Saturday, December 26, 2020

You got to believe

Five more days of hunting in 2020 and like most people I have to say it wasn't the best for me. But even at that, it doesn't take much looking to realize how lucky I am and there are many out there not as fortunate as I am.

As far as for me personally, you all know about my leg and back surgeries that are still up in the air as to whether they might need some tweeking, but no matter what I'm still able to get on the mountain. The new complication came December 8th when I was knocked flat by Covid. It was about as sick as I can remember being, but I probably said the same thing the last time I had the Flu. I was down for about three days and felt I was coming back and after a hunt with the boys I was down for another three. The Doc gave me some steroids and told me to treat it like the Flu and just take care. So me and the boys were soon on the mountain again. This disease seems to attack all the old injuries on the body and I have had a few. My lungs burnt like the first day of football practice and needless to say the dogs did a lot of waiting for me. But waiting they did and encouraged me up the hill.

The good news is that even though I'm still having some lung issues, I'm not contagious anymore and Covid is a thing of the past for me. 

Jake and Grady have had an up and down year. I believe the downs were mainly caused by my inability to move on the mountain as we have in the past and they had a tough time adjusting to me. We found decent bird numbers but had far too much busting of birds. For the most part, I held back from shooting those birds but was never in position to correct any bad habits forming. Luckily, as the season progressed the boys got it figured out on their own. My camera has been left in the truck most of this season so I don't have the proof of how the boys came around but they really got solid again for me. Here's a couple taken when I did have the camera. Jake

and Grady

The two of them have carried me through what could have been a very slow season if I hadn't believed in them, the birds and me. I really believed that I would recover much faster from my injuries and that part was a little disappointing but my belief in the dogs and birds kept me coming back. I knew the boys would turn it around and give me some great opportunities if I just kept going back and they didn't let me down. Even though there was a lot of pessimism from many hunters on the bird numbers this year I knew that those hunters would quit hunting and leave that many more mountains to search chukars out. I was right. I haven't seen another hunter or heard one in a month. But I have seen more birds than expected. Put being on the mountain together with two dogs and lot's of birds and you have a recipe for success.

Not all days are like these

but if you don't believe you'll find birds and the dogs will do their part
then you'll never have these days.
These were the results of my last three hunts. The only bragging I mean by these pictures is of those two dogs. I can't remember the last time my lungs burned like those hunts. It was hard to even get out of the truck and get started but once I did the excitement of those two transferred to me and I knew I was in for another fun journey. None of those trips started out finding birds early and it would have been easy to turn back and go another day but I believed the dogs would eventually find birds and they did. And while on the mountain I saw so much country we hadn't even touched yet and showed great possibilities. Country I believe has to have birds covering the slopes for my dogs to find. I still have another month to find the legs to get there and create another memory.





Friday, December 11, 2020

Another old picture

 Sometimes while hunting something happens that we can't explain. About 25 years ago, I had Tucker on a chukar hunt with me. As we headed up the hill we watched around 25 head of elk go over the ridge. Later as we rounded the hill I saw this yearling standing and watching Tucker trying to find some chukars. It was aware that I was there but showed no fear. I started taking pictures of the elk at about 75 yards or so and kept snapping pictures until the role of film was out.

The last picture I took was at 5 yards and the elk didn't move a muscle.

At one point I made Tucker stay for a picture with the elk. The elk didn't seem to mind but Tucker wasn't comfortable at all with the situation.

The only thing I can come up with on this encounter is that maybe this yearling was actually asleep when the rest of the heard meandered off and it didn't know how to react without mom along to show fear of me. Probably lot's of possibilities but interesting encounter all the same.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020


 Things haven't quite turned out the way that I hoped this hunting season. My leg hasn't healed the way I hoped and my back operation seems to be not  successful. None of it is due to nothing but me. Everybody involved did their best, but each step on the hill is painful and it is getting harder to stay excited about the next hunt. That's the bad news. 

The good news is two chukar dogs that love to hunt. They are the reason I get up at least three times a week and travel to a chukar mountain. I owe it to them to get them out as often as possible. After all, I'm the one who introduced them to this excitement that they love. So out we go chasing the dream. Like usual, it's a long hike before we finally find some birds but the dogs are willing to run and cover the ground looking for that wonderful scent. Outside of me being much slower, every hunt seems to be the same as before for them. I have become use to not seeing birds for the first hour or two but this year it's bothering me more because from the moment I step out of the truck I hurt. Somehow watching the dogs do what they do helps to forget about the pain. And even though we don't seem to be working as well together as we have in the past, I haven't lost my love of seeing them in action.

Take yesterdays hunt. After the collars were put on the dogs, they immediately headed straight up the mountain. Being cold, I had some muffs over my ears and maybe they had heard chukars high up on the hill that I couldn't hear. My leg won't let me go straight up so I have to side hill back and forth to gain elevation and most of the time the boys are out of sight. But they know we are a team and every once in a while they will come back and get a peek to make sure I'm still with them. I am amazed at how many times I check the Alpha and they are covering a different area but than show up right in front of me. They have an instinct to not lose me. 

The first birds I saw were swinging around the mountain about 100 yards to my right at a high rate of speed. Shortly after, Grady came down at a fast trot. My first instincts were to correct this bad behavior but I quickly remembered I am the variable that has changed on the mountain this year. I gave him a quick no and he headed back up the mountain. Not long after that I heard Jake excitedly yipping as he does when he is following some running bird scent, and just as I see him the birds flush way out of range. It is something he has done all his life, without the flushing so I let it go. But still, I'm hurting and would just like to get a shot. 

About an hour and a half into the hunt I had my first point, or should I say dual points. Grady was 250 yards to my left and Jake was 47 yards to my right. No brainer here. Jake's point was flawless as I walked in front and busted the covey. After the shot Grady was there before Jake had retrieved the bird to me. I don't know what happened on his point but he wasn't about to miss out on action. Bird in the vest we moved on.

The rest of the day went about the same. We had some more blunders along with some great dog work. At times, when I could see the dogs, I stopped to rest and just enjoyed watching the dogs cover the ground. Taking the weight off my leg and back was welcomed. It was amazing to watch them work the area in their different ways. Grady going 100 miles an hour and Jake methodically using his nose. Watching them I really got an appreciation of what they do for me. 

Later on I heard Grady wildly yipping and suddenly a large covey of chukars dove over my head with Grady not too far behind. I didn't know why the yipping and chase but figured that maybe someