Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Chukar Country

Unlike most people, I don't have another hobby outside of hunting. And although I hunt a variety of animals at times, if I had only one species to hunt, it would be the chukar. Not just because chukars are the ultimate bird to hunt with a good pointing dog, but equally as much because of the country they inhabit.

Chukar country can be very challenging no matter what time of the year you decide to hike in it. It can have temperatures in the negative degrees and get over 100 in the summer months. There is very little perfect time to be on the mountain because it invites all different weather patterns which can change just by going over the mountain. It encompasses all types of terrain from rock slides to rock cliffs, steep cheat grass hills to rolling sagebrush tops, and bare hills to lush green canyons.. The one thing chukar country doesn't have is hiking trails. You might find some game trails to follow for fifty yards or so before they disappear but then you'll have to side hill on the steep slope until you find another that might take you the next fifty or so yards.

Most people don't care to be in chukar country unless they are hunting something and there are plenty of somethings to hunt besides chukar where they reside. After the general deer and elk seasons, the number of people on the mountain diminishes quickly. The only people left in the hard core chukar country are the hard core chukar hunters. Not because they are any tougher or smarter than anyone else, but because they love hunting chukars with their canine partners. There are a lot of other chukar hunters still hunting, but most of them are just trying to enjoy a hunt in between their seasons and that is what is available. Most of those people won't go to the extent of  traveling four miles before getting a shot because it's not a priority and they find enough birds in the easier places. Maybe they're smarter than us die hards.

The weather is warming up and a good many people are starting to fish the lakes and go up north for steelhead. While they are enjoying that, I'm up on the hill enjoying the solitude of chukar country. I'm covering the mountain sides I couldn't get to two months ago.
On the back side of this mountain is a beautiful draw that looked like this a few months before the big snow came.
I'm so looking forward to that time of the year when I will be returning to this area with a gun in my hand and Jake leading the way. Between now and then, Jake and I will make a couple of spring/summer trips and check out that special place that only he and I know (right) where the hill flattens out some and my shooting percentage rises a little.
We all have a special place like this with the name no tell em ridge. Jake and I have been traveling to chukar country quite a bit since the first of February when the weather finally gave us a chance to actually walk in it. Many of the places were still locking us out with long snow drifts that forbid me from crossing but we're now able to get to all of our hunting spots and I have to say the animals did much better than I thought they might. I figured the chukars and huns might do well because the majority of them usually find that high blown off ridge to get feed from and hide from the predators. Those that moved down into the valley's struggled more with the snow staying almost a month longer than the southern steep slopes.

Jake and I have been in the mountains quite a number of times since Feb. 1 and have yet to see another person on the hill. That is besides my grandson, Conner who is as mentally stable as me.
He has been coming home with a back pack full of sheds each trip we take together. Meanwhile, Jake is having the time of his life. He is finding so many birds he is tiring out by the end of our jaunt and in this case I found him on point from the sitting position.
He had gone 24 miles already that day and 16 miles the day before so I forgave him for such a classless point which produced another pair of chukars.
I'm getting better with my camera and have finally got several pictures of the birds flushing. The secret is just aim the camera towards the flushing birds and push the button. When I get home I look through the pictures and see if the birds are in the frame. It's kind of like how I shoot a shot gun, point the gun, close my eyes and pull the trigger. If Jake goes after a dead bird than I know I was successful.

Chukar hills are full of game animals any time of the year we venture out in them. Here are some other creatures we're seeing. This pair of huns is one of many we are seeing now.
We weren't seeing many earlier but are now seeing quite a few pairs. Some of the chukars are still in covey's but I have only seen paired huns. Jake has also pointed a half dozen blue grouse so far this year.
This ruff didn't let Jake point but flew up into a tree and acted like he had never seen a human or dog.
It's a little early  to find any nest but we found the remains of an old chukar nest from last year and I'm crossing my finger that she will be back this year with twenty or so eggs to sit on.
As I mentioned, it seems like the big game did a lot better than I thought they would do. I have found very few winter killed animals on the mountain. The closer to the valleys, the more dead animals found. To those who wonder if we're pressuring the big game animals, no we are not. Chukar country is big and it's easy to observe the deer and elk while giving them lot's of room. 
The elk have done very well and we've seen them running around and playing already.
But in case one of the deer or elk don't make it through the hard times this guy is ready and willing to clean them up.
Add the sounds we hear when we're high on the mountain, like the snow geese and Canadians heading back north, or the sand hill cranes and even some trumpeter swans, along with the chatter of chukars, it's easy to see why I stay so positive about  our future on the mountain. Chukar country is good for my soul.


