I guess I forgot how great our hunting companions are. From the first step out of the truck Jake's demeanor changed back to the chukar hunter of the past three years. Suddenly, 200 yards was his average range and at times ventured out to 300 yards. His pace was back to mach 1 and I was now hoping he wouldn't bump the birds before he got scent. I was soon reminded how well a hunting dog will adjust to the conditions given the chance.
The season opener was better than I had expected. The weather was a bit warm but an overcast sky kept the sun from beating down on Jake's brown hair and burning him out soon. We made it up the first long ridge and found our first covey of chukars. On Jake's cue, I moved in with my over and under loaded with shells of ashes from past hunting companion's and some lead. For the first time since I started this tradition, I missed the first shot but luckily knocked a young bird down on the second barrel. After Jake's retrieve we hiked over to the rock I've sat on every year since Tucker's death and gave thanks for the great hunting companions I have had.
From there we traveled further up the hill. My lungs and legs were hurting some, but the number of birds we were finding made walking through the pain a little easier. I am very excited about the 2016 season especially after seeing the number of birds we saw today. I didn't see a hun, but we some blue grouse holding tight on the hill along with the chukars to make things even better.
Every bird I got, except for the blues, were young birds pointing towards a good hatch this year.
Be careful with your dog's in this hot weather and take lot's of water. Good news, Ed, I was on the hill for 4 1/2 hours and never saw a snake. With the good number's will come more hunter's but don't despair, they will burn out soon. Their dogs don't know what our seasoned dogs do.
First retrieve of the 2016 season.