Thursday, July 20, 2017

ouch!!!

I just got back from a 150 mile dirt road trip looking for birds. I don't usually scout from the road but after my last three hikes I thought I might give looking for quail a try. On my last three outings I saw a pair of chukar which I believe didn't have any little ones by the distance they flew and another single chukar. I was getting a little desperate to prove that this winter wasn't as hard on wildlife as some might make you believe. So I took a drive to places where I knew quail are abundant. In shortly under 150 miles I saw 2 pair of quail. By the time I got home I was ready to concede to the hunters with the half empty glass theory but not before looking at my entries from July of the last ten years.


Summing it up, I've already been out more this July than any other July. My bull headedness has taken over and I so want to prove my early prediction forecast that I'm wasting lot's of time, gas and energy, not to mention getting a little disappointed. In ten years the only decent covey of chukars I have seen in July was the 17th four years ago and there was about fifteen 6 to 8 week old birds with a pair of adults. Yes, I have had a few other encounters, but the month of July should be the month to stay home and save some miles on the truck and legs.

August has been a pretty good month to find young birds if my entries prove anything but the weather conditions seem to be as responsible for finding birds in the off season as it is during the hunting season. Almost every August after a rain or on a cool morning I have been successful at finding birds with young. The surprising note is how many really young birds I find in August. There seems to be quite a separation of age in birds at that time. From week old birds to 8 weeks or better.

The amount of big game animals I saw the last two weeks should have been some type of clue that I was wasting my time being on the mountain. I didn't see one calf or fawn in areas that in June I was constantly coming in contact with one after another. It seems like the only animal out in the sun was this dumb human with a not so enthusiastic dog.

Don't go negative on me. I know deep in my heart there will be lot's of great opportunities this fall and my negative outings were just poor timing and planning. We have never seen young quail around here until the end of July but somehow I though this year might be different. I understand now that July is the month to stay up high in the timber if you want to stretch your legs and exercise the dog. All this month did was make me second guess myself.

Who knows, maybe those that say this winter was terrible on wildlife might be right. I still don't think it was although I may have to back off on my "way to early forecast" of a great year to an average year for chukars and huns. Next month will help get a better feel but the real test for us chukar hunters is when the season begins. I'm still as excited as I was in February for the season start and will be on the mountain as often as time and Jake allow.

I'm looking for some positive vibes out there from some of you to help keep us excited.

Friday, July 7, 2017

It's beginning

Jake and I took the two hour ride over to one of our Oregon hunting locations yesterday and had a pretty nice hour and a half hike before we had to get back to the truck and some shade. With the early sunrise this time of the year we had to leave home at 3:30 in order to get a little quality mountain time. Especially for Jake who goes through the water pretty quickly.

Although we didn't see lot's of birds, we had two situations with new birds on the ground. Both groups had chicks not more than two or three days old. I can't say how many chicks were in each group but can say the tall grass was moving from something making a high peeping sign while an adult was playing the crippled bird game. That kept Jake's attention long enough for me to spot a few of the chicks. In one case there was only one chukar playing hurt (I have to assume it was a female) and in case two there was a pair with only one playing hurt. The second bird flew only 20 yards or so and disappeared. Like earlier, I could hear the peeping but had a tough time locating them without taking the chance of stepping on one.

I also saw two other single chukars that flew a distance and a pair that also flew a ways. It's only speculation but I can't help to believe the singles were hopefully males who's mate was still sitting a nest and the pair were also sitting a nest somewhere. I did not see any adult covey's which is a good sign that the birds are either still nesting or trying to renest. Covey's of full grown chukars are usually a sign of unpaired birds that either were unsuccessful  with their hatch or never paired up.

I still want to stay positive about the upcoming season even though I haven't seen a lot of proof yet. I've seen many blue grouse but no chicks yet and on my return home yesterday I saw several loan bull quail along the dirt road. Their female partners had to be somewhere close by and I prefer to believe they were sitting a nest or hiding the little ones close by.

Although this winter was a very harsh one, I believe the game animals fared very well through it. I remember winters similar to last years back in the 60's and we accepted them as part of the culling process of Mother Nature. It seems like today people want to view everything with a negative tone, posting press releases like the one posted July 2 claiming harsh winter took heavy toll on western U.S. I'd rather post the press release from Idaho Fish and Game on June 22 that said the winter kill was less than expected for mule deer, and elk fared even better. Jake and I have not had a trip since the first of June where we haven't found several fawns, calf elk, or turkey babies. The upland rearing season has just begun and I want to believe there will soon be lot's of positive signs for a good season. So far I think Mother Nature has provided us with a lot of positive clues.

We've also seen a few ruffs out there in the timber country.