Thursday, January 26, 2012

The two hour rule

It's pouring rain outside right now and supposed to keep it up most of the day so I have decided to take one of the last six days of the season off. I know, you can't get em if your not out there but a steady rain is not one of my favorite times to hunt. I don't know how productive it would be because I'm too much of a wuss to get out in these conditions and find out. So, Riley and I are sitting here planning the last five days of the season.

Last night I was at the Idaho Fish and Game open house meeting to discuss rule changes on the upland bird seasons. I visited with several fellow chukar hunters, several commissioners, and the bird biologist for the F&G, Jeff Knetter. My discussion with Jeff prompted me to write about my "Two Hour Rule". The past two years I have been participating with the F&G's bird wing program. He said I turn in more bird wings than  anyone else and I and  a few other hunters were definitely above the norm when it comes to success.

I have hunted with Jeff a few times and he has two great dogs. They have a little longer tails and hair than I care to take care of but I have seen them hunt and they are definitely great chukar dogs. Excuse my spelling, but they are of the Munsterlunder breed and are great bird dogs. I have hunted with several others that have great dogs of many different breeds and although I'm partial to my boys, there is very little bird finding potential between most of them. So having a good dog is not the only answer.

Anyone foolish enough to pursue chukars on a regular base has to be in descent shape and it's not real tough to know where the good chukar country is so why are some people more successful than others?

First off, I'm semi retired, which gives me more than my fair share of time to pursue chukars. That is not only during the season but off season also. I have given up almost all other hunting activities due to my love of my dogs and chasing the chukar allectoris. I try to be in chukar country most of the year with my dogs. I usually stay away and Turkey hunt during the nesting season but am back on the hill when I feel the birds are big enough to handle a little dog work.

Secondly, my dogs only hunt chukars and huns. I don't know if that really makes a difference but I feel like in work there are people that are jack of all trades and master of none and dog's are pretty much the same when it comes to different birds. A great example was last year I dabbled in hunting grouse with Riley. He did a good job but when the chukar season began he was spending as much time running to the nearest draw looking up in the trees or bushes for a perched grouse as he was looking for chukars. The same goes for quail. The way they usually are in big coveys under the brush and scurry around making there little sounds makes it pretty tough on a pointing dog. It also makes it tough on the hunter who has trained his pointing dog to hold until he flushes the birds. You don't get much shooting as you walk into the thorny cover and the birds finally scoot.

More than the fore mentioned reasons for some being more successful than others is what I call "The Two Hour Rule". It's a simple rule. You just have to prepared to be on the hill for two hours before you get your first shot at a chukar. I'm not saying it always happens that way, but many times that is what might happen. Most hunters give up way too soon. If they haven't found birds within the first hour or two they are back at the truck and driving to a new destination or taking out the fishing pole. When I chukar hunt the truck is parked and I am prepared to hunt that area for the day. Driving time is just waisted hunting time. There have been many times that I have walked for a couple of hours or more and never had a point or seen a bird. I often start feeling like it's going to be a bad bird day and then I remind myself of the words of a hunting partner of mine, Tom Thorpe, who passed away from cancer. You Gotta Believe.

Believing that it's gonna happen and  pushing on  usually makes it happen. Suddenly you are into the birds and the previous two hours of hiking the chukar mountains pays off. In the next hour you have more points and shots than you could have imagined happening because it's been so slow up until now. After you have either got x number of birds or depleted the shells in your vest you start your return journey to the rig. Usually it doesn't take as long on the return trip because your mind is consumed with the recent memories of great points and shots or maybe with discuss in how one person can miss so many easy shots after a dog works so hard to get you to that point. Either way you make it back to the truck with your trusty companion.

As you drive home with a tired dog sleeping in the passenger seat, also appropriately known as sitting shotgun, you plan your next hunt and wonder if the "Two Hour Rule" is going to apply again on that hunt. Are the birds going to be two hours away from the truck? Probably, so be prepared to suck it up, your canine partner is.


scottinohio said...

Larry,keep the tips coming,for us newbies. Scotty

Karl said...

Larry I have the same rule only couched in a phrase that is applicable to many forms of hunting and fishing; "He who walks the furthest wins". This isn't just about walking. The same can be said for being willing to cross a river, get in a boat or drive the extra miles to get to where the birds are. Your river crossing which most people aren't willing to do is the first 2 hours to get up high. It's simply that extra effort that separates casual hunters from serious ones, no matter what the obstacle is.

larry szurgot said...

Karl, Perfectly put.