Sunday, December 27, 2009
I watched an incident this morning that really brought this issue to heart. I live in an area that has lots of wildlife and has a landowner permit elk hunt. With my spotting scope I see many things that I don't consider quite ethical. Although legal, not ethical in my eyes. This morning a gal shot an elk leaving a haystack. When she walked up to it to grab the leg it kicked at her. She jumped back and than reached down to grab its leg again. Once again the elk kicked at her. She jumped back and started kicking the elk with her rifle over her shoulder. A few minutes later two men showed up in a four wheel drive truck, hooked a rope around the elks neck and drug her down into a draw where I assume they gutted the animal. Hopefully the elk had expired before they drug her off.
I don't consider shooting an elk the way that they did as hunting, but that is my personal feeling. But I do know that letting the elk suffer due to the 75 cent bullet cost or whatever other reason, is unethical and shows no respect for the animal. We chastise wolves, coyotes, bears,etc. for their cruel ways. But yet we, as the animal with the ability to reason, do the same without conscience.
As a bird hunter we have to decide on an abundance of ethics topics. Road hunting is one. Is road hunting ethical? To me it is a form of laziness. But what about the handicapped person? Should that person have to give up hunting just because he has become disabled? I don't think so. But the guy that is riding along with him or her that can't contain himself and jumps out of the rig and runs down the road slaughtering as many birds as he can is a hunting slob in my eyes. Not only did he give hunters a black eye, he cheated the people with him out of getting a chance to get a bird. I saw this happen once and that was exactly my feeling at the time.
Ground sluicing. Shooting a bird on the ground. In my eyes that is not fair chase. But many, especially chukar and pheasant hunters, think this as acceptable. Pheasants running down the corn rows and not taking flight are hard not to fire upon; neither is a chukar running up hill and won't take flight until he is out of range. Some of the people I hunt with wouldn't hesitate to take a bird that way. I reserve judgement on them and don't believe they should hold themselves to my standards. My personal ethics won't allow me to shoot birds on the ground. I get plenty of birds throughout the year and for me to shoot one on the ground would serve no purpose.
Party hunting. Shooting birds until everyone has there limit. I believe in most states this is also illegal but most people do it anyway. Especially water fowl hunters. When you're all shooting from a blind who knows who shot what? But most upland bird hunters have a pretty good idea of who shot what bird. The people I hunt with and I have an understanding. That is, we only shoot our own birds. I don't want anyone to deprive me of hunting opportunity and I won't do that either. It is such a thrill to get a shot at a bird, especially off point, and I don't want another hunter to take that away from me by shooting part of my limit. By the same token it is almost as exciting for me to empty my gun and watch another try to fulfil his limit.
Dispatching a crippled bird. Why should a bird be any different than the elk mentioned. They should not have to suffer, nor should we give more than our best effort to recover cripples.
There are a lot of simple little things that define your ethics out in the field. How you treat others property. Picking up trash, which includes your spent hulls. How do you conduct yourself around other hunters and non hunters in the field? Do you respect a hunting spot another hunter might have taken you to, or do you end up taking all your friends to it? Do you step aside and let someone else take a shot or do you always have to be in the action? These are just a few of the questions you have to ask yourself.
Ethics don't define us as good or bad people. Unless they are illegal. But our ethics help to define who we might want to hunt with or who might want to hunt with us. Just try to always do the right thing whatever you choose that to be.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Chukar hunters hunt a lot by themselves. There are many things you can do to minimize the risks while out there by yourself but plan for your safe return before you go. Always let someone know where you are going and don't deviate from the plan. Even if you suddenly remember that hot spot. Those birds will still be there another day. Have a plan with your wife or whom ever you have left the information with. I always take a two way radio with me and let the person know which channel I am on. That way if you're are not back at the given time, someone can get close to your location and possibly get a hold of you. Carry extra batteries for your radio.
Always carry fire starter, flashlight, whistle. extra jacket, or any of the other essential emergency things when hunting alone. You never know when you will need them. You can go a life time and never use them, but have an emergency happen just once without them and you may not be around to appreciate them the next time. There is also the SPOT emergency system that I will have with me next hunting season. It's a little expensive but still way worth the relief it can give you and your loved ones.
