Monday, September 21, 2015

Yes, the chukars are out there.

After sitting out opening day to watch Conner's football game, Jake and I had our opener yesterday. It was everything I could hope for. Plenty of birds and some very good dog work.

Our last two hikes around here found Jake chasing the quail some so I was wondering how he would do on the chukar. He didn't let me down. 15 minutes into the hunt Jake pointed our first covey of young birds. Never moving a muscle, he waited until I moved in front of him for the flush.
I picked out a bird and through the ashes of past dogs it fell to the ground. Jake was quickly on the bird and made his retrieve back up the hill. It obviously was early in the morning because the flash on my camera lit his eyes up.
Shortly after this bird we found another covey and dropped our second bird from the ash and lead filled shell. At the retrieve we found a rock to sit on and show respect for past dog's. As in the past, they didn't let me down.

The rest of the morning hunt was with normal reloads and we saw more chukar's on our opener than we have seen in the past four years first time out. It looks like Jake and I are going to have an exciting year.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The opener (Jake's view)

Okay guys and gals, the opener is tomorrow. I've been listening and I feel your pains. I too, have concerns with conditioning this season. No, not the shape we are in, but the shape of our gun toting partners.

Nikki, Trudi, and Katy, I'm with you all the way. I don't know how Greg thinks he is going to keep up with you ladies when he road his mountain bike through the hills while you girls ran. I understand he was breathing pretty hard even while coasting down some of those steeper grades. Now , he's up chasing elk. How can you work the cardio system sitting and calling an animal to you? I can't wait to hear your stories about getting him back into chukar shape.

I understand Neka. John brought a new dog(Loki) into the family and the two of you have been running like crazy waiting for the season to start and now you're wondering if John is going to make it up the mountain to your points. Trust me, I'll let you know some tricks on how to get him up the hill quicker and get him back in chukar shape.

Taffy, your job is going to be a little tougher. All those grey hair's on your partner's chin are giving his age away. Your first step is to pee on his golf clubs and make them stink bad enough that he never wants to use them again.

Fergus and Aster, you also have a tough one to compete with. Two young men who are keeping dad pretty active along with his job. Don't fret, I also have some tricks to make him focus more on the chukar birds.

Lucy, we don't get to hear much from you clear over in Montana and I understand you have the same problems as Greg Allen and Jeff. A partner that has too many activities. Like Jeff, your Greg needs to find more focus on the important things.

Mays, you have the toughest job of all. It's one I don't have any experience with but we'll sit down sometime and see what we can come up with. Ptarmigan hunting in Alaska and actually having to wear a jacket sounds pretty fun to most of our hunters and convincing Al to come down to Idaho and chase chukars straight up hill in 70 degree weather will take some doing. I'll work on getting some great photo's this year in the snow and maybe that will make Al feel more at home.

Abbie, I know you also have to wait until after big game season but we'll compile enough great chukar pictures that Claire will be chomping at the bits to get you back on the mountain.
Colt, you have more than conditioning for Eddie to work on. You being a first year dog probably don't know much about rattlesnakes but Eddie does and he doesn't much care for them. The only thing that will put them away is cool wet weather. Maybe if we can show him how many birds are out there to be hunted he might put his fear of snakes aside. It's a thought.

Jack, you're competing with a new baby and that's a tough one, but I'm sure with a couple of good outings and plenty of chukars we'll have Matt huffing and puffing again.

As for me, I have the same problem as most of you guys. We've been on a few grouse hunts already this year and I have to say I'm ashamed of the Big Guys physical condition. I'm going to have to pull a lot of tricks from the play book.

So let's make a plan of attack on our hunting partners. First let's hope that they have it together mentally and bring the necessary provisions, like food and water. Oh yeah, I've seen them forget shells and even a shotgun before but that usually results in a return home for the day. When they forget food or water, we end up hunting up the hill anyway and one of us usually pay for it.

The most important part of human conditioning is right at the beginning of the days hunt. As soon as they let you out of the truck start running around all excited, like it's the first time you've ever been in a place like this. After they put your collar on, cover as much country as possible looking for birds. The steeper the country the better. I mean really cover country. If you find birds in the first fifteen minutes the rest of the job is easier. When you find the birds resist the urge to point. Bust through them and scatter them everywhere. Sure you may get a quick shock from the collar but the results will be worth it. All of the sudden the hunters will be moving uphill as fast as possible. Even though you busted only a dozen birds or so you'll be hearing them say "let's hurry and get up there, there are birds everywhere. Those busted birds just got you through the first phase of cardio training.

