Saturday, November 23, 2019

Day off to contemplate

We're about half way through the chukar season and the boys and I are taking this Saturday off and enjoying some college football. I'm also doing some heavy thinking about this weird hunting season. I've had many hunters tell me they're having a hard time finding birds this year. I have to agree even though I am having a very good season.

October had some early moisture followed by very cold temperatures. Even with the cold temperatures, the grass popped up everywhere. Like normal, the birds scattered everywhere because the fresh sprouts were germinated. Mid October, I was finding small coveys of birds both high and low. Then the warm November temperatures and lack of moisture started drying everything up along with the green sprouts on the southern exposures where the chukars usually tend to use this time of the year. Many of the places, you could drop a match and start a fire. My yard is a perfect example. It is dry as a bone.

The birds I am getting are full of green grass and the coveys are once again congregated. Most of the green grass I find now is on the northern slopes and anyplace the sun doesn't hit directly for most of the day. Even though I see plenty of grasshoppers on the southern slopes I have not found any in the crops of the birds telling me the nutritional value to the birds is more towards the grass than the hoppers.

The birds are very healthy looking and I have been surprised that even the later hatched bird are developing a good layer of yellow fat. They are obviously eating well and prepared for the winter months.

My biggest thought on this season is the two hour rule. It takes two hours of humping the hills to find chukars and then the fun begins. You get your birds and then have a two hour trek back to the rig. This year the two hour rule has been stretched out some. Usually four hours is enough time to have some good success but this year I'm spending 5 to 6 hours on the hill to have the same success as the past. I believe I'm seeing more birds than normal, it is just taking me and the dogs longer to find them. It also could mean I'm getting a lot slower than I use to be but that's hard for me to admit.

So, don't lose faith. I believe some wet weather will soon make it easier for the dogs to find those birds and create some fun experiences.

I've also got some thoughts on Jakes strange behaviors this year. Although he will only be 7 in January he covers only 3/4 of the distance of Grady who is almost two. In fact every once in a while he'll walk behind me on the trail while Grady is out 200 to 300 yards looking for birds. It worried me at first but I've decided as long as he is having a good time and Grady is too I'll stay out of the way and let it be. Jake still gets plenty of points and retrieves and he seems perfectly happy to see Grady at a distance and honor. Last year he didn't seem to ever be looking for Grady but this year maybe he's got smart and decided to let the young guy do the work and he still gets to be in the action.

Sometimes Jake won't see Grady on point but knows he is by the way I am carrying my gun and moving towards a point. He'll honor me but slowly circle behind me until he see's Grady. He'll then either honor Grady or swing around behind me and try to come in and trap the birds between them. At first I whoa'd Jake but am now letting it be what it is. Grady stays locked up and doesn't appear to feel like there is any competition in this behavior.

As far as Grady's honor, it is very solid and he won't move until the flush. Grady's problem is also human  caused. Since he chases flushed birds a little further than I like I've worked on him a little on stop at flush. I've had multiple 200 yard points out of sight that by the time I got there Grady would see me and then just go on hunting. There were no birds. On our last trip I saw him bump some birds and stop. My Alpha told me he was on point and he once again stood there until I got to him. Hopefully he'll eventually quit this and save me those 200 yard hikes up and down the mountain to a pointing dog that has already flushed the birds.

So, I came up with two thoughts to help get more birds this year. Both aren't good for us but will help with success. First, until this weather changes, it's going to take a few more miles than usual and second, get out of the way of the dogs and let them do what they do best. They are a heck of a lot better predators than us so start listening to them and quit worrying about how they get the job done. Some day maybe I'll finally get that figured out.

Good Luck


Larry said...

Thanks for the encouragement to keep hunting Larry! I have found very few birds this year, by far the least of any of the last 15 years. I\Although any hunt is good fun, this has been discouraging because I would like to get my young dog Hannah into more birds. We have been to the places that held birds in the past, but not this year. I will admit that I haven't spent 5-6 hours on the hill.

Annie has been lame for several months, so I don't take her except for short hunts- which have been unproductive. Vet in Sun Valley says it isn't her knee so that was good news. It seems like it should heal up and sometimes she does seem to be doing better.

I am hoping for some moisture before I leave in a couple weeks.

Anonymous said...

Been seeing as many birds actually more chukars.The dog has done great especially on Huns.I hunted with a friend from Ill.and we shot poorly,very poorly. we managed some Huns but our shooting sucked.They were full of green and some seeds.Saw the hoppers but none in the birds.Found the chukars at 4800-5000 ft. the birds actually held good.We were the problem. I just got new glasses but shot worse.
Alan and the setter