Larry said...

Great article and pictures! Thanks!

Hanson said...

Thanks for the update. Glad to hear that the worst of the winter is behind us. Like a nerd, I have been checking ID snow levels daily at

The birds are not out of the woods in some areas, but the strong March sun helps a lot.

All most of us ask for is an AVERAGE bird season. Hopefully, a good hatch will provide that.

Dave s said...

Larry, good to see you getting out. Are you still seeing decent numbers of birds? Are they consistent across different areas or spotty.

larry szurgot said...

David, the number of birds is pretty consistent everywhere I've gone. I have several places in eastern Oregon and western Idaho I like to check out and they have all looked promising. I'm going over to the Lucky Peak area this week and take a hike. I also haven't been to Malheur county or the Owhyees yet this spring but am looking forward to seeing how the animals did over there.

Thom Gordon said...

Way to go there, Amigo. This is the time of year that the birds are pairing up and the last thing they need is you and your dog interrupting their start of procreation.

You need to hang up this bird harassment and while you're at it, Chico, hang up this blog

larry szurgot said...

Sorry you feel this way Thom. If the amount of harassment I give wildlife causes a loss of procreation time I'm amazed the different species even survived. Maybe if I went to the same place time and time again I might have an impact but I love and will continue to love going to lot's of different places. I know some groups are more interested in the legislative procedures at this time of the year and would rather be figuring out a way of having the wildlife of their choice tied to a tree for easy access come hunting season but I'm tickled with the way things are and will continue finding any excuse I can to enjoy being out in chukar country.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Thom alias Quill Gordon is once again mixing booze and his bipolar meds. Why don't you go fuck off, Gordon and take your circle jerk back to Upland Journal where the pretenders can ooh and aww over stupid pics

James T said...

Never fails there is always some holier then though self acclaimed moral authority like Thom. I don't know how we all survived with out the advice oh that's right we just ignored it. I think there is only one thing that needs hanging up Gordon. Were getting a few nice days down here in Nevada Larry got out the other day saw a few Birds 2 small groups didn't have to go far, things are getting green lots of food good for the birds. Have fun Looks good up there.


So prey species tend to ignore predators until they pose a real threat. Check out videos of the lions and wildebeest on the plains of Africa. Larry, thanks for the photos and commentary. Keep it coming!

Anonymous said...

yea.....FUCK YOU ThomGordon-Thom Gordon-Quill Gordon-Quill GordonI and whatever stupid handle you've used on the boards over the years. Internet sociopaths and serious bird hunting discussions just plain don't mix, Bro!

Anonymous said...

Mr Szurgot I have read with interest your recent post regarding training dogs on Wild birds during nesting periods. Rather then to get into any name calling or comparing one hunters love of the sport to another's as a few of your supporters choose to do I simplified things by speaking with the IDFG and what you are doing is not legal as it is also not legal in Oregon, check page 29 Oregon game bird regs. I have also provided IDFG with your blog site and also your address and phone number so if you choose you may make your case with them, I'm sure they will be contacting you. To finish if you or your few supporters want to begin the name calling so be it but please don't down play myself or the other hunters who choose to obey the law. You may want to check out Idaho title 36, 36-202 paragraph J. Happy hunting for you and your dog in the future seasons.

Ben said...

The last sentence of that paragraph states that it's fine if you are unarmed and doing that.

larry szurgot said...

I just got home from a two day jaunt in the mountains with Conner and was amazed at the new post. The best I can say is WOW! and reply in the next post after I have had some time to swallow this.

Anonymous said...

Mr Warner please reread the law, the last sentence states for the purpose of taking pictures or watching, not training dogs which would include the activities mentioned at the beginning. But rather then debate this you are very welcome to check with IDFG. 208 334 3700 or read oregons game bird regulations page 29.

Chukarhunter50 said...

