Monday, June 5, 2017

Early June and still on the positive side.

Being retired, I get to spend a lot of time in the mountains with Jake and now Conner with school being over. I can't see a better way of spending days than what I do. But, that's enough about how lucky I am. I'm sure you're more concerned about how the chukars are doing.

First let me say I haven't found any babies or nest yet this spring but am still seeing very favorable conditions. Baby grasshoppers are showing up everywhere. I haven't seen one covey of chukars or huns in the last month which says they are paired and nesting as nature planned. The chukars I am seeing are singles and usually standing on a distant rock declaring their dominance.
Outside of a good thunderstorm last night the weather has been optimal for a great hatch and I'm sure the chukars are doing as well as the rest of the animals I am seeing are doing.
Even in the rainy weather the cocks are out on the rocks protecting their turf. 
We are finding a lot of other signs of a favorable spring though. The big game animals seemed to adjust fine to the rough winter we had and we're finding loads of cow elk out with obvious calves somewhere. When the cow ignores you and is pretty intense on running your dog off it's pretty much a guarantee that their is a little one somewhere close by.
In this case I decided to get Jake out of the area. She was very unhappy with him. But on that same rainy day that the chukar was protecting his turf, this cow elk watched too curiously as Jake and I traveled her draw and she made no attempt to run away.
Sure enough I located her calf laying still in the open. Jake had no idea the calf was there and stood wondering why I whoa'd him. He would have run right over it before he smelled it.
The calf did just what the instincts told it to do. Freeze, and don't move.
Jake finally walked up to me as I was taking some pictures and gave it a concerned look but left with me as soon as I said let's go.
We've had a few other encounters with elk and calves and also with some deer. Conner, Jake and I have found several does with fawns but this gal was very obliging with her baby.
She didn't want to come out and get photographed but she didn't mind us posing with her baby.
Of course Jake didn't want Conner to get all the excitement so we had to snap a shot of him observing the fawn.
A little closer to our concerns about the chukar is the big bird (turkey). Their breeding habits and nesting times are very similar to chukars, except for the locations of where they do their nesting. I know that some will get very discouraged to hear this but Jake is a sure fire way to find any kind of bird. I know that it is illegal to hunt turkey's with a dog but it is not illegal to observe animals with a dog. Jake helped find these turkeys to observe.
When momma stays close by and clucks constantly as you move in you know there are chicks close by.
The trick is to find those little peepers. Trust me it isn't as easy as it might seem. There is one in this picture but we would never had found it had the grass not moved a little.
There were somewhere around a dozen chicks scrambling through the deep grass and Conner picked this one out hoping to imprint upon it to come to his call next year.
If all the other wildlife has done as well I think the chukar will have the same results. I think if we have no big cold and wet storms come through we're home free. Meanwhile Conner, Jake and I will take the arduous task of hiking the hills and trying to keep you informed of what we are seeing.

Be safe and have a good summer.


Greg said...

Thanks for the update Larry. You and Conner continue to have great outdoor experiences together which he will always treasure. Lucy pointed a fawn last nite within two minutes of getting out of the car and before I could take my first bow stump shooting shot. Have been in Italy for three weeks so nice to be back into the woods.

larry szurgot said...

Great to hear from you Greg. Do you have any big hunts planned for this year or are you heading back over to Wyoming to wrestle with some more Grizzlies? Your hunts are an inspiration for old farts (and young ones too). Over 70 and still humping the mountains with a bow and string. A traditional bow at that.

Hope all of yours are doing well and looking forward to some exciting stories.
Larry and Jake

Greg said...

No tags for big hunts this fall Larry....just elk and deer here in MT. Am going with a guy older than me with our little one person pack rafts on a 10 day 100 mile float down a remote Alaska stream system....part too small for regular rafts in late August. Should be lots of bears and even more fish in pretty wild country.

larry szurgot said...

Absolutely perfect. I hope people reading this realize how much fun there is to be had out there in the outdoors no matter what age if you have the love for it like you do. Inspirations.

Larry and Jake

Dave s said...

Hoping for an update soon, Larry. Worried about a couple ofnthse early June rainstorms.

larry szurgot said...

David. I wish I had good news but in our few jaunts out in the last weeks heat has produced nothing. I'm also concerned about those June rains and effect on the early hatches. Fortunately, I believe most chukars and huns hatch closer to the first of July and are hard to locate right now. The good side is that when we do get out we're seeing lot's of singles which in my opinion means the mate is probably still on the nest. Of course these are only my opinion's but whenever I start finding little ones there are almost always a pair of adults with them. It only seems normal that would be the mating pair but some say the males vacate. We're also seeing the same thing with the quail. Seeing lot's of single males but very few females with them. The top notches definitely show they are males and later in July suddenly there is a pair with lot's of little ones in tow. I've also seen several ruff and blue grouse but no babies.

The good news is that I usually don't see many upland babies until later in July. If the number of pairs I saw in March is any indication of nests out there and they are now hatching we should still have a good 2017. Especially with the green up still out there and all the insects.

Also, the number of calf elk, fawns and turkey chicks I am finding tells me the winter wasn't half as bad on wildlife as we feared. Most of our hikes have not been in heavier chukar country because of the heat but we will be checking them out in about three weeks.

Chukarhunter50 said...

I start locating populations around july 20th forward. I have been scouting chukar the past 30 years and my counts the past 20 have come from the same paths every year and on very hot days in late july-Aug. This gives adequate time for first and second hatch chicks to grow up a little and become visable. I utilize early morning wake up chuking to locate birds and water sources as places to see birds.
Momma chukar are good at hiding chicks for the first 4 weeks. Then they start showing themselves.

Compared to last years echos in the canyons, at this time, hells canyon area (brownlee and oxbow) were very silent when i spent july 1-2 in the area. I hope they were just hiding the chicks in the draws or tall grasses.

Pockets will have good populations but overall from my past history, i am speculating today, it appears the harsh winter damaged the potential large brood stock population, and the spring storms, (very cold storm around May 20th went through E oregon-oxbow, squaw butte area), and large early june thundar storms too, likely had an impact on nesting hens or fresh hatched chicks. Bug conditions for chicks is good on the positive side.

2016, the stars lined up, good brood stock, good hatching conditions, bugs and we had excellent brood counts. 2017?? We will all compare notes in about 45 days. Keep the faith. I am Excited to have my first pointing dog.

larry szurgot said...

Thanks Chukarhunter50. Looking forward to hearing more from you in about 45 days.

Dave s said...

I was over in Oregon at my brothers farm and saw a couple of pheasant broods last weekend. Normal size pheasant broods, but not large numbers of birds. Chicks were at least 4 weeks old.

There are some reports of chukars starting to flow in. One report with video evidence showed a really good numbers of birds. I have gotten several reports of broods out of the owyhee's.

I think the Ernest is going to be very strong. Lets keep hoping for a good year. Does it latter though. I think we will still be out there.

Dave s said...