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.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Chukar camp

With winter getting closer, Barb and I decided we'd better get at least one more camping trip in before the snows come. Little did we know that we would have such great company to share some of our time with. We spent four days at Brownlee and met several other chukar hunters and great dogs. I had heard some discouraging reports about the bird numbers, but was encouraged when we reached the campground and saw a familiar camper with three brittanies sitting out front. I'd never met Orlin ( I believe that was his name) until this trip but he and his pups have been there every year I can remember and that was a positive sign. He was from Mackay and knew how to find birds.

My first day of hunting started with Jake and I high on the mountain and in the fog. It didn't hinder Jake at all and he was soon on point about 200 yards in the fog. Luckily for me, the fog lifted quickly and Jake and I were on covey after covey from that point on. Most of the covey's were huns but I thought to myself, "if this is low numbers of birds then you'd be through with a limit of birds the first hour on good years". We were having a ball.
Day two began the same as day one but in a different location. We hoped to find more chukars but sot rained out about two hours into the hunt. We found birds but got soaked doing so and quit early to get back to camp and warm up.
Back at camp was a new camper parked close by and I recognized the Alaskan license plates as a correspondence through the blog and was excited to swap some stories. We had met one other time but had never been able to swap tales. We visited through the evening and decided to go up on the hill together the next morning and split up from there. I'm always excited to watch another guy work with his dog on a chukar mountain. From a distance I watched Larry and Annie work and was treated to a distant point and retrieve by Annie. The stories of their success were great on the ride back to camp.
What a treat Larry Semmen and his Griffon, Annie. Thank you for coming by and showing your stuff. On our ride back in the side by side, Larry mentioned he saw a guy hunting up that way with two dog's and I shouldn't have been surprised when we found Greg Allen back at the camper. He had missed our departure in the morning and decided he would hunt up towards where we were. Of course he and his two girls, Katie and Trudie picked up all the covey's we had driven past and now was back at the camper with his birds and dogs.
Greg is one of the best hunters I know and our families have a long history, so there was plenty to discuss. As you can see, his girls are pretty mellow after a long days hunt. 

Shortly after Greg and Larry left there was a knock on the camper door. There stood Brian Dirks another chukar hunter from out of state that I met through the blog several years back. We met, camped and hunted together a few years back. He is also a GSP guy and besides chukar hunting together we shared a few stories of losing great dogs. He, like the rest of us, treats his dogs like family. In fact, Brian brought his new family member into the trailer to meet Barb, Jake and I. Tigger is a beautiful 13 month old young lady with tons of energy and never stood still unless it was to give kisses and sit on the back of the couch cleaning your ears. The next day was to be her first chukar hunt and Brian was excited to see what was going to happen. As Barb and I were headed home we were excited for Tigger and Brian when he sent us this picture of her first chukar retrieve.
Larry and I rode up the hill and hunted our separate ways on day four before we met up and headed back to camp. We shared our success stories, shook hands and headed home in different directions. It was one of the best camping/hunting trips Barb and I have had in a long time because of the great company these guys provided. I hope to get with all of them again in the future. I encourage anyone else that sees my truck or know I am going somewhere to please stop by. Anybody that loves dogs and chukar hunting has to be good people.

This last picture is a rebuttal for those who say there aren't many birds this year. In four days, Jake logged 81 miles and I logged 26 miles and enjoyed every step along the way.
This was our take for the trip minus a couple of birds we ate and the birds from day four.
P.S. You never know what these dogs are pointing.

Monday, November 6, 2017

A lot of weather and a lot of chukars

Days like yesterday usually keep me bayed up at home but with a 15 year old grand son that loves to hunt and still has school and other commitments I figured I'd better chuk up and head for chukar country. Unlike me, he gets only so many opportunities and we'd better take advantage of every one.

