Friday, August 15, 2014

Aug. 15

After getting messages from Matt in Boise, Alan in Alaska, Jeff in Oregon and Jordan in Utah wondering where I had slithered off to, I thought it might be time to hook up with the chukar world again, In all honesty, because of the heat this summer, I haven't been out as much as I have been the past several years. Since Jake doesn't like to swim, he is a testament to my laziness. This is the first time I have ever not been able to see the ribs on one of my shorthairs. Jake weighs about 70 right now and prime is between 60 and 65 lbs. for him.

I wish I could figure out how to post Alan's pictures. He and his daughter flew into a spot in Alaska to hunt ptarmigan with his dog Mays. Looks like an awesome hunt and I'm very envious of them being able to hunt already. Congrats on what looks to have been a great trip.

My optimism for the chukar year has gone from pretty thrilled to not so good to back to thrilled again. I saw plenty of breeding pairs in the spring and figured there would be plenty of little ones coming from them due to the weather we were having. I also saw loads of insects for them to mature on so I was pretty positive.

Then I went out towards the end of July and Jake and I didn't find that many covey's and the ones we saw were small. Most of the chicks were more mature than I expected and the small numbers indicated that maybe the hatch wasn't so good.

Then came the cooler weather and rain. By cooler I mean high's in the low 80's and 60 degrees starting up the mountain. But, it was obvious what Jake needed. In the two days we found at least 10 covey's and all of them had at least a dozen birds. Grasshoppers were everywhere so malnutrition shouldn't be a problem. The only down point I saw was one of the areas we went to usually has blue grouse also and we saw one single and later another one with only one half grown chick flying off with her.

Another great sign this week was the quail. I haven't seen the quail around my house at all this summer. Yesterday afternoon when I got back from my trip over towards Oregon, Jake and I found about 30 quail of all sizes in the front yard. I guess Jake figures the yard is his turf and he doesn't have to point because with one leap from the truck he had them scattered everywhere.

After that I loaded Jake back up for a ride down a local road that I know usually has quail so I could see if there were many. I wasn't disappointed and within a couple of minutes was looking at 30 or so chicks about 4 weeks old and 4 adults. I wish I would have taken my camera. While I was looking at the birds a tall, skinny, and bushy tailed fox walked out on the road between my truck and the quail. He knew I was there but didn't care. He walked towards the quail and I thought there might be some excitement, but was surprised when he turned about five yards from the birds and went back into the brush and crossed the creek. The quail hardly even looked up from their snack's on the dirt road.

Anyhow, I think the year is shaping up for the upland birds. It seems like many chukar hunters hibernate after January and wake up about November, so it's hard to find much information this time of the year. Some of us and our dog's live it every day of the year, even if it's only communicating over the internet. I hope everyone's dog's have summered well and are ready for the upcoming season. I'm looking forward to some pictures of hunts and hope to be able to figure out how to post them.

Fifteen days from now, weather permitting, we will be able to join Alan in Alaska and put our dog's on the ground chasing grouse. Twenty days after that we'll be able to chase the birds of my choice on those cooler mornings.

Good luck to everyone and send me some good stories.


Anonymous said...

Glad you got the pictures.I wish I could tell you how to load them. It would only let me e-mail them.I'm surprised they made it to you. By the way Mays rode backwards on the float plane back to Homer. I couldn't get him to face forward. Must be a shorthair thing. Glad to hear from you.We got your attention now. Good hunting to you.I'm planning another trip.Say Hi to Jake.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear from you Larry. You are not alone, Jack and I have spent very little time in the hills this summer. He prefers spending these hot days in the water. The only downside is that he has bummed a foot and shoulder this summer (he seems more susceptible to injury jumping into the river than he does jumping around on rocks on the chukar slopes).

Based on the weather, vegetation, insects, and quail, I am still hopeful for a good year!

Best regards,

Anonymous said...

Seeing chicks over the 4th of july peaked my interest when I commented to your early July post. Scouting, Sunday August 18th. Same route every year for 15 years. 2014offered low brood stock, I saw some good to very good hatches and the survey # came out very similar (slightly higher) to 2012 survey, but below 2011. All hatches appeared to be late May/early June, 1st hatch broods, large birds today, and loads of Grasshoppers, tall grass and sage brush for cover. In my opinion, a good improvement from last year. I would call 2014 Average # of birds basis the past 15 years of surveys.

larry szurgot said...

Thanks for your comments. Especially that you see an improvement over last year. Not too many people take an effort to scout this time of the year. I'm sure you'll have a successful and fun 2014 on the mountain. Good Luck.

Anonymous said...

Oregon chukar survey up 135% from 2013. Average brood 11.5. We are on the right track.

larry szurgot said...

That's good news. Thank you.