Thursday, October 31, 2019

Making another trip to remember

Not such a good day. I should have figured that going hunting today with the temperature hitting 12 degrees this morning and it being Halloween was not a great idea but who ever heard of record lows and ghost could make a bad day of chukar hunting. There is not such a thing as a bad day of chukar hunting. Well, today came pretty close.

It started out with uncertainty. I was going into a place I have hunted several times in the past years but have always walked in from the main road. A few times I saw ATVs back in there so I decided today I would take my side by side in and make a shorter walk. It didn't take long to figure out why I walk in. The rock loaded trail was beating me and the dogs to death. Grady finally decided the only safe place was to sit behind me and lodge me against the steering wheel thus keeping him immobile while Jake kept falling off the seat onto the floor and compressing the gas pedal to help keep things exciting. About four miles down the trail I noticed the right front tire was a little low. So, thanks to the lessons from the California crew, I got my trusted can of fix a flat out and figured I fill the tire. I shook the can as instructed and screwed the cap on and air started coming out of the tire so I quickly depressed the button and nothing happened. I unscrewed the cap and found the can of air and goo was frozen solid. Now the tire was low enough that I didn't want to drive any further.

I looked up the hill and decided it looked like a great place to hunt. I parked the side by side and contemplated on setting the can on the hot engine than came to my senses not knowing what kind of explosion I might create. Instead I placed the can next to a tire facing the sun with hopes of it thawing out. The boys were ready to start having some fun so off we went. About two hours into the trip I realized why I had never hunted that place before. We crossed over the canyon to see if the other ridge had any more to offer. To my excitement the dogs found a good covey of chukars but they dove off the ridge with the wind to their back with no shots fired. I might have got a shot had I heard them taking off but my ears were covered with muffs to keep them warm. Who wears muffs on Oct. 31.

Things started picking up with a point on a small group of huns and a second group of chukars but luck always had me in the wrong position to fire. Finally my Alpha says dog on point. I was just about to cross one of those short rock slides and I peaked at the Alpha to see where the dogs were. For some reason my small chukar brain didn't activate my legs to halt and I tripped over one rock hitting the remainder of the slide with my face, gun and Alpha. My first concern was the terrible sound my gun made as it hit the rocks. As I looked over the damage I realized a steady flow of blood onto the stock might be a reason to assess the damage to me. Wow! My nose sure felt big and there was quite a bit of that red stuff coming out. I don't even remember if the birds flushed or what happened but both dogs were right there seeing which one could lick the most blood off. I inserted some toilet paper and used one of the dogs cold water bottles to help stop the bleeding. After about ten minutes we started back off the hill. I finally figured out that my nose wan't as swollen as I thought but just shifted some to the left side of my face. I remembered the drill from my baseball days and running into the left field fence and having to realign my nose and with a quick pop and more blood we were back to walking.
It looks a lot better now that I've showered but trust me I'll have some good black eyes in a couple of days.

The Alpha didn't sustain any damage but my shotgun didn't fare so well. I got some good scratches on the stock,
a small chunk out of the forearm as well as a dent in the rib vent and some barrel scratches.
But things got better from that point on. We found a few more coveys on the way back to the side by side and actually ended up with two chukars and two huns by the time we reached the side by side. I was surprised to shoot so well with my eyes watering like they were. The can of fix a flat had thawed and we got the tire back up to normal before heading back to the truck. Grady was not moving from the drivers seat and our ride back to the truck was cramped for me but comfy for him. I checked the temperature on my truck when we got there and it had risen all the way up to 36. The good news is that it's supposed to get warmer.

Be safe out there, get some birds and treat those dogs to some good times.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

strange month

More than a strange month, this has been a different year for me. After an exciting scouting season I was a little surprised as the season progressed at the fewer finds than usual. I caught Grady a few times chasing the birds and figured that might be the reason for fewer bird encounters. Add to that I wasn't seeing much bird sign. Weather wise, it's been one of the best opening month and a half I can remember. You name the conditions and we've had them. I don't always have great years but I can usually figure out why. Lack of birds, poor dog work or me being lazy are a few reasons I can speak of but this year too many variables had me scratching my head. But I think I have put a finger on a few of the variables affecting my success.

 First of all is Grady and the chasing birds. I don't know what I did to create his chase, but fixing this particular problem with a stern whoa has worked wonders. He's now back to a 20 yard chase before he starts back to hunting. I'm sure on some of his earlier chases he was busting other coveys and that's why I wasn't seeing many birds.

