Saturday, September 16, 2017

How did your opener go?

I don't get out on opening day very often, but with the cooler temperatures I decided to give it a try. For some silly reason I decided to go to a place I haven't hunted or scouted for three or four years because it's a little closer to home. Just a short hour drive and I'm on the hill.

To start off with, this area must have had a real harsh winter. An ice berg must have slid down the canyon carving the walls and making them a lot steeper than I remember. Boy did they seem steep. Also, there were a lot more loose rocks than I remember. About 1 1/2 hour into the hunt I rolled one under my foot and did something to my hip as I hit the ground. My hip showed no visual damage but the new gouge in my Citori really bruised my ego.

My memory of birds being there didn't let me down though. There were plenty of chukars on the hill and they kept us going a little longer than I had planned. Jake didn't let me down either. His close ranging while grouse hunting didn't change his attitude on the chukar mountain and he covered the ground the same as years past. The only problem we encountered was even though it was cooler, it was still dry and Jake usually didn't hit scent until it was too late and we moved a lot of birds without points.

My past canine partners were a little disappointed with me. My first shot at chukars every year has been with a shell loaded with their ashes and, until this year I have never missed on that first shot. I think I might have got that bird a little later because Jake and I came back through the area the birds flew to and he jumped a chukar with a leg hanging and I dropped it. My boys in heaven know for sure. They keep a close eye on Jake and me.

I would guess that we saw somewhere around 150 to 200 chukars and no huns. There was plenty of shooting in the area that tells me others were having the same luck. I never saw another dog or hunter but the echoes of their shots let me know I wasn't the only upland hunter on the hill.

My shooting wasn't so great. It serves me right. For the first time for as long as I can remember I didn't shoot my shotguns since the last shot of the 2016 season. I did get some birds and Jake got some good points along with his retrieves. For some reason, Jake will hold a chukar in his mouth longer than any other bird. He was always in a hurry to get the grouse out of his mouth this year and has also been that way with huns in the past. Go figure.

Outside of having to crawl out of my truck on our return to home, I'm super optimistic about what this season has to offer and what Jake is capable of doing in his fifth hunting season. It looks like the birds are there and he definitely has the tools to get me plenty of opportunities on the mountain.

Picture taking was minimal because my camera quit on me again. I got a picture of Jake's first point and then the camera quit and won't let me retrieve pictures either. I'll slam it around a little and try the charger again and maybe I can get it to work again. I like this camera because it fits in my shirt pocket and is easy to get to. Barb helped me see through the view finder on the back of the camera better. She wiped the dust off. Amazing how easy things can be. She also commented on how the knobs shouldn't crunch when you turn them. I always thought a little sweat and dust was a good thing.

Chime in. Are you finding birds out there?


Wishn said...

I had a great day afield. The weather was perfect and the slight breeze was a blessing. I shot a few birds out of the first covey but was shocked at how young they were when I found them.I got into more birds on the hillside but they seemed young too. I finally found a bird with color to shoot but even he was half the size of the birds I got into last year. After continuing to jump young birds I decided to call it a day. I'm wishing I had more than this one spot to hunt since I'd like to leave these birds alone to grow up.

Question, should I leave these birds alone until next year or will they be alright to hunt in a month or so ? Do you think there are older birds in the area I just didn't find since I don't have a dog ?

Thanks for the blog. I enjoy reading about your adventures.

larry szurgot said...

Wishn. Thanks for the post. Glad to hear others are finding birds out there. Although it sounds like the birds you found are a bit too young, young birds are good news. When you are seeing nothing but older birds that usually means a poor hatch. In another month those birds will be a ball to hunt. I definitely wouldn't leave these birds alone until next year. I can't remember the exact ratio but most of those birds will die due to predators and weather. It's something like 80% of the birds will be gone. Hunters only make up something like 10% of the birds. Next month get some good shooting and eating but just keep in mind you can over hunt an area.

Good Luck

Chukarhunter50 said...

Lots of leg work for 2 old chukar hunters. When I start 7 for 7, and my young 6 month old retriever month pup is finding downed birds(12 of them) like shes 4 years old. She used her nose wonderfully, marked down birds great, and was loving the game, and never broke up a point. Cannot say she honored them, but I am sure she will be trainable to honor them. My 2 year old, small munsterlander pointing dog I picked up this summer is wonderful to hunt with(first pointing dog in my house, and not the last). She has the FIND THEM SPIRIT and DRIVE. The retrieving game needs a little work. She did retrieve a hun for me, but her drive to hunt fresh birds after the flush overwhelmed her at times. Maybe that's why I have the retriever tag along, just in case. I am learning thier actions, just as they are learning the game.

She has never hunted wild chukar, only some midwest pheasants and quail, and training pigeons, so it was fun for me to see her actions, learn her HOT BIRD scent traits, and her steady points made me smile and look at the future with her as very positive. Yep, its a new game, she did bump a few, and some just jumped wild upon approach. All in all I expected that as she learns the new game out West. My bothers young wirehair had some great stretches of finding down birds and points which lead to his success. 8.6 miles, 2600 vert, 16 chukar, 8 huns is a good day for a young inexperienced dog team, and owners getting longer on years.

We Saw about 150 chukar and 80 huns, and 75 ELK. Flocks were scattered in our area, and typically in the Best Habitat that always holds birds. Age ranges were from 80% colored to fully colored. Overall, it was a success for my new Team and I look forward to working with them more this year and watch their progress as hunters.

larry szurgot said...

Sounds like the perfect hunt. Good and entertaining dog work, good shooting, plenty of birds to chase, and a couple of old guys that no better than to comment on how the other looks as he stumbles out of the truck after a long (and that is a long hunt) days hunt. Congratulations, and thanks for the bird info.

Unknown said...

Larry it's just the way I operate it could have been me with a flat , I don't fallow your blog like Troy,Troy keeps me up to date that said I'd like to take a look at the breeder you got jake from if you could pass that info along 661 203-6239 thanks Mike Crider