Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Early season take

 From other sites and text's I'm getting a mixed opinion on the chukar and hun populations in southwest Idaho. It's hard to say what the season is going to bring and rather than give a thumbs up or down I'll tell you what I found.

I'm going under the knife tomorrow so understand these hunts have been in good chukar country but not many miles (two at the most each time) and very little elevation gain or loss.

My first hunt was almost a bust. Both Jake and Grady were excited to be on a chukar mountain again and covered a lot of country and we saw one chukar that looked to be a mature bird. The hill was as dry as I can ever remember and I barely had enough water to keep the dogs hydrated and we were soon headed home.

Hunt two brought just a little moisture over the night and also lifted my spirits enough to hurry out in the morning for maybe some good points. By the time I got to my hunting location I could tell the moisture had missed this spot. But we went on anyhow. I was pleased shortly after we left Grady busted a dozen or so chukars and they all looked to be mature first year birds. They flew across the draw and although Grady wanted to pursue I knew I couldn't get down the canyon and back up so I encouraged him to stay with me and follow the trail around the dry ridge. Twice I saw coveys of chukar flying off below me and was quite sure Grady had busted them. By the time I covered about two miles and ended up back at the rig the dogs busted 6 covey of birds with the biggest covey being about 2 dozen. Although I got no points I did shoot two birds and they were this years birds and mature.

Hunt three took me to an old favorite. From the time we got out of the rig we were hearing birds. I even got out the bino's and watched several birds hopping from rock to rock high above. Although I knew I couldn't get to them I slowly headed that way for a game trail that rounded the ridge they were on. I was sure once we got on the trail the boys would at least bump a few birds from above but was shocked when the dogs went through the area and never even got excited. I knew there were birds there because I saw them but the dogs never picked up scent. As we rounded the ridge the birds were chattering like crazy and I could see them crow hopping up the hill. The dogs also heard them and were encouraged up the hill. Wow! by the time we concluded our hunt I saw at least 30 birds on the ground and never saw one take to the sky. Once again, it was very dry conditions.

Being I don't know how long I'll be down I promised the boys one more hunt even though it was going to be warm. I usually try not to hunt the same spot twice in a month but decided because of the ease of walking I'd return to the scene of day ones hunt. The dogs were treated to some excitement seeing two covey from the road on the way in and were more than ready to get the collars on and start the hunt. We parked in the same old spot and it wasn't five minutes before a large covey of chukars flew around the ridge and landed not 100 yards away. We headed that way and the dogs got a little birdie but didn't really act that excited and worked their way up the draw. As I walked through the area I saw the birds land I was surprised as they flushed. The dogs never even smelled them. They weren't on the ground long enough to leave much scent I guess and these birds were from a later hatch so I left them for a later date. Soon after that one of the dogs busted a half dozen more chukars that dove down the draw. I stayed at about the same elevation letting the dogs work the area. I watched as they got birdie but they never gave me a point. By the time they got a snoot full they were right on top of the birds and they flushed. This happened several times before we got back to the truck. I ended up shooting three birds that were flushed and these birds also were first year mature birds.

So there you go. Take it from as to what the season is going to look like. The place I went to on the first and fourth hunt produced one bird the first time and at least 50 the fourth. Under good conditions who knows how many birds we might have seen. Even though it wasn't as much fun for me to watch the boys slamming on point they still had a great time being out there searching. They even got to get some feathers in their mouths.

The weather has made it tough out there and it's a hit or miss time of the year. My nose got plugged up on today's hike so I can imagine how much pollen and dust the boys sucked in trying to find those birds. One other observation that might be of some importance was the quail on the way out. We saw several covey of quail on the road and every covey was huddled up in the shade of trees. Evidently birds don't care for heat either and possibly don't cover as much ground this time of the year thus not leaving as much scent. Just a thought to why some people aren't seeing as many birds.

Anyhow, I'm looking forwards to some wet weather and cooler temperatures and hoping in about two weeks to be on the mountain again. I believe the birds are out there just waiting to make me look like a fool again and I'm just waiting to oblige them so you guys save a few for me.