Next is the hatch. There were a lot of real late hatches this year. Just a couple of days ago I got a bird that had to have hatched in late August. In September I'm sure the dogs were having a hard time getting any scent form these young birds creating that lack of bird finds which we are not having that problem now.

Jake has the opposite problem of Grady. Suddenly he has slowed and spends more time close to me rather than hunting the whole time. He had a physical yesterday to check his thyroid etc. and has no problems so I've decided he is just smart and letting the young punk do the hard work. Two days ago Grady got 24 miles in while Jake got 15 and I made 7. Last year Jake would get as many miles as Grady. I'd like to see Jake range a little more like he used to but am perfectly happy if he stays like he's doing now.

Competition. Since last year I have done something wrong and created some competition with the dogs. At first I thought they were pushing each other on point but finally figured that I am the problem. They honor each other and don't budge until I get into the picture. If Jake is the pointing dog, Grady honors just fine until I flush the birds but if Grady is the pointing dog, Jake will break honor when I move ahead and try to circle and trap the birds. This makes Grady nervous and he starts creeping. Once again, I can halt any movement with a whoa but it's sure a lot more fun when nothing has to be said.
On this point I dropped to the right of Jake and he broke honor and swung behind me and reestablished a point below the rocks. Luckily Grady held point and we were successful.
Things are getting a little more back to normal for the three of us and we're having some great outings. I'm counting on November being a really good month with all these young birds being more mature and provide some good scent. The mornings are frosty and scenting conditions are becoming optimum. Those who saved their vacation time until November are going to be pleased.
Get out there and have some fun with your dogs and please stop by and say hello if you see my camper or truck along the road. You'll know me by my TUCKOTA plates. Good luck hunting.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Not always chukar.

My grandson, Conner, drew a cow tag so we switched guns for the weekend and after 12 miles of covering the country he made a great shot on his first elk.
It wasn't an easy shot and as you can see it was right in the boiler maker.

But more than just the shot I have to give a little brag about the pack out. It was evening by the time we got the elk quartered and all the rest of the meat in bags so we made one trip down to the truck 1 1/2 mile away. Conner figured he could pack a hind quarter and a front quarter in the new pack bag we had bought. I was skeptical but after we got the pack on his back he was off and it was all I could do to keep up with him and I was only carrying both our packs and a rifle. I had a hard time keeping up with him and never got pictures.

We slept well that night and headed up the next morning for the final load. I'm glad we got to pack the elk down hill because it was a chore just heading up that hill without any weight on our backs. We did our usual poking fun at each other and by the time we got to the elk somehow I was challenged to pack out the same weight he did the night before and he'd pack out the back strap, tenderloin and scrap meat. Here I am half way down the hill.
I have to admit to taking more breaks than he did,
but in the end I made it to the bottom without any mishaps.
Yes, I was glad to get the pack off my back but it was also great to have that feeling of accomplishment again. Thanks to a great grandson for keeping me challenged.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Chukarhunter50 aka Mark Midtlyng and his small Munsterlander

I met Mark on a turkey scouting trip months ago and he told me of the small Munsterlander he would be getting in July and promised to pass on the progress of Oakley. He has been working hard with Oakley and their first chukar trip was Saturday.

I have another friend, Eric Bullock who stopped by the house and was a little discouraged about his new pup, Breezy (poodle pointer), and her progress. Telling Marks story might help Eric understand that by getting the dog out on birds as often as possible suddenly the light bulb flashes on and you have a hunting companion. Some dogs come along slower than others but birds will make it happen.

Oakley's first chukar hunt started out a little wild for Mark. He was hunting with some other hunters and Oakley decided to blow through a few pointed coveys by other dogs. Mark figured it was time to get off on their own and soon good things started happening for him and his hunting partner Travis. A solid point on a meadow lark was cool but not what they were after.

Oakley was learning quickly his purpose in life and as Mark put it the pup was making the usual blunders of a pup and suddenly things started sinking in.
In 400 yards he had 5 solid points with no flinching. The only blunders were human. Missing the safety button and forgetting to reload gun after lunch break proving the hunter isn't perfect either. In Mark's description of his hunt I liked his last paragraph of his hunt description. 

He said Oakley went from a first grader to a high school student. Sure she'll have some puppy dog blunders but he showed the promise of what the future has in store for him with Oakley.
Every bird dog is different and some take longer than others for the light bulb to click on. Eric, get your dog out on birds as often as you can until he she becomes obsessed with looking for them and with a little human help you will have the same success as Mark. Believe in her abilities and it will soon happen.