Friday, January 26, 2018

Calm between the storms

As I headed out on my long drive towards the reservoir I was pleased to see a light snow falling. There was a 20% chance of snow today compared to a 90% chance tomorrow. I figured most of the past snows had melted and I would be on some fairly open slopes. Wrong. If this storm only produced 20% I don't wan't to see what tomorrow will bring. Although it was mostly fresh snow and very little slipping the body seems to tighten up and you use different muscles when hiking in snow and it didn't take long to feel those different muscles.

I wanted to hunt an area I haven't hunted since the first of November in which I saw many cooperating birds. As I approached the area I wanted to hunt there was about 6 inches of new untracked snow. Jake soon took care of the untracked snow and I wondered if there were more than one dog on the hill as I went higher, but knowing we were the only vehicle in this morning meant Jake was just doing his stuff. The top of the furthest ridge is where we were heading.
I was amazed how quiet everything seemed. The temperature was somewhere around 35 degrees and no breeze to be felt. I realized how quiet Jake and I must have been also when a red fox sprang up about 20 yards from me and disappeared into the brush. It's tracks began from under a sage brush clump. I don't think Jake ever saw it but he definitely was curious about the odor.
Although today was very similar to many of the other days on the mountain, my mind was filled with emotions of the wonders that God and chukar hunting have provided for me. Not only the beautiful country that seemed even more so on this calm and quiet day but the energy I seem to get every time I get on the hill. I was questioning whether to head up the hill when I saw the snow this morning but once I started there seemed to be a magnet pulling me further and further. I also become amazed at how the animals survive up here and how most of the time they go unnoticed by us. The fresh snow showed deer tracks walking the same trail as I but suddenly turned to long strides down the hill. Was the deer running from me or Jake? Was it a buck or doe? How is it I didn't see it? Questions I wouldn't have thought about except for the snow was so fresh. I've humped these mountains many times in the past and never seen or heard another hunter, but obviously Jake and I were never alone.

When I started this blog several years ago I did so mainly to show people how much fun chukar hunting is and especially how much fun I have hunting behind my fine partners. For some reason today really hit home to me on the reasons I chose to chukar hunt. I kept thinking, I can't wait to get home and put all these thoughts on the blog. As usual most of those thoughts faded into that part of my mind that I can't recover. I just know everything was perfect.

Jake is always on my mind. He has amazed me as a hunting companion. This is his fifth hunting season and there is very little that he can't do. Usually, this time of the year, I'm thinking we're going to have to break some of those bad habits come season end but this year he seems to have figured out what makes hunting click between him and me and just keeps delivering. I often wonder what he thinks when no bird hits the ground but this year it seemed to happen often enough that all he needed was no bird and off to the next find. How did this animal become so good at what he does? It wasn't anything I did. Maybe God picked him out for me knowing how much I enjoyed being on the mountain and I needed a partner to keep me going.
Jake is definitely my rock when it comes to chukar hunting. He seldom lets me down and always keeps track of me. He doesn't need a gps to find me as I do him.
Something different usually happens on each hunt to add a different flavor to it. Today, as I approached one of Jake's uphill points, the birds flushed a little wild. I fired and somehow hit the trailing bird. It must have been either a head shot or heart shot because it flew straight up in the air before flying back down the hill straight at me. It hit the snow not five feet from me dead as a stone. Jake watched it fall and ran over to the bird and than looked at me as to say, "if you think I'm picking up that crazy bird you're nuts" and he never did. I finally bent down and picked it up as he watched.
I spent as much time thinking on the mountain today as I ever have. I hoped that my grandson, Conner will keep the same love for the mountain as he has today and that there will always be mountains for him to pursue his passions. I won't be able to keep up with him much longer, but will be happy to go part way with him and excited to hear his stories when he returns. I hope that he and a couple of his friends I have introduced to hunting always respect the outdoors the same as they do now. 

Depending on the next storm, this may be my last hunt of the season, so I wanted to thank all of you who responded by phone or on the blog. It makes me feel good to know that there are a lot more of you crazies out there that love our dogs and hunting as much as I do. As far as the bird numbers go, I believe there will always be birds out there to pursue. The up and down years will go on forever but all most everything depends on the spring and summer months. 

Hopefully, Jake and I will be telling lies in the future to help keep you stimulated on pursuing chukars and huns. As long as Jake permits I will be sending pictures of what he does for me, such as this one which was one of my favorites of the day.
Oh, by the way, this is what the mountain looked like five hours after the picture of the same hill this morning.
And this was our final tally after a great day of dog work and a poor day of shooting.
May you always have public lands to pursue your dreams on and may you have the health and dreams to push you up that mountain.
Also, don't forget to give your other halves a big hug for allowing you to spend so much time pursuing chukars. I logged 64 trips just chukar hunting this year. Thank you Barb.

Larry and Jake


Troy, Rowdy and Ben said...


Hanson said...

I hope you ended it on that note. What a great end to the season!

Doesn't it seem like the seasons go by faster every year?

Thanks for sharing.

Scott Hines said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences hunting chukars. Always look forward to seeing another post which shows why we like hunting this remarkable gamebird so much. We had a great year up here in WASHINGTON and hope next year will only be better. Have a great summer.

Michael said...

Always enjoy reading about the joys and trials of chukar pursuit. Thanks for another season of entertaining stories, and have a restful month or two before you begin checking on the mountainsides for the state of chukardom.