Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Between spring rains

It's a long time before the chukar opener, but there's still a lot of fun to be had on the mountain this time of the year.  First you have to be able to avoid some of these spring down pours. Being retired makes timing for that a little easier for me and gives me some pretty awesome times up there.

I know Matt Hutt and his PP Jack have been getting out on some training missions, with some success I might add, but most of the hunters haven't put their boots on since January 31st. Most hunters quit quite a while before that because the birds were harder to find. That's alright because there are lot's of other things to do outdoors besides chasing birds. But, what about your dog? Do you sometimes wonder why your dog doesn't find birds except on those years when the bird numbers are up and blame those who keep hunting them when the numbers seem down for taking too many birds? I'm not standing on a soap box right now, just defending the position I took with a good friend of mine over a cup of coffee a few days ago.

Several years back, this friend introduced his brit to chukar hunting. It was the best bird year I have ever seen. He had great success that year and was hooked, so he said. The next year wasn't quite as good and it didn't take long before he decided to kennel his dog while he fished for steelhead. The fish count was high. I understand how sportsmen feel and how many opportunities we have to be outdoors doing something different in Idaho. I just hope that ? understands that people like myself, who dedicates his or her time to one particular activity, aren't being selfish because he didn't see enough birds to keep hunting them. If the bird numbers seem down, it's because of Mother Nature, not the dedicated hunter that relentlessly chases his hounds.

With that being said, today I had another great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with Jake while ? was on his way to Riggins for some fish. What made the day even better, was, a good friend of mine, John Carter, went on a business trip to Chicago and left his GSP, Neka, with me for a few days. As I mentioned, it wasn't raining so we took the opportunity to head up on the hill. Although I have had the good fortune to hunt around Neka, I have never been able to hunt behind her, nor has Jake. So I didn't really know what to expect.

First off, these two dogs spent the whole night last night playing grab ass and again this morning but, as soon as I put the collars on them and hit the mountain they were nothing but serious. To make it worse was after about five minutes Neka busted a small covey of quail, sending her into intense hunting mode and covering the ground like a grey hound. The astro's came in very handy today, having the two dogs three hundred yards to each side of me at times. I knew that was about the far end of Jake's range but wasn't sure about Neka, but was pleased to see her return with a quick whistle from me. From that point I was just interested in honoring from both dogs.

Our first chance came with this precarious point by Jake.
I zoomed back, as Neka approached Jake's point.
 I was a little disappointed as she didn't seem to acknowledge Jake's point and then the bird flushed. If you look hard you can see the bird taking off from the sage above them.
It's hard to know why she didn't back or if she even saw Jake. That's what's so much fun about being out with the dogs hunting and observing them. Trying to figure out what makes it work. Learning experience number one was gone with that pair of chukar.
The great thing about huns and chukars pairing up (every bird we saw today was paired) is that they try to get distance between each others pair. So, instead of finding a covey every half hour or so, you find a pair. It wasn't too long and Jake was caught honoring Neka but the birds flushed while I was moving into position to take the picture. Shortly after that my astro says both dogs on point. I was excited to see what was over the horizon. Neka has it figured out with a great honor.
Both dogs held well to my flush. But, just like with the gun, I was behind with the camera.
Throughout the day I never had another honor by Jake but had a couple by Neka, including a sitting honor.
The dogs put in 38 miles between the two of them and I had five fun filled miles, with points like this one from Neka,
 and this one of Jake.
I try and get in front of my dogs when shooting a gun or camera. Taking my time and trying to be calm helps the dog hold the birds. As I looked back at the series of pictures of Jake on this point I noticed in the background another hobby I like doing this time of the year. Finding sheds. I didn't see this one while I was on the hill but it is obvious in the above picture and this one.
Jake and I have been out at least 8 times since the season end and again with Neka today. Both dogs are laying here pretty tired right now, but with luck we'll be back out somewhere Friday for one last jaunt together before John retrieves Neka. It's such a great time to be out there if the rain allows and it's not harming the birds at all right now. We usually give them a break about the 15th of April to start nesting and laying eggs and hope that Mother Nature cooperates for the next three months. My friend who is up fishing right now might not think I'm doing the right thing, but Jake thinks I'm the best.


Anonymous said...

Larry, I agree when bird numbers are down people give up too easy. I would add that mediocre dogs have a hard time finding birds in low years, so you may see plenty of birds to fill your season where others will find few and that would miscue the perception on bird numbers. Great post as always thanks for extending my season through words and photos. Josh M

larry szurgot said...

Thanks Josh.You explained in two sentences what I was trying to explain for an hour over a cup of coffee.

Unknown said...

Glad you got the two dogs out for a good run and hunt. Seeing that the dogs get out for a run is a 12month job. I always feel guilty if I don't get mine out on a regular basis. I will try to find some ptarmigan this Sun.Our last trip out Kate got some pictures but we found no birds. The season is open till March 31st and the weather has been as good as I've ever seen it.Love those pictures.Bet those two enjoyed being together.

larry szurgot said...

Kate's a pretty lucky dog. Great owner, long season and lot's of beach front. Can't ask for much more. Our early spring has been pretty decent also, giving me plenty of time to be on the mountain. Neka and Jake are having a great time together. Having never been together they have done well not to break too many objects in the house yet and for the first time hunting together I was super pleased the way they shared the mountain.

larry szurgot said...

Alan, my apologies to Kate. That's suppose to be Mays is a pretty lucky dog. Chukar hunters don't claim to be very smart.

Unknown said...

If I could just get Kate to honor Mays on point. Kate has learned to flush but I can't talk her in to carrying a gun. I will keep trying to train her but I doubt if she will take direction from me. You probably know what I mean.