Wednesday, January 1, 2020

A new decade

Today is the beginning of a new decade for all of us. For the younger hunters just starting their journey in upland hunting or any other type hunting for that matter, I encourage you to keep a journal. I've kept notes for the past thirty years but only on a tablet my first ten years until my daughter, Kerri, made me my first upland journal. Since that time I have recorded each individual hunt no matter how meaningless it may have been.

I quit keeping a journal the last two years and after reading through the past twenty years of journals I will be back at recording my hunts.

I started out by looking through my journals to find the date Dakota, my second GSP, was chased by a cougar and I ended up shooting the cat at 7 yards. Once I found the date, Christmas eve 2004, I became curious about many of the other things that happened during my thrilling chukar hunts.

Of course the most memorable moment was Tucker's first point and retrieve on Oct.29, 1996. He pointed his first upland bird which ended up being a pheasant and he was so small he had to try and drag it back to me. Since that time he brought me many memories such as the time he went head over heals several time while chasing a cripple down a steep slope. I wrote how scared I was when I watched it but also how relieved I was to see him unscathed and the crippled bird in his mouth. I had many more of those moments over the years, but got more used to it realizing that is part of hunting chukar terrain.

Although I usually hunt alone, I  travel to the hunting areas with other hunters and then we go our own ways. I'd forgotten about many of those people and the great stories we shared to and from home. Greg Allen and I have spent so many hours riding together over the past thirty years I could write a book of all the crazy things that have happened to us. Like the time we got stuck in a snow drift with his son and his son's friend. It was before the cell phone craze and we had no way of communicating back home. We were pretty sure we were there for the night and this was the first hunt the friend had been on and his parents knew nothing about Greg or I. As we huddled in the truck Greg and I wondered what the parents were thinking about us. Then the lion hunters came and pulled us out. That was clear back in 2001.

Like I mentioned, except for Conner, I usually hunt alone but I offered to take a friend hunting one day. He mentioned he might bring a friend and I was a little miffed when he showed up with four guys. I was hunting with Tucker and Dakota at the time and they had never hunted with anyone but me. I bit my tongue and figured on giving it a try but left my shotgun in the truck worrying about watching hunters and my dogs to make sure everything was safe. By the end of the day I was one proud dog owner. Team Tuckota were champs and everybody got to shoot off points. None of the guys had ever shot a chukar before and by the end of the day we came home with 26 birds.

Oh , and my fall on November 28, 2004 that put the final crunch on my right knee. The next day we scheduled my knee replacement for the first available day in February, after the season ended.

On January 8, 2005, Jeff Dooms, my neighbor and best friend shot his first limit of chukars. He had hunted with me for several years without a dog but didn't like my pace so his wife, Teresa, got him his own GSP, Calvin, and the hook had been set. Four years later he died in a head on collision. A person who shared many hours talking about our dogs. He and I got pretty beat up dislodging a deer stuck in a barb wired fence that year.

That same year, another friend of mine,Claire Eberhardt, lost his twelve year old GSP on a hunt. It was 1/23/05 and the temperature in the Owyhees never got above freezing. She didn't have one of the new Astro's and with the fog and cold had no way to look for her. We started a fire and walked and drove around calling her name for five days with no luck. On the fifth day we had figured the worst. On the way out, a local rancher, 25 miles away stopped us and had found her walking the road by his house. Happy ending and a hunt to write about.

The season of 2005-2006 was my most successful season to that date. It was the first year of the Astro and maybe that could explain my success, but I'd rather believe it was my dogs. I wrote in my notes "all I have to do is let my dogs find the birds and they will hold them until I get a good shot". I got my first double/double that year. That's a limit of huns and chukars in Idaho.

One of my notes said "the dogs pointed a coot today". I remember it well. Miles from a reservoir and a coot takes off from the sage.

2006 and 2007 were probably my funnest years. I get to hunt behind three shorthairs. Tucker, Dakota and Riley. They complimented each other very well and I can't count how many points I walked up on with two honors.

11/21/2008 was the first day I ever can remember going chukar hunting and not seeing a single bird.

