Sunday, December 30, 2018

Pictures

We always say "it's about the dog's" and for the biggest part it is. But chukar hunters are about as lucky as it gets when it comes to the variety of animals we get to see. Here are just a few of the pictures I've taken this year while either in the field or en route. Life is good.















Legless lizard
                                                                               









Sometimes it isn't quite as pretty as this three legged elk and this cow elk and bull elk living their last years.


The boys and I are going to recoup and watch some bowl games the next two days and than got back to hunting chukars for the month of January. We'll be posting back on Grady's progress, which I'm very pleased about. He'd better be making progress with 57 chukar hunts under his collar already.

Happy New Year to all.



Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Confession's

There is some weather traveling my way from California. There's plenty of rain with snow in the higher elevations so I've been sitting around trying to entertain these two mutts and keep them from getting bored. Two days off is more than they can handle and to be honest more than I care to have also.

While at home yesterday I had a surprise visit from an old friend, Eric Bullock. He was a friend of my son and daughter's who went hunting big game with me on several occasion's while he was in high school. His visit reminded me of how many young men and a couple of young women I took out on first hunts. There were lot's of successful hunts and most of those young people still send me notes and pictures of them still hunting to this day which I really appreciate.

Eric mentioned he was on the list of Bob Farris's Poodle Pointers and was hoping to start doing more bird hunting now that his family is almost raised now. I envy the exciting journey of training and hunting with an upland dog he is about to encounter. It's just one more reason to be in the outdoors enjoying life.

What has this got to do with confession's? While visiting with Eric I realized I'm still a young kid. Most elderly gentlemen, which I am getting close to that age, say it doesn't matter about getting birds anymore, it's about the dog's or experience. Somehow, I never grew up. Although I wouldn't hunt chukars without a dog and I do love the scenery, I don't think I'd be out there humping the hills the way I do if I didn't think I could have some success. I still love walking up on a point, flushing the birds, and being successful with the shotgun. If not, why even pack it. I take hundreds of pictures every year and although I enjoy taking them, most of them are just to show off my dogs abilities. I never get the thrill with a camera as I do with the gun. Maybe that's wrong for an almost elderly man but somehow being successful, not only with dog work but also with the gun, is why I am out there.

The last two weeks have slapped me in the face to how immature for my age I must be. First of all, I went into a dismal slump of shooting. I thought of calling Troy over in California for some shooting tips but I soon realized these slumps are fairly common each year for me. Missing birds isn't uncommon for me but I was missing chip shots and I knew the dog's were wondering why hold the birds if the outcome was never to get a bird in the mouth? A mature elderly gentleman would not let that bother him and say something like "I was just out there for the dog's anyway and now I don't have as many birds to clean". Not me. I'd get home and be so frustrated with my shooting I couldn't let it go and was making my plans for tomorrow's hunt. I did this for five days in a row, the dogs putting on over 100 miles each while I did 32 miles and countless thousands of feet of elevation gain. Most almost elderly gentlemen would have been happy with all the beautiful scenery they had seen and the great dog work but I was frustrated with my lack of successful participation. Driving 100 miles in the morning hoping for a good day of dog work accompanied by a day of good shooting and than driving 100 miles home with the let down that I didn't do my part got pretty old.

I took a day off to reload some more shells and rest for the next days hunt with Conner. There was no way I was going to pack the camera and take pictures of Conner and the dog's and maybe get a shot now and then. I needed to put some birds in the vest and get my confidence back. That hunt was when I realized how immature for my age I must be. Most grandpa's would be plum tickled to have his 16 year old grandson with 7 birds in his vest while I had none and fired four shots. But with me not packing a camera over a shoulder for an excuse and knowing I wasn't getting my head down on the stock I was getting a little discouraged with myself, especially with Conner thinking I was the best chukar shot in the world. (Amazing how easily you can fool a kid).

The next covey of chukar the dog's pointed was Conner's eighth bird and I dropped one also. Anyhow I thought I did. I shot once and Conner shot twice. My confidence level was low enough I was wondering if maybe Conner shot my bird. He said he crippled his bird on the first shot and finished it on the second. A little more then two hours into the hunt and I had one bird and Conner had a limit. Since we were only about a mile from the truck and only a little short of 1000 feet of elevation gained a mature adult would have said "we've had a good day so let's head down" but with my performance of the past week I just had to try and redeem myself.

Try this for being an immature almost elderly man. What kind of grandpa would agree to letting his grandson pack his bird's all the way back to the truck, grab a camera and meet you somewhere on the hill and take pictures as I hunt. I quickly felt like an elderly man as I kept hunting behind my dog's and it seemed like at no time at all I could hear Conner's whistle letting me know he was back on the hill above me. It would have taken me forever to make that trip.
I had already had one opportunity and had been successful on the shot and shortly after Conner got to me I had another point and made it three for three on the last three shots.
The next three shots were also successful and I had turned a 0 for 4 day into a 6 for 10 and was feeling a lot better about myself. I wanted to push on and get two more birds as did Conner but for the first time I acted like an adult and voted to head to the truck which would never be any closer if we kept moving on. At the truck I snapped a picture of a pretty darn good day.
The point of all this is not to brag about my grandson's outdoor abilities or my last 6 shots compared to my previous, I can't count how many, shots. It's more about my ego, my love for chukar hunting, my inability to grow up, or whatever you might call it. When I go chukar hunting I want to be a part of the big equation. There's no doubt my dog's will do their job and I also want to participate. I don't want to be one of those people that say I could've, I'd rather say I did.

