Tuesday, February 11, 2014

State of the Chukar address

Even with the bird season ending 11 days ago, I find myself walking the mountains with Jake on these good weather days. With a camera in hand, instead of a shotgun, we search for chukars that eluded us during the season. The bird numbers seemed down some to me this year and I was curious to see how this years after- season numbers compare to past February bird numbers. I have three different spots I go to each February and do a bird count along with taking some pictures of Jake, who never disappoints me with his thirst to find birds.
This is the State of the Chukar address instead of the State of the Union we had last month and hopefully a little more honest. Surprisingly, I saw more birds today than any of the past five years in this area in the month of February. All the birds, including huns, were in coveys. The coveys were no bigger than in the past, but I saw more coveys. Usually some of the huns are pairing up in February. But I found no pairs, but three coveys of five or more birds. The smallest covey of chukar I found was seven.
 I hunted this same area on the 30th day of December and saw half the number of birds that I found today, but there was 3 inches of new snow that day. As usual, I didn't see a bird for the first hour and a half. In fact, I didn't see a deer, coyote, or any other animal. The hills seemed almost dead without any movements or sounds. Finally, my Astro beeped that Jake was on point 163 yards away. I followed the compass to Jake and flushed a covey of 7 chukars.
From that point on we found chukar and hun droppings scattered almost everywhere. Jake had at least 10 points in the next hour and a half and 8 of them were definitely different coveys.
So, what does this mean to us chukar hunters? Probably not a damn thing, but just like our president does, I'll make up my own ideas as if they were the gospel truth. First off, there seem to be as many birds out there for breeding purposes as in the past. Probably because of the lack of participating by most bird hunters. Many of my friends who hunt chukars a dozen or more times a year only got out once or twice because they saw few birds and heard about the low numbers. They spent a little more time duck hunting and fishing. I'm sure many others decided it was too hard of work for too few birds, also proving that hunters self regulate hunting hours on low bird number years. Second,by the birds I got at the end of the season and the look of the birds I saw today, the birds are going into the spring in pretty good shape. Third, the grass is already green in many places which will help the birds get the nutrition they need for nesting success.

Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and start putting more moisture on the ground in the next few months and then taper off into the summer. If we can keep some decent green up during the summer, the insects will flourish and so will the chukar/hun chicks. We have a good base for a decent season next year, if mother nature cooperates.

Thank you for reading and God Bless Chukar Hunters and their Dogs.


Anonymous said...

Jake is one heck of a good looking dog. Glad to hear that you saw a lot of birds. Over the next few months, I will find myself watching the weather with obsession hoping that we get rain at the right times. I look forward to hearing about more of your scouting reports. It is particulary interesting hearing about your findings since you have such a great database of prior-year information. Glad to see you are getting out there.

Anonymous said...

The misniaMan,that Jake is going to be quite the chukar dog. Glad the numbers of birds are there and I hope they have a great nesting season.I will try to get out for some ptarmigan Sun. It is really hit and miss plus we got new snow so it may be tougher walking. I have a sore back but the knee is good. It turned cold about 5 degrees this morning.We still go to the beach but don't stay as long. Business continues slow.
Take care Larry.

larry szurgot said...

Thanks for the kind words, Matt. Like you, and many other upland hunters, I'll be hoping the weather cooperates in the next six months to bring a bumper crop of birds. No matter what happens, I'm sure you'll be out there with Jack and I'll be out there with Jake letting the birds no we haven't given up on them.