Larry. One would think most people have better things to do during the day than the above. But trying to destroy ones fun and life seems to be the agenda of a few. And they actually lack common since IMO for what its worth. Anonymous, I am glad you contacted the idfg. As i studied, read, and re-read and studied the section J you refer to, the Last sentence says it all. It would be interesting to hear the idfg definition of "search for" to take photographs by an unarmed person. There are wildlife harassment laws about dogs, but i can only find that it is illeagle if they disturb or destroy established nesting when it comes to birds. I also do not see any intent of, wounding, take, worrying, killing etc. that jake or larry are doing to wildlife in his blogs or hikes. I only see a story and pictures. IF i read this section correctly, is allowed all year. But it would be interesting to hear the idfg take on this paragraph you quote. Oh and by the way, the idfg barely ever shows up to investigate blatant illegal hunting reports during season, unless its a big game animal or in a meridian subdivision. I am sure this report is on the TOP of thier investigation list after they look at his blog. Plus most wardens i have met, have an assemblance of common sense, and know an amazing dog when they see it.

Oregon is more direct, you are correct on the oregon rule on page 29. But it still would not stop me from taking a hike with my dog and camera. Those are freedoms we all have the right to enjoy.

The disturbing part of this is when i turkey hunt or crappie fishing on brownlee, i am hunting or fishing but i also displace other animals during nesting or birth season with my presence in the wilds. Chukars tend to scatter from my boat when i float past in May, the height of the nesting season. So if i read the letter of the law in the first half of the title you mention, spring turkey hunting, and fiahing should be outlawed in idaho. I fully expect you to honor this and not turkey hunt or fish anywhere because of your conviction to not bother wild animals in the spring. And also, never drive a car, opperate a boat, hike, or mnt bike anywhere a wild animal may see you or hear you as you may be preceived as bothering them from feb 1 thru august 15th. I have your best interest in mind, i really do not want you breaking the law you have educated us with.

So remember everyone, do not intentially or unintentially be near wild animals in off season and always carry a camera just in case you or your dog is questioned by anonymous, he is our advocate for better bird hatches. Unlike mothernature who basically has no control over population fluctuations, but jake and larry are influencing those hatches massively per anonymous. Larry how does it feel to be put on a pedestal over mothernature by anonymous. Your taking on mythical godlike status.

Larry, jake, keep hiking and taking pictures of wildlife, bloging and staying in shape until such a time as common sense, spring fishing and turkey hunting is outlawed. And by the way, i have not seen any locations where you and jake hike in the spring, have lowered bird populations in the fall basis the rest of the area bird counts.

Signed. "One of your FEW supporters"

Ps. Im proud of myself. Not one bad word about anonymous and his actions, and his chickness not to put down his name, he had the gahl to give the idfg all of larrys data. His basis have absolutely no common sense in the real world and going to the lengths of "tattling" on you to the idfg is laughable. I think we all may know who this is from recent blog issues.

Anonymous said...

Gozagsfinalfour. I called IDFG as I was not clear on their rules on training dogs out of season on wild birds THEY informed me of the laws and THEY asked for Mr Szurgots information. My reply was to Mr Szurgots post on pairing birds and training not hiking or enjoying the outdoors, but I am glad you choose not to call any names; like chicken. Call and ask yourself then we won't need to continue this.

Lord Mountbatten said...

Who comments anonymously except a coward? Larry, I've often wondered about whether it's a good idea to hike in chukar territory during the spring, but - like you - I decided that it's okay as long as I have control over my dogs. As you said, birds have more lethal predators to worry about than us bipeds. The worst impact I can think of (aside from a dog pursuing and killing a nesting bird or chick, which I admit happened once years ago when I was out in the spring) is the confusion our dogs will feel if we restrain them from doing what they're designed to do. That's what I worry about more than negatively impacting the birds. I have to balance the desire to see what the birdlife looks like - which means getting close to them - with staying out of nesting areas. In a way, spring hiking in bird country is more intense because of worrying about maintaining this balance. So thanks for posting. (And, by the way, you wrote "B.M." as who you thought anonymous was, and I can tell you it wasn't me!) Finally, you should see if there's a way to block Thom Gordon from commenting; he's tried to cause trouble on my blog and Wordpress lets you block specific people, including "anonymous" commenters, and I'm sure Blogger does, too.

larry szurgot said...

Bob, sorry I haven't answered your comment. I never connected B.M. with you. I apologize to you if anyone might think that is who I was talking about. I definitely want my readers to understand B.M. is not Bob McMichael. Although I have yet to meet you I have great respect for your writings, Leslie, dogs and am excitedly waiting to hear more about the kid. I just read your comment today and after running into the B.M. I referred to and he avoided me I'm pretty sure it was him. Good luck with Chukar Culture. For those interested in chukar hunting it's going to be a great read.