No, I don't get a limit all the time. In fact I don't get a limit most of the time, even when I'm shooting well. If a limit were easy that would take the challenge out of it. There have been years that I only got a limit once or twice and gone hunting over fifty times in the year. The bird numbers weren't there and no matter how good of a shot you are or how far you hiked it just wasn't going to happen.

My confession is that I still haven't got to that stage to where I say my personal limit is 2 birds because I'm a conservationist and want to save more bird for someone else. I love being successful and love watching my dog's work and one or two birds normally isn't going to do it for me. There have been down years where the bird numbers don't allow more than a bird or two or possibly none on a trip but the birds themselves dictated how many I got, not setting my personal limit because I just got x number of birds that day. I enjoy putting the gun down once in a while and film other's hunting over my dog's but I have to confess that I still love the full deal of point, shoot and retrieve and hope I never grow up.


Confession number 2. I have two similar citori's and Conner shoot's one while I shoot the other. I have some pretty good hand loads. At the end of a hunt, especially lately, Conner tells me his cheek is sore and mine isn't. Since he is shooting better than me you think maybe I should get my head tighter to the stock.

Hopefully, this weather will soon clear up and I'll have more fun things to tell you about.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Cougar's and other dangers.

Travis McLing gave me permission to post a couple of pictures from his most recent chukar hunt. As you can see it turned out pretty successful.
I don't know how to copy his whole story but it was excitement plus. His dog's actually got in a short wrestling match with the cat before Travis's shotgun placed a load of 71/2 shot in the cat's face at 8 feet and another into the cat's side as it released the dog's and then ran by him. If you get a chance read the full story in the Idaho Upland Bird Hunters blog. It's a good one.
I wrote a blog about a similar encounter I had about nine years ago and his description of the dog's point and encounter was very similar to mine except for the wrestling match. I figure this to be a good time to remind chukar hunter's of the big cat's presence especially this time of the year. They are around year round but as the big game moves lower into their winter grounds which are also popular places for the chukars the mountain lions follow.

The chances of having an encounter like Travis had are pretty slim but I'll bet most chukar hunters out this time of the year and getting away from the beaten routes would be shocked at how close they probably were to a lion at one time or another. I've seen several occasions where cats won't move until either the dog's force them to or the hunter comes so close that they finally must get out of town. Most chukar hunters are pretty quiet and there isn't a lot of noise from the dogs so many times Lions don't even know the hunters and their canine partners are near until they are within a 100 yards or so and by then the lazy cat just hunkers in his obscure little hiding place until the danger passes. It's kind of what he is good at. 

Don't run to your gun safe and grab your .357 or can of mace just yet though. I'd say the odds of you or your dog getting hurt by a lion are less than 1%. Just be aware of their possible presence and maybe you'll enjoy what very few people ever get to see once your heart settles back down. Just one more of the wonders of chukar country. 
This is the guy that got a little too close to Dakota nine  or ten years ago.
Who knows. You may be walking along some snow covered mountain and fall into what you thought was a badger hole but when you pull yourself back up you're looking at this guy.
After typing about Travis's luck with a cougar I got a note from Greg Munther down in Arizona. It seems like his luck wasn't quite as good even though nothing was trying to eat his dog. He ran into a danger of a different type. His dog, Oakley broke to flush and didn't see a stick hidden in the tall brush. All I know is that he said "darn for bad luck".
Ouch! Hopefully Lucy can cover for Oakley for the next two months and healing comes quick.
Upland hunting isn't always a walk in the park as these two incidents show. 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

First snow hunt

Once again I have forgotten how to do this stuff, but this was part of some video's I took of Conner and his buddy, Carson on a chukar hunt. I have learned that to get some decent footage you have to be back aways and able to zoom when needed. Obviously it would help to be on the opposite ridge where you could see everything but that's hard when the dogs are hunting for me even though I don't have a gun.

First three clips are of Jake on point with Grady honoring but you never get to see Jake. Both boys got some shots and Conner hit one that flew quite a ways. Conner takes the dogs down to find the bird and comes back showing his success.

Next is a point and honor with both boys moving into the thick cover. Both dogs relocate and Conner calls Carson over to Jake's point which he hustles over to. My impatience has me turning off the camera when I see Grady moving and just before the camera turns off you see the birds flushing but miss the boys getting a chukar each.

The next clip is a point and honor with the boys heading down to the dog's and I inadvertently hit the record switch to off and missed the action. Running the camera is no fun.

The next clip has the boys walking past a Grady point thinking he was honoring Jake (you have to look hard but you can see Grady's point) and then Carson spinning around as the bird flushes. Then the main Covey flushed with Conner dropping one and wounding the second and Carson finished him.

The last clip is the boys moving in on the dogs as they pointed a covey of chukar. Once again I missed the flush and shooting while moving to get a better angle but I kept this video to point out how the boys kept their guns (excuse me, my Browning over and unders) aimed in good directions as they slid on the hill approaching the birds.

All in all I got 35 minutes of footage and most doesn't show the action because of my lack of positioning and patience. I picked out these short clips so I could brag about my dogs and also point out what fine hunters these two 16 year olds have become.

They ended up with 9 chukars between them and decided they wanted to go jump shooting ducks today. That was fine with me. Getting soaked once is enough for me.

P.S. The boys came home from their hunt today with some pictures. Here is an example of how much fun they had and no they didn't have hip waders, just hiking boots.