The drive in was cloudy and showed promise to a better day than the forecast showed and even though the wind was a little stiff we started finding birds soon after we began our ascent.
We had both bagged a bird before the clouds started rolling over the hill and the rain started. It wasn't long before the rain turned to snow and the hillsides changed in color.
It was coming down hard enough that I put my camera back in a baggie to keep from ruining it but had to take at least one picture of Conner approaching Jake on point before doing so.
There were a couple of wild times when Jake chased the birds up for whatever reasons but he had a lot more great points than he did mishaps so all in all I was pretty pleased with his day. I don't know where all the birds came from but we were in birds most of the time for the five hours we were on the hill. At first the comfort wasn't that bad but as the snow got wetter so did Conner, Jake and I. Not wearing the proper garb our gloves and pants were now soaked and our hands were not feeling as well as usual, except for the feeling of cold. With Conner along, that didn't seem to matter.
Also the number of chukars we encountered help to keep things a little warmer. I'm not exaggerating to say we saw over two hundred birds in the seven miles we covered. We saw several of the covey's more than once but all in all we saw at least 200 different chukars. we never saw one covey of huns and it is an area where we have seen huns on past years. I finally convinced Conner we should count our birds and head back for the truck. We had five birds each and a lot of new country to hunt on our way back down to the truck.
The new country on the way back to the truck found chukars as plentiful as the ridge we went up and with some good dog work we both shot our remaining 3 birds before heading more in a straight line for the truck. We kept the guns loaded in case we found some huns but it never happened. Jake must know how to count also because he started hanging close and stopping when we would to sit and shiver. He was a wet and cold dog.
We stopped for a success shot before getting to the road and by then Conner was shivering also and talking about the warmth of the truck and hurrying down to it.
It ended up a truly great hunt with Conner. Putting things in better perspective we counted empties when we got home and we only fired 26 times to get our 16 birds. Not bad for an old man and a 15 year old kid.

A side note on the chukars we got. Most birds were first year birds. Although some of them were mature many of them were from late hatches and barely the size of a large hun. The sad thing about those birds is that they had little or no fat reserves yet. The larger birds were fattening up great but these young guys haven't had enough time to build fat reserves and if we have any kind of a rough winter will probably not make it through the year. It's just the way mother nature works. Somehow she will take care of us and keep chukars flourishing for years to come.

I believe it was the age of most of the birds that has been keeping some from finding many birds and now with scenting conditions at an optimum people should be finding more birds on their hunts. Good luck.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Bird dog wars

As usual, after a day's hunt and birds cleaned as well as the shotgun, Jake and I relax on the recliner and enjoy whatever might be on the boob tube. The hunting channel just happened to have a show called "Bird dog wars" and I tuned decided to see how Jake and I would compare to these other dogs.
Jake sat on my lap and moaned and groaned. I have to say he sounded a lot like me and I gave him the same sympathy that Barb gives me after a hunt. None. The show was fun and I did see some good points and shooting. The only thing I found disrupting was all the yelling for their dogs to stay, whoa, hurry with the retrieve, and so on. It's a timed event so the yelling does have a purpose. By the end of the show they had the winner. Before you trialers hang me out to dry, I understand the purpose of this trial and the many other trials and competitions beside the just having fun. That's how you get good lines from dogs to sell. I hope I said that right. 

Anyhow, by the end of the show, Jake and I decided we wouldn't compete very well with these dogs. First off, if I yelled at Jake, he'd just ignore me and do what he wanted anyhow. Next, this thing about being in a hurry to retrieve the bird to me, well speed doesn't count with Jake. How many times he puts the bird down and readjusts his grip depends on how steep the country is and how many birds he has already retrieved, not to mention that he'll find a trail to side hill back up to me rather than the straight up approach. After I take the bird, he requires help in removing feathers from his mouth before resuming the hunt, The hell with this speed stuff.

He does have a quick speed. after the bird has been delivered and his mouth cleared, he goes mach ten to get three hundred yards away to find the next covey. I'd be timed out before I could even get to his point. Yes, the judge would be impressed with his solid point but if his lungs were burning as bad as mine are by the time I reach Jake's straight up hill point, he wouldn't be capable of writing down a score.
Those blind retrieves a good trainer can make his dog perform are very impractical to Jake and I. It's truly the blind leading the blind. Today I shot a double and crippled both birds. The show Jake put on would amuse any dog trainer. He would catch one cripple and the second bird would start flopping down the hill so he'd drop the bird he had and chase down the second. Then the first bird would start flopping and so he dropped number two and chased back after number one. This went on for two or three minutes and all I could do was sit on the hill and enjoy the show. He finally got the birds to me but wasted a lot of energy getting it done. There were definitely no style points in that retrieve.

Jake also broke a couple of times on running birds. He'd make the point (has to be three seconds on bird dog wars) but would chase the bird as soon as it started running. One of the times I would have gotten the ignorant trainer award for shooting the bird he chased up. Nobody said the hunter had to be smarter than the dog and I definitely am not. I'm just smart enough to wait for Jake to point
and then I'll move in for a shot.  Sometimes I get lucky and Jake rewards me with a retrieve and I'm top human on the hill for a short time. Then there is the next point and shot which moves me down the ladder a few notches. We'll just keep enjoying these bird dog shows and wish we could do some of the things they do, but consider our score as the number of points and retrieves Jake has in a day and how well I perform behind him. Sometimes, like today, we'll get a high score
and many times not score so high. Usually that's because of the human equation.
For those interested, we are finding more and more birds each time we go some place. Conditions are perfect right now so get out there with your dog and enjoy.