Friday, August 16, 2019

Final scouting trip of 2019

I know it's been only a week since my prediction post but the dogs and I got out a few more times since then and although we got whipped by the heat we were more than pleased with our findings. The reason today was my last scouting day of 2019 is due to the heat. With the temperature going to be in the 90s for the remainder of the month we're going to spend some getting in shape time in the high country and close to water. Today, all three of us did a little more than we should have and this air conditioned house is feeling mighty good.

Filming was tough with most birds just being bumped and not a lot of time to get the camera into action. We got a couple of blues pointed, and some chukars off point but the number of chukars seen in our last two outings would have excited even some of the old timers that say it isn't like it use to be. The big difference in the last two trips was the size of the birds. I'd say at least 50% of the birds we saw were around four weeks old and we saw very few chick coveys over 6 weeks old. On top of that, most coveys had good number of birds. Almost every covey we found had at least 15 birds and one covey had no fewer than 40 chicks in it. I saw adults with them but couldn't say how many.

After looking over my notes from the past years I am now convinced more than ever that the majority of chukars hatch  around the first of July. I know that's not what the bird biologist say but it seems that I see this more than not. But it doesn't matter when they were hatched.  We have five more weeks before the opener and most of these birds will not be that much smaller than a full grown bird and will give you all of the challenge you could want.

I am convinced now that it is going to be a good year for the bird hunters. I am seeing quail numbers like I've never seen, the huns seem to be doing alright, and the chukars are definitely up from a good last year. The huns are probably doing great also but I usually don't find many until later in the season. I can't say much about grouse populations because I really haven't given much time in those areas this year. I know turkeys aren't a dog hunting bird but they have done phenomenal this year. If quail have done so well and turkeys have done the same why wouldn't all those birds in between their sizes do well also.

The main reason I mentioned turkeys is because of where I am finding them this year and how much Grady enjoys them. My Astro showed a new long distant record for Grady today. He was 700 yards away and when I looked way up the hill in his direction I saw a flock of turkeys flying my way. Evidently they didn't want to hold and Grady figured he could out run them. Here's a picture of a few of them in the chukar country we hunt. I know of no roosting size trees within two miles of here. Notice the size of the young ones for August 16.
                                                                       
I did the best I could at getting some chukar action on video but as I said it was to fast and furious for me and a camera. One part of the video is where I'm walking up on Jake's point but missed the flush of over 40 birds but I showed it anyway just to show how thick the cover is in spots. The rye grass or whatever it is was up to my shoulders in spots.

So, as far as I'm concerned, coming August 30th, I'll be out chasing grouse on any cool morning I can find and training for a great chukar season which opens about three weeks later. Get your boots greased, your shot gun oiled and that canine partner in shape for a great chukar season.

Good luck this year and send me plenty of pictures.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Predictions

It's a little early for predictions but I thought I'd describe my day and let you make your own predictions.

Before I begin, I want to welcome a couple of new chukar dogs. First is Elsa, a female GSP. She is the one sitting under me and is owned by one of the best chukar hunters I know, Greg Allen.
Next, is Breezy. The spelling is wrong but easier to pronounce this way. She is a Bob Farris Poodle Pointer and Eric Bullock's first bird dog. Eric is a long time friend and I'm hoping we get some time in together this fall.
It's been a little warm for the last three weeks and I've had a hard time getting excited about taking the dogs out in chukar country but I finally mustard up the energy today. We did a lot more driving than walking but came up with some good observations that I thought should be passed on.

I didn't get the pictures or video's I would like to have but I got enough to get the juices flowing.

First off, I was thrilled to see many pheasants in the grain fields with young ones chasing insects. I even saw four young roosters with just a little head coloring already.

Next came the turkey's. It seemed like almost every likely spot held a decent flock of turkey's. They grow fast and many of the little ones could be mistaken for full grown birds.
If there is a real success story to tell, it would have to be the California quail. They are every where. It seemed like almost every other corner in the road produced another covey.
The size difference was amazing. They went from bumble bee size to almost full grown.
It amazed me how the little ones could fly from the road and straight up into the trees or bushes. I can't remember ever seeing this many quail.

Another observation today was the amount of sun flower's I saw at all elevations. Wild birds love the sun flower seeds and I'm sure the birds will be using them as the seeds drop.
Also the ground cover is tremendous. There were times today that I couldn't see the boys because of the tall cover.
This was the area that the dogs and I hiked today. We were out for 1 hour and ten minutes and saw a good number of birds. Good dog work was nearly non existent with Grady covering the country at mach 10 and not getting scent until birds took flight. It didn't help much to bump about twenty huns 100 yards from the truck and a second large bunch of huns five minutes later. Getting camera action was almost futile. In the next hour we saw at least 7 covey of chukar and one more covey of huns. The only down side is that the coveys of chukars weren't large and I guess there was an average of 8 per covey. The only filming I got were of the birds running up the hills while the dogs were in search of more in a different area.

I have no formula to say how many birds per square mile but describing my day might give a clue to whether the birds are out there or not. I was pretty excited and this area is a fairly popular spot and easily accessible.

Steve Schwin over in eastern Idaho says he believes the cover is preventing people from seeing birds over there. He told me that if the birds don't do well this year it's time to throw all the data away and get back to the drawing board. I agree. This could be the perfect year.

I'll try and get out one more time before the grouse season and hopefully get some good footage of some large coveys.