Good luck


Chukarhunter50 said...

ditto. dogs struggling to hold points as they are getting to close in the dry conditions. I've had a good start to the season due to Oakley becoming a good down bird finder and Emmies tireless work to find birds in these dry conditions. I've seen quite a few 1/2 grown birds that need another 4 weeks and plenty of full colored birds. moisture is the key. Huns appear plentiful in areas and chukar are decent populations in others. havent found that hun chukar combo area yet. Long walks and more good dog work is in the future, once the weather cools. Good luck tomorrow and speedy recovery, to get back on the hill soon. Mark

Anonymous said...

Thanks for information regarding your early hunts. Gracie won’t be able to hunt for 2 to 3 weeks. I’ve spent time with the pup and letting her hunt quail,not sure if she can smell them as it’s dry all over. she has found a few pheasant,she has had a few flash points but most have flushed.So different hunting with a young dog but she will learn.I see we may have some rain not this next weekend but the following weekend. I hope so. Hope your recovery goes well and you have some wet ground soon. Hang in there.
Alan,Gracie,and Piper

Tuckers Chukars said...

You're right Alan. Piper will learn. It takes birds, birds, birds. As you well know, the more she finds the faster she'll learn to handle them.
Surgery went great but the Doc is trying to slow my planned recovery time a little.

Anonymous said...

Listen to your docs Larry. Free advice: You have come a long way together back to where you are and dont bust something by pushing it now.

I had a long trip from Tenn for a few Idaho days last weekend. Overall the first tow days were extremely slow for huns or chukars but here were quail everywhere and of every age. After second day of 13 plus miles I told my hunting friend out there I was beginning to think the reward was not worth the effort to travel out there . Sure enough the third and last day was excellent hunting and we saw and bagged good numbers . And guess what, day three was partially spent reworking some of the same cover we had been very disappointed with on day one. Just like Larry's experience upon returning to a previously hunted cover. Did see more pheasants than usual in another cover . So id conclude phase and quail are up and huns and chukar are around but certainly spotty at best..

Tuckers Chukars said...

Thank you, and good advice. I'm home now and didn't expect this much pain and down time. Dogs are going to go nuts waiting for me to get better. I can't even drive my side by side and let them run for a couple of weeks. We'll get through it but it's sure the pits.
One plus, are the elk bugling behind the house keep me somewhat entertained.

Hanson said...

Been a miserably dry Sept 1 - October 4 here in MT. 82 and forest fires in our blue grouse country today. Smoke and no humidity definitely have an impact on dog work.

Keep the faith Larry and heal quickly. You know that some awfully good hunting is ahead of you in Nov-Jan.

Thanks for the update.

Idaho_Brittany said...

Thanks for the update Larry. I have been out twice and have seen and shot about as many birds as I normally do this time of year with the warm weather and lack of rain. Generally may day consists of getting on the hill around 7 and back to the truck before 10.

Tuckers Chukars said...

Absolutely. Take advantage of every cool hour you can. Those dogs enjoy those shaded draws even more than us.

Robb said...

Larry, Thanks for the info. Really appreciate it. I want to ask you a question if you don’t mind. I notice you hunt with an over/under, as do I. What is your preferred choke combo for chukar? Does it change as the season progresses? Is there a particular load you prefer most of the time? Thanks again. Robb

Tuckers Chukars said...

Robb, I shoot modified in both barrels. When I kept records I found that was what worked best for me even in the later season when birds flush a little wilder. I reload and have tried everything from fives to 7 1/2 shot and settled on 7 1/2s. Believe it or not I recorded fewer cripples with that load. I do put all the lead out there I can get with 1 1/4 ounce. My partner, Greg Allen swears by #5 shot and shoots it year round. I patterned up a good load and I know when the bird keeps flying (which is all too often) it's my poor shooting and not the gun or loads.

Good luck out there.

Robb said...

Thanks Larry! Get well soon. Hope to see you out there sometime

Unknown said...

Hey Larry. i'm bad with tech. is there a way to email you privately for a quick chat. or call if you are comfortable with that? marc