Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What just happened?

Just like in many other things in life, just when you think you have it figured out something comes out and bites you in the butt. That's how my hunt went today.

It was raining a little, but not hard enough to keep Jake and I off the mountain. There was barely a breeze out but the way Jake took off covering the mountain I knew it wouldn't be long before he found some chukars. About 1/2 hour into the hunt I watched him get a little birdy up the mountain and headed that way anticipating a point shortly. Suddenly five birds flushed from the sage Jake had just walked past. Like has happened maybe too often in the past I decided to shoot one of the chukars. As Jake raced down the hill and made the retrieve I watched several other birds fly from further up the hill and circle the ridge.

Heading that way and anticipating some good dog work and shooting I was excited about having this kind of action so early in the hunt. That anticipation shortly turned into "what the heck is going on here?" As Jake disappeared over the ridge birds started flying over my head in groups of one to 10. Behind them would be Jake looking down at me like, "hey did you see those? . By the time I reached his elevation he was hustling through the cheat with his nose to the ground making sure he hadn't missed any. He had, and as he ran right into it, the chukar flew right over my head as if it knew I wasn't going to shoot. Jake didn't even try and point.

Usually I trust Jake to go over the hill ahead of me, find the birds and point them them until I approach and flush. Obviously, he had a brief problem with the pointing part. The briefness continued over the next three ridges. I can't remember seeing as many flushed birds as I saw today. It seemed like Jake had found a new game of how many chukars can I chase over the Big Guy's head. Every time he crested back over the ridge to see if I was going to shoot and then head back for more.

I was using the rain as an excuse. Rain will knock a lot of the scent down but he was busting enough birds that I couldn't really fall for that. Finally, he locked on point and I hoped we might put it together. As I approached him from the side and tried to position myself for a downhill shot Jake broke and chased the single up. Wanting to shoot badly, common sense finally sunk in and I slid the safety back into position. Jake gave a ten yard chase and came back looking for more birds.

This went on for about 2 more hours and I decided to head back towards the truck. I was getting a little upset and I knew that it would be better if I just let the day go and maybe we could get back to the old routine the next time out. Several more times Jake pushed birds up ahead of me. Finally about 200 yards above the truck Jake locked up again. This time he held point as I moved below him for the flush. Everything went as planned except, at the report of both barrels, the chukar  and buddies flew across the canyon. Jake gave a short 20 yard chase and than looked back up at me and wondered if I would really throw my shotgun.

I have no explanation of what happened to Jake today except to say he just had a bad day. I still have to wonder was the rainy weather part of the problem. Could me shooting at that first flushed covey been part of the problem, coupled with Conner shooting at a few flushed coveys this weekend? At 14 years old, who wouldn't?

Maybe it was Jake's way of getting me out tomorrow. He could think I need two days of conditioning. You know, I think that's it. We'll just have to go chukar hunting again tomorrow. Darn.


Anonymous said...

It's amazing how hard it is to stay mad for long. I remember many of those hunts with Jack where I felt like ringing his neck - not because I didn't get birds but because I wondered what in the hell he was doing. By the time we would get back to the truck I came up with enough excuses to move on and tell him how good of a dog he was the whole ride back home.

With all the technology we have, it would be interesting to have a camera with our dogs to see if it provided any more insight. Maybe it is what the birds are doing as much as it is our dogs?

Sounds like it is a good year for chukar. I hope you keep enjoying it.


larry szurgot said...

Good to hear from you Matt. Jack would have loved this year. Keep in touch.

Lord Mountbatten said...

Your scenario is too familiar, Larry. My dogs seem to go in streaks: they'll hold birds forever at great distance, and then they'll bust everything in the county. Maybe the rain made the birds jumpier, which caused Jake to jump and bust 'em. It sounds like you have a good handle on it, and I bet the next time you go out, your stellar dog amazes you with his perfection.

Anonymous said...

oh yes,had some days like that.Jake was having one of those male moments. I think he was out of control to help you appreciate the good days.Letting you know who the most valuable player is. Good excuse to go hunting the next day. Maybe Barb will buy it....Keep having fun!
Alan,Mays and the Setter