Hunting alone is never advisable but happens quite often for a variety of reasons. I happen to be retired and don't have any retired friends that like to chase chukars. The younger chukar hunters are still holding down jobs five days a week, so if I want to go during the week it's by myself. So I have to use my head. As I said I let some one know of my plans and don't deviate. Now once I'm at my hunting area I need to restrain myself from going to those unsafe places. Places like the rock cliffs, steep icy hill sides, and rock slides are areas to stay away from. As a hunter you know when it's not a safe area to access under certain weather conditions. If it's questionable stay away and hunt something different. The birds will be there for another day. If it's too dangerous for you or your dog you shouldn't be there any way. There are a few places where chukars go and should be left alone. Leave them be and hunt the huntable ones.
Chukar hunting is tough enough as it is. Leave the mountain climbing to the mountain climbers and billy goats. When I think about going to those questionable places because the chukars are there I think of my grandchildren and make the right turn to another mountain side.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
While at the sporting clays range or out on your own there are many ways to change angles, speed, and presentation of the targets. But you are always aware of where the target is coming from and when. You have two feet on the ground and have time to square your feet to the target. You still can practice your tough shots, but you are just prepared for them.
When actually hunting, you can never prepare yourself for the shot you're about to encounter. You try, but the shot very seldom presents itself like you imagine. Even when hunting behind a pointing dog who is locked on birds. There are many factors that all of a sudden can come into play.
First of all ,the birds are very seldom exactly where the dog is pointing, so it is very hard to square your shoulders to where the birds take off at. If you aren't square, the angle of your body may stop your follow through. Follow through is so important in all shooting. It is probably the biggest factor in poor shooting.
You also have to be so conscious of the surroundings. Where is your dog? Is he liable to react in a way to impede your shooting? Where are your hunting partners? Are there any other dogs that may be in the line of fire? When at the gun club you don't have to worry about these things but in the field they are always on your mind.
When the birds flush they usually flush as a group. It's hard to pick just one bird and stay with it when there are so many birds flying around. Stay with that bird throughout the shot and don't change suddenly because there is a bird that looks easier. If you change, I guarantee you'll miss 90% of the time. Make sure of your first shot. Too many times a person shoots fast so he can get a second or third shot thus missing them all. Concentrate on getting the first one first.
Down hill shots are my hardest shot. It's hard to shoot under the bird. But that's where they are going. You are not on level ground which compounds the matter. Sometimes both feet aren't on the ground.
Take your time while approaching the dog. Rushing up to the dog will only excite the dog and get you more out of breath. Move slow and calm. It not only helps your shooting it helps calm the dog so he'll hold point better.
When I approach a pointing dog I try to approach in a matter to flush the birds in a direction that might improve my odds. I know I shoot left to right crossers better than any other shot. So if possible I try to get the birds to flush that way.
Another thing I often do to try to improve my odds for a double is to shoot the bird in the back of the covey instead of the lead bird. That way after the shot and if I'm following through properly my swing is already taking me towards the next shot instead of having to hesitate for the remaining birds to catch up. The less jerky motion the better.
Age has something to do with shooting also. Especially when it comes to reflexes. I hate to admit it but I have slowed down quite a bit over the years. Many times when on down hill slopes I don't even get a shot. I'm concentrating so hard on getting my footing that by the time I get the gun up the birds are out of range. Most of the time I find it a lot better to concentrate on one good shot.
Ah! Going through slumps. It's going to happen. The more you let it bother you the longer it will last. We all go through it. We also have the times when it seems like we can't miss, although the slumps seem to come more often. Just keep shooting and things will come around.
Shooting 50% is great shooting when it comes to chukar hunting. Most people I talk to shoot about 20% of the birds they shoot at. Remember you're out there to enjoy yourself. Keep it that way.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Weight of the shotgun makes much difference when navigating the hills chukar survive in. I have two Browning 12 guage over and unders and they are two pounds different in weight. When the weather is bad and I know I'll be traveling quite a distance I take the lighter shotgun. The 20 guage is lighter than the 12 so it's even more comfortable to pack up and down the draws. The 28 guage is lighter yet, but it's pay load is also lighter. Last is the light .410 gauge.
Of course as you drop in guage you lose pellet count. Some are good enough shots they can shoot the smaller guages I just happen to not be one of them so I shoot the 12.
Pumps, autoloaders, double barrels, and single barrels all serve the purpose of a chukar hunter. The pumps and autoloaders can get you a lot more shooting in the states where more than three shells are allowed but in reality after three shells are fired usually the last two shots just fall harmlessly to the ground. I must admit that at least half of the time when shooting at chukars a sleeper will take off after I've shot my second round and opened the action.
