the young man have a good time than if they were hunting themselves. I really do enjoy watching others doing what I love and have taken many young men on trips for there first deer, in fact I've taken 16 teenagers out on successful first deer hunts and never even thought ". But chukar hunting does something else to me. I get the shakes whenever my dog is on point. Watching someone else take a bird is really thrilling, especially off my dog, but I'd be a liar to say I didn't wish it was me doing the shooting. I don't think I'll ever be that man that can just enjoy the scenery.