I compare all of my dogs by the notes of my journals and it is amazing how I had the same complaints about each one as well as the compliments. I've finally learned that bird dogging is a process that takes time. They have all chased, they have all dropped retrieves, they all seem to have no nose at times, and they are all great.

I don't know how we hunted before the Astro came about. Several of my earlier notes mention my dogs being out of hearing range of the beepers. Somehow we managed and although I had some panic moments I never lost a dog.

Evidently I've always been a whiner. I can't count the times that I complained about how hard it is getting up those mountains. Even clear back in the early 2000's. Complaining about having fun must be a chukar thing.

Other notables, Oregon shut down chukar season 15 days early in 2004 and Idaho closed season 1/10/09. The only early closures I have notes of. The Oregon closure was for Baker county and because of that I ended up finding some more great hunting places in Malheur county. Reading through my journals brings back many of those spots I don't hunt anymore and am wondering why.

My last hunt with the three Amigo's was 10/22/09 and Tuckers last hunt was 11/19/09. Great days. My last chukar hunt with my son was 12/23/11 and he limited out.

The season of 2010-2011 beat 2005-2006 in success. It was truly the good days. That year it was nothing to go to different places every day and see 100 birds or more.

January 2011. I finally beat the mountain. This steep hill is always filled with chukars but I could never get a limit. My best at this spot was 5 for 18 shots. It had my number.  On this particular day I went 8 for 8 and finnaly beat it.

January 2012. The duct tape eight. I had to duct tape my shotgun back together to finish a hunt. Chukar hunting has been rough on many  guns.

Summer of 2012 had Riley in getting knee's fixed and he was back at it for hunting season.

This is a big one. Conner's first chukar hunt. Although he wasn't carrying a gun yet he was right with me on each step. 11/23/12.

10/19/13. Blew out left knee bad enough that I couldn't wait until season end to replace it. I got one more month in before the operation but was on the hill hunting chukar the last week of January 2014.

1/13/15, Conner's best day on the hill. 4 chukars behind the dogs at 12 years old. On 11/25/17 he shot his first limit of chukars at the age of 14. He's done that several times since.

So, that is my account of why I keep a journal. Even typing this up gets me excited and brings a lump to my throat at times. There are so many memories besides the killing on hunts and the brain don't remember them all without some help. Unlike many of the gentlemen my age, looking back over the years, I can't say it's not like the good ol days because I don't believe chukar hunting has changed that much. At least for me it hasn't.


Chukar11 said...

Great read, I have kept a journal since 1972, always look back, when ever someone talks of the good old days I just have to read it, chukar hunting has not changed at all in the last 50 years, lots of birds or not, always the good old days, the most bird yeats here in Nevada where 1980 and 2010, this season is average, just gave to put a few more hours in each day

Tuckers Chukars said...

Thanks Chukar 11. Always good to hear from someone who has been hunting chukars since the 70's. You just learn to go with the flow of the different bird years.

Hanson said...

Great post Larry. Hunting journals are priceless. Sometimes a chore after unpacking and hopefully cleaning birds, but now I have over 30 years of memories on paper/digital.

How did that coot taste?

Enjoy the last month of the season. I am going to make one more chukar trip to either NV or ID, depending on where the snow is bearable.

Tuckers Chukars said...

Idaho is way low on snow pack right now and although the birds are a little flighty they still are around to entertain. I went out today and hunted in fifty degree weather.

Anonymous said...

My journal on bird hunting started in 1969, but I only got in to the chukar world in 2001. A mere babe in the woods on the chukar!

I gave hunted upland birds all over North America with my setters, and had a brittany and one GSP in the 60 years+ behind pointing dogs. I enjoy the chukar -hun high desert world more than any of the upland birds these days. It isn't easy getting around some of it, but it sure is beautiful and the birds are wonderful on the table. A real adrenaline jolt when you can see the dog go point out there a ways and plan your approach using the terrain. When you come over the edge near the dog it is like Xmas morning for me.

Ive enjoyed your recollections larry, as always.

Anonymous said...

Gentleman from Tenn