Barrel lengths ar also a matter of preference. Short barrels are quicker but they are harder to maintain a swing through.
Both of my chukar guns are expensive for my taste but I like the way they shoot so I hunt with them. They aren't as pretty as they used to be but prettiness doesn't kill chukars. My philosophy is I bought it for hunting so use it.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I prefer to get my dogs as puppies so as to bond with them at the earliest possible time. When not involved with my family or business, I try to spend as much time with the puppy as possible. I feel the more quality time spent, the more the pup will learn to trust and depend on me. I have a few friends that have gotten hunting dogs at six months or older. They are fine hunting dogs, but they really don't care which person they're hunting for.
I also have buddies whose dogs are in kennels or kenneled yards and not allowed in the house or vehicles. Their dogs are socialized every bit as well as mine. That's just a preference thing. They love their dogs just as much as I do mine.
I hunt a lot by myself so putting them in the backseat is more comfortable for them. When someone else is along and there is not room for the dogs in the truck, they ride in their kennels.
The more time you spend with your canine partner, the more in tune you will be with him or her. They learn to trust you and you trust them. While hunting they will try to keep some type of contact with you. My dogs, even though they get out three hundred yards when conditions are right, will check in. If they go on point then they trust me to get to them.
As the alpha dog I have to remember that they do depend on me and when we are walking or hunting don't make any sudden changes in direction unless they are aware of it.
It's pretty simple. Let them know what you expect of them, and don't over expect, and with consistency they will comply because you are their leader.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Although survival rate is minimal in the wild, (3 to 8 per cent), we release most of them at the age of five weeks. The studies say that is the release age that is most effective. Some of the birds are used for training. When training we always try to train in an area where the bird has a chance of survival since most birds aren't shot.
It's amazing how soon the birds can fly. At five to six weeks they can fly quite a distance if they have been in flight pens.
One year I helped a young man, Kelly Dooms, raise pheasants for a school project. Out of 19 rooster's 11 of them survived after release for two month's. Their biggest problem was lack of fear of people. Hunting season came and the pheasants soon disappeared.
I have raised as many as 200 chukar's some year's.
Next year Emily and Megan are wanting to try Bob White quail to raise. We have plenty of habitat around my house here, so it will be interesting to see how they survive.
Monday, November 23, 2009
The importance of getting a limit is different to everyone. Some hunters even impose their own limits based on how they feel the bird populations are. I have to admit I do usually hunt for a limit. I don't always get it but hunting for a limit of birds keeps me in the field longer. If I were to come home after just being satisfied I'd turn around after my first point.
Some say it's just the dog work that's important. I agree. But part of dog work is the retrieve and my dog's love to retrieve. I hunt a lot during the chukar season but I also hunt many different locations. I try to not over hunt any location. If I hunt a place and the numbers are low I just don't hunt that area any more that year, knowing that when I go, my goal is a limit and to spend as much time hunting it takes until we are either successful or too tired to keep going.
Saying that, there have been many times when I've come home empty handed and had just as good a time as those when I came home with a limit. It's just my goal is to get a limit. To me it's no different than a golfer whose goal is to shoot even par.
A plus to hunting is shooting good. This rarely happens on chukar hunts. It's hard to similate the shots you will be taking.
You are very rarely on flat ground. The birds take off when your body is not square to the target making your swing short. You have to be aware of where your dog's are, especially when hunting multiple dogs. If you're hunting with others you also have to know where they are. Chukar hunting isn't like pheasant hunting where you all line up and push a field.
Down hill shots are my hardest shot. I have a tough time shooting under the bird, even when I tell myself to do so before the flush.
I practice a lot and there are certain shots I make easier than others, so when approaching a pointing dog I try and approach in a manner to force the birds to fly the way I shoot best. In my case it's left to right crossers.
Most practice shooting isn't done on steep chukar hills, but it can be very beneficial. Here, I'm practicing with my good friends, Jeff and Teresa, and my wife, Barbara. Not only is it practice, it's a fun outing.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Another hunter commented to me once "how do you always seem to find birds?" My answer was simple. Walk and walk more. In all the years that I can remember I can only think of one time I didn't see at least one bird. On that day, which was last year, Riley and I walked 14 miles and didn't see a bird. We had one false point and that was it. There have been plenty of times where it is hours between finds, but if you are in chukar country and you are wanting to see birds you just keep going. That is one of the beauties of chukar hunting. Understand I said one day without seeing a bird. I have plenty of days when I came home skunked.