Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Perfect Hunt

Hunts like the one I am about to tell you about come along very few times in life. Everything goes so well you think you're in a dream. You wake up and you're ready to hit the mountain. No driving time and you know that nobody else is here because you're at the end of the road. As the sun arises you can see off into the distance that seems to have no end, and that's in every direction. There is a definite bite to the air as you put a light jacket on under your game vest. By mid day the light dusting of snow will be melted and the jacket will be strapped on the back of your game vest which you are hoping is filled with birds.

The calmness of the morning is shortly interrupted by the excitement of dogs as the truck door is opened. The dogs waste no time checking out the terrain around the truck and fertilizing the grounds and soon have marked every spot where they think another canine might pass by. The collars come out and the dogs almost run over you waiting to get them on. Their shivering is not because of the crisp air but more from the excitement of what the collars mean. It's time to find some birds.

The truck doors are closed and the dogs are off to the mountain. You are a little slower getting going because of the beautiful surroundings you are seeing. All the different colors on the trees, the rock formations, the snow covered pine trees in the high country, the semi fog covered reservoir below, and the miles of draws that present themselves for your pleasure if you are crazy enough to hike the treacherous slopes to get to them. One last stop to listen to a distant howl of a coyote and it's time to catch up to the canines.

I think I had one of those hunts today. I'm not positive, but the visions are imbedded in my mind and all I have to do is shut my eyes to help remember the great day. The boys usually like to hunt uphill and today was no different. I could hear the chatter of chukars warning each other of the intruders on their mountain. I was sure the boys could hear their chuckles and would be off in that direction. Before long my Astro alerted me to a dog on point. I glanced down at it and saw I had 250 yards of uphill climbing to get to the point. Although the mountain was steep my energy seemed endless and I felt like I was gliding up the hill.

I crested the ridge and found Tucker locked tight. His high tail that puffed on the tip was sure sign that the birds were there. I paused for a couple of moments to take in his beauty. What a magnificent animal surrounded by the beauty of the hill. As the birds flushed I carefully picked a bird and dropped it. Everything was perfect. The shouldering of the gun along with the swing and report seemed effortless. Tucker was soon gone to find another bird after he retrieved this one to me.

Within short order my Astro was informing of another point. The distance was about the same but the elevation was a little less. The air was extremely pure because my body felt little resistance in getting to the dogs. I must have been breathing pure oxygen. I was not at all surprised to find Tucker locked up again but this time with Dakota honoring his point. What a great team the two of them make. When they're locked in like this you can bet on there being a covey of chukars. I can't tell you how many thousands of times I'd seen this in the past. As I slipped into position, Dakota broke point and slowly moved into position to triangulate the covey. He loves having the birds trapped and sometimes goes fifty yards out of his way to do so. With Tucker still locked in, Dakota finally reestablishes his point. Once again the shots seem so effortless. Almost like I'm not even firing the gun, just looking at the birds as two fall from the sky with two shots. I could tell each dog knew which bird was his as they headed down the hill and fetched them back to me. Wow! Seeing the two of them retrieving birds together is a sight I'll never get tired of. They are the best team of chukar dogs I have ever seen.

Traveling up and down the terrain was effortless. I've never felt so strong on the mountain. I was excited to see what I would encounter on the next mountain and was in a deep trance of the beauty of chukar hunting when my Astro once again showed "dog on point". With the same ease of motion I was upon two pointing dogs once again. This time my big boy, Riley, was honoring the squat point of Dakota. It would've been easy to miss Dakota if the tall Riley hadn't been standing twenty yards behind on point. Once again I effortlessly moved in positions on the two motionless dogs and watched two birds fall to the earth. One crippled and one stone dead. Riley on cue, took the dead bird and Dakota was off chasing the cripple. It must have gone 300 yards down the steep slope. I couldn't see Dakota because he was out of sight but I could hear the excited barking he exhibited while chasing cripples. Soon the noise subsided and up the hill
came Dakota bird in mouth. I couldn't believe with all the ground we had covered that we were all looking and feeling so strong. Everything was effortlessly done.

The excitement continued with yet another alert from my Astro. It had only been 15 minutes since the last point and we were heading down hill now. I can't remember the last time I moved downhill like this without one of my knee's giving me problems but it was like going down hill in soft sand. I can't tell you how wonderful it felt to get to Riley on point with Jake honoring him and I wasn't hurting. Especially with all the ground we had covered. As Riley always did, he stood tall on point, not moving a muscle. Jakes honor seemed to be in awe of the wonderful point. What a great feeling for a pup to be able to hunt with such a perfect partner as Riley. The birds flushed as I approached and just as the previous three times two birds fell to the earth. Jake was first to me with his bird and couldn't quit running circles around me showing off his bird. Riley brought his bird straight up the hill to me and placed the bird at my feet. Jake than relinquished his bird at the same spot. Never feeling or shooting this well before after a long hike I was wanting to make the hunt longer but knew with only one more bird to get I should head towards the truck.

Not far from the truck I was alerted to yet one more point. I never checked the Astro to see how far I had gone and didn't need to. I was feeling great and knew I could go forever if need be. Soon I found  Jake on point by himself with the birds a little above him. It was a beautiful point that looked more like a well seasoned dog than a ten month old puppy. He didn't move a muscle as I worked my way to his right. The birds busted and I dropped one uphill from Jake. I can't remember the last time shooting was that effortless. As I took the retrieved bird from Jake I looked up on the hill to see Tucker, Dakota, and Riley watching Jake become a hunting dog. As we loaded into the truck, Jake and I took one last look up the hill to thank God for a wonderful day.

As I awoke, Dr. Moore said the operation went just fine.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great hunt to me - you're lucky to have had so many great companions. I am planning on taking a camera out this weekend so I can share some pictures. Last weekend it was too difficult with all the ice. It was all I could do to get to the dog on point. However, the cold weather helped with some good dog work.

I hope you are recovering well.


larry szurgot said...

Things are going well for me. I can't even imagine how tough it would have been hunting in these cold conditions.
Good for you and Jack for being out there no matter how tough it is.