Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Staying in chukar hunting condition

It seems like every year about this time I get questions from my family concerning my senility. My kids are both health nuts and spend hours at the gym and my wife has her little home gym she likes to use. Me, well I'm a fool and just go back out in the wind, rain, snow, or shine and walk the hills. It doesn't make much sense to them.
I graduated from Boise State in the early 70s and used a track scholarship to pay my way. I was a sprinter and know all the benefits of weight training, running the steps, and all of the other activities involved with being an athlete. As I aged I continued working out and joining the local gym, playing basketball, racquetball, walking on the stair stepper and so on. I quit playing basketball at 44 because my back would ache the morning after and it was getting harder to roll out of bed to get to work. It occurred a couple of years after that when Tucker came along that I didn't have time to work, go to the gym, spend time with the family, and work my dog. Something had to go and it was the gym. That seemed the smart thing to do since my knees and back were starting to feel the effects of climbing ladders all day at work and then going to the gym.
Since that time I have made the outdoors my gym. I kill two birds with one stone. Work my dogs and also work myself. At first I only could get a couple of times a week because of my job or family responsibilities but now that I am semi retired I make sure to get out four times a week depending on the weather. My only rule is that I have to go at least four miles or 2000 feet in elevation to consider it a work out. I still stretch every day and maybe do a set of crunches and push ups now and then but I can't find any excitement about going back to the traditional work outs.
Of course while I'm out I have to respect the others that are out there and give them their space.
The elk are in a critical stage. In three months they will be calving so they need to save as much energy as possible. I always leave these areas immediately, and hopefully don't disturb the deer or elk.
My boys always find some treats to show off a long the trail.

I also try and go a different area each time I wander off. The reasons are obvious. Not only does it add to the excitement it allows me to find new places to hunt or maybe not to hunt. For those who like working out at the gym, let's call it sizing up the opponent. In this case the opponent is the hill. I use to watch an opposing player in a racquetball tournament before our match would come up. Now I walk the hills to see what opportunities it might present. I look for a lot of this kind of sign.
As I mentioned as I'm huffing and puffing up the hills and getting that burning feeling in my legs and chest I get to do a little training. I always dress my boys in full combat gear the same as me. The only thing different is I'm not carrying a shotgun and shells which takes about 9 or ten 10 pounds off. I make sure everyone gets their turn at pointing and honoring.

After the boys have made it clear that they know what they are doing I take advantage and move out front with the camera. Since it is taking the place of my gun I find what kind of a shot I am. As you see I need to get a lot more lead on this pair of huns.
I shot over the top of this chukar. Maybe this relates to why I only shoot 60% at chukars and have to spend a little more time at the sporting clays course.
The end result is I really enjoy my work out. Just like a snow skier can't wait for the next time he hits the mountain, a tennis player looks forwards to tomorrows match, hockey player waits for his next game, or the gym enthusiast can't wait to get on his treadmill, I look forward to each day I can get on the mountain with my dogs. Another month from now I will start scouting out for turkey season. My dogs will be along since we are only looking for birds and sign. When the season opens they will be missing the days I hunt but I make a point of making sure I still get them out at least twice a week.
At 60 years of age, the only thing I find hard about my training method is the first half hour. The body seems to take a little longer to get the lube in the right places, but once it is lubed I can go anywhere I did at 30. It takes a little more time than going to the gym a mile a way and you don't get to turn the T.V. on during your work out to see what's happening in Egypt, but the view you get is spectacular.

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