After they get up to the spot where you busted the birds, slow the pace a little. We don't want to kill them.  They are our ride home remember. Keep them moving as you search for birds. Hopefully, you'll find another covey soon. If so, hold this bunch tight and let the hunter shoot. He probably won't hit anything because he's out of breath but then it's time to give him a break. Humans sometimes need to regather themselves. Put on a fake retrieve and look back up at the hunter like "man a thought you hit one." If you don't find a covey right away, give a false point. The hunter might be a little disgusted with you but you will achieved your objective, a little endurance training.

The biggest asset you have to this training method is the hill. Keep them going up. Sure, you'll get the scent of some birds down hill from where you are at but avoid the urge to point and go on. Don't give any sign that you smelled birds down there. Human's legs burn more going uphill. The more they burn the better we are doing.

Don't fall for the taking a break routine that our partners try. Do little things to make them think there are chukars near by. Tweak your ears like your hearing chukars. Walk or perk your head up high and act like you see birds running uphill. Humans are sucker's and there ego to get more birds will get them right back on their feet.

Try and get the retrieve back to them as quickly as possible. They always use this time for a break. If they deserve it, give them a break, but if their just pussing out, drop the bird and head up the hill making them follow. Use the false point method if you have to.

Remember, don't hold tight on all of the covey's. It makes our shooters become complacent and they will take their time getting to you knowing you'll be holding the birds as they slowly get there. For conditioning purposes you have to keep them guessing and moving faster.

After they have had enough they usually start down hill. If you feel like they have worked enough than head back with them. If not, head up and find another covey or false point until you think they have worked enough. Remember, it's a long season, so we don't want to push it too much at first. The big thing is to get the hunter out again as soon as possible. Don't let him think too much about the pain.

Going down hill will be a good cool down period for our partners. You might give them a point or two if you find birds, but don't overdo it. They'll want to hunt down hill more often. Besides, humans trip a lot going down hill when they are tired. They have a hard time lifting their big feet. More than once I have seen the Big Guy stumble over sage brush coming down hill to my point.

Remember, even if your partner didn't do very well, be positive. You want to get back on the hill soon,don't you? Put your head in his lap and stare into his eyes like he's the most important person in the world because actually he is. Let him know how much fun you had with him or her today. Humans need affection too.

So dogs and bitches, this is the start to a fun season. I hope you all have luck with your partners and most of all have a good time. Hopefully it will be a short conditioning season and we can start working on some of their other problems, like shooting and how to approach us

Good Luck,

Sunday, September 6, 2015

And 2015 upland season has begun

A quick preview to what we're hoping the 2015 upland season is going to be like.

Of course Conner had to show off on opening day of the grouse season. He and Jake teamed up on a rough and a blue. The blue was Conner's first.
Today, while Conner is over in Oregon fishing for salmon, Jake and I headed out on our own. It rained a little yesterday and the low was in the upper 30's this morning so we were hoping for some excitement. We hunted an area that usually has some chukars with a few blue grouse mixed in and the area didn't let us down. On the way up the mountain Jake bumped a couple of large covey of chukars that sailed over the top of me, chuckling at me as they passed. They seemed to know I couldn't shoot. Although I was a little disappointed that Jake busted them, I was tickled to see two large covey of chukars this early in the hunt.

We kept heading up and it wasn't long before Jake had his first point of the season for me. Conner got to follow up the points last week.
I flushed two blues and knocked one down for Jake's first retrieve to me for the year. When Conner shoots a bird it's a race to see who get's to the bird first, Conner or Jake.
We had a little more luck with the blues, but the chukar's dominated most of the rest of the morning. Once I shot a bird, Jake figured out this wasn't a summer jaunt and got in some serious chukar time. He had point after point and I got to flush the birds and go bang, bang as I swung the bead in front of the birds and salivated.
It seemed so easy today. The birds didn't fly very far and a few times actually just crow hopped twenty yards or so in front of Jake giving him a second chance to point. They scattered over the hill and laughed at us as though they knew the season was still 13 days away.
So, if the next four months are anything like today, it's gonna be fun.