Sunday, January 31, 2016

Season End.

Another year of chasing chukars has come and gone. As usual, I was once again educated by the birds. It seems like every year I think I have them figured out and then they either have moved to new locations or learned a new tactic to make me look like a fool. Thank God for bird dogs. They are the one thing on the mountain that makes chukar hunters look like they have any sanity at all. I have to say that Jake definitely showed me the way this year.

The beginning of Jake's third year had me questioning his abilities. After two good seasons, he began this year busting many birds. I believe it was because there were so many more birds this year than the last two. He couldn't handle the numbers at first but  adjusted and it soon became clear that all I needed to do was follow his lead and shoot well and we'd be eating good. The shooting part let us both down more this year than in the past. The following his lead part was fine until the last part of the season. The deeper snow and frozen hillsides slowed me, but not Jake, and also hurt my shooting percentage even further.

I'm giving up on trying to figure out what makes chukar thrive one year and be down the next. I've kept records for over twenty years and nothing makes sense. The only constant is that there is no constant and chukar numbers fluctuate from year to year about like my shooting success. The one thing that is going to keep chukar  populations healthy is where they live. Most people have no use for where the chukar lives so that land will be public for a long time. The one thing I can tell the young chukar hunters of today is, "don't listen to us old chukar hunters when we tell you about the good old days". Chukar numbers rise and fall and, at some point in our life, we get too old to chase them as hard. It becomes easier to say, " it's not like the old days" than it is to say, " I just can't walk those hills the way I used to."

I can remember great years and slack years in every decade since the 70's and I remember great years as late as 2010. This year was about average for me but I think we're on the verge of having another great one. So give your dogs a little break and then get them out for some great spring training and ready for next year.

Here are some pictures of the last few weeks on the mountain. Jake and I had a great time. Jake probably more than me watching me struggle to stay on the mountainsides. They are probably redundant to most readers but place your dog in the pictures and you'll have an idea of what to expect next year.

Jake telling me there are some birds under this fresh snow somewhere.
Jake taking me to the top on a frosted morning.
My favorite point of the year. It was snowing hard and the birds stuck like glue. Jake was actually in the middle of the birds.
I got my only triple of the season. The birds took off slow enough to let me reload my over and under.
Another point.
The intensity here told me I better not miss.
Jake styling some, except for the ears.
Pointing with a little less style.
Jake retrieving a bird on top where most birds were. He could walk on the crusted snow but I broke through.
A little more fun retrieve down closer to the road.
One more retrieve in the snow to remember January by.
Good bye for this year and hope to see some of you next year.


Larry said...

Thanks Jake and Larry for sharing your season with us! Hope to see you next year!

larry szurgot said...

Thanks Larry.

That's the one thing I didn't get enough of this year. Sharing a campground with other bird hunters. Hopefully our timing will be better next year.

Pete said...

Larry - did the uplandidaho site go dark? Haven't been on it in a while but I noticed recently it doesn't seem to exist any more.

BTW, great photos. I am super jealous. Drought here in SoCal has really hurt our upland birds, especially chukar. Happy for El Nino!
~Pete B

larry szurgot said...


I believe the uplandidaho site is gone for good. I and a couple of others have tried to reach Karl with no results.

Thank you for the compliments on the photo's. Hopefully El Nino will give California the right ingredients for a booming chukar population. It doesn't take too much to get that boost needed.

The Noisy Plume said...

Thanks for sharing your season with us. I always look forward to checking your blog and seeing if it has been updated. I really appreciate all the time you put into this site!

You mentioned that this year was an average year and the last great year was 2010. I am curious on how you rated each year since then --- it would be fun to compare my notes with yours. I didn't start seriously hunting chukar until 2010 and my notes do record seeing numbers, in particular areas, that I have never seen since. I have managed to increase my total number of chukar harvested every year since 2010 but I believe that has been the result of my "figuring things out" and an increase in effort more than anything. As always I love your optimism and it makes me giddy with excitment for a great year if what I have been experiencing have only been average years.

Thanks again for sharing



Pete said...


Thanks. That's too bad - it was a nice site and it always got me excited about the possibility of one day hunting chukar in Idaho.

Sure hope you're right about El Nino. So far so good, but I just don't know if there are enough holdover birds to allow us to have a good year next season. Maybe we can have 2 El Nino years in a row...


larry szurgot said...


Thank you very much for the kind words. As you mentioned, 2010 was the best year I ever had. 2011 was almost as good with 2012 above average. The next two years were definitely below average for me but that could be because it was the first years I didn't have a seasoned dog on the job. Jake wasn't fortunate enough to hunt with an older dog and had to learn it on his own. This year came back pretty good and that could be because of Jake's figuring out how to find birds, which he did real well.

I've kept records for the last twenty years which included miles per bird, birds per hour, birds per day, elevation per bird, dog miles per bird (since Astro came out), shots fired (not a good idea), lost birds, weather, location, and even two years cost per bird which wasn't a good thing either. It has been fun and interesting to see how the chukar numbers fluctuate without much intervention from us.

Good luck in the years to come.

Unknown said...

Jake is one good looking dog. Glad to hear you guys had a great end to the season.

-Matt & Jack

Unknown said...

Always love to read about your adventures. They always get me excited for our next hunt. I am now in withdrawals after the season end. Ended with 10 straight days in S. Idaho. My body is tired but my dog Boog still wants to go. 9 more months. Thanks again for the great stories and pics.

larry szurgot said...

OUCH! Ten straight days would put me in traction. Congratulations to you and Boog and good luck in years to come.

Thanks for the kind words.

Anonymous said...

Great Post Larry! Really like the picture of you and Jake with the shadows. That picture says so much about you and your dog. What a great year you had together. Get that dog a big cinnamon roll. He deserves it.
Alan and Mays and the setter.