Wednesday, August 10, 2016

partial upland forecast

I wish I could give my findings and predictions on all of the upland birds but I have to admit to being a little shorter on time this summer. Over the last week I've been getting out more and have been very pleased with results.

Last week on a camping outing I left my camera on a log while out hiking so I don't have any pictures to confirm my sightings. I hope whoever finds it enjoys my pictures of deer, elk and Sandhill Cranes.

I'll post my findings with Conner and Jake today and let you decide whether it sounds good or bad. We got up early this morning and headed for a popular upland destination for many upland hunters and after dodging a few big game animals in the head lights the sun rise showed us several covey of quail rushing off the road. It looked like most covey's had 10 or so half grown babies in them. We even saw one hen turkey with 8 big chicks with her. Conner and I decided to drive to the top and hike down, checking out of few springs. Shortly before we got to our location, Conner saw a grouse fly off the road so we decided to start our hike there and let Jake work the bird. It wasn't long and Jake was locked in. As we approached three rough's took off from the tree's and than a fourth from in front of Jake as he broke. As we started further down the hill several more birds flushed from the tree's but we didn't get a visual to get a count. As we joked with each other as to how many times we would have missed, had we been hunting, my astro  showed Jake on point again. He was deep in the brush and we figured there were more rough grouse in there when well over 30 quail started flying everywhere around us. It seemed like it went on forever as Jake pushed through the brush looking for more.

Heck, we weren't 15 minutes into our hike and had already seen plenty of birds, but not the important one. A short time later Jake bumped a blue which was followed by two straggler's. Off in the distance we could hear some chukars but had already decided on another route. The next group of tree's produced even more blues. We saw at least 4 but heard even more. Conner and I decided at that point that we would be back at this spot for a chukar warm up on some grouse. A little further down the hill a covey of chukar flushed wild about 100 yards away. We estimated about 15 birds with all the bird looking close to the same size. Jake's next point was on a solo blue surrounded by about 10 quail. As we moved down below the tree line we finally got a chukar point but was a little surprised when the pair of birds flushed with only three half grown chukars in tow. We heard some more chukars off in the distance but Jake was getting tired and had drank more than half of his water so it was time to head back up. We busted one more covey of chukar with only 6 or 8 birds before we got higher on the mountain where we found a few more blues scattered about. After three hours of walking we hit the brushy logging road and headed towards the truck. Jake was worn out but not too worn out to suddenly stop with a hind leg point. I could see two rough grouse under a tree about 20 yards ahead of him. As Conner moved in front of Jake, the birds started flushing. We counted at least a dozen birds taking off randomly and there was a mixture of both rough and blues. There were even some birds that we heard but couldn't see. Someone with a five shot auto would have easily emptied his gun.

We saw a few more quail covey's on the way out but were still in awe at how many grouse we had seen today. I'm not a big grouse hunter, but I know I saw more grouse today than I have seen in most hunting season's. So for you grouse enthusiast's, I'd give the grouse season a five out of five, and think there is lot's to be excited about. Quail would also get a five, but I always seem to see lot's of quail on this trip.

As far as the chukar I can't give an opinion yet because I haven't been in chukar country as much as usual. Tomorrow morning is supposed to be cool again before the next heat wave and Jake and are planning a trip to a chukar mountain. Hopefully will see numbers showing a successful hatch with lot's of birds. More to come.


Greg Munther said...

Wow, what a walk. I just returned from scouting my goat area. Its sort of cruel to give a 72 yo a goat permit but my longbow and I will be way up there somewhere chasing them. Today we hiked 2200 ft up to about 9600 ft. Saw several blue coveys at about 8500 and the grasshoppers were likely paying the price. A previous trip into the area yielded similar grouse results. So even here in Montana the grouse population seems to be doing fine.

Anonymous said...

keep it coming Larry. Sounds like an excellent forest grouse season may be in front of us..

larry szurgot said...

Congratulations Greg. Maybe the reason you drew that permit is because you're an old goat that hasn't figured out what old means yet. Can't wait to hear the tales.

Anonymous said...

Larry, would you care to share what elevation you were getting into the blues? I'm trying to complete a grouse slam this year and the Pioneer fire has really messed up my plan for chasing blues.

larry szurgot said...

Brian, the blues were between 4800 feet and 5200 feet. The large bunch of blue and rough grouse was real close to 5000 feet. Good luck on your slam.

Larry said...

It is exciting to read about upland birds! Thanks! Season opened here in AK 8/10. Lots of rain so far, so Annie and I have only been out one time. Got into a group of Spruce Hens and harvested just 1. Probably would have got more but I was distracted by a large patch of King Bolete mushrooms. Hope to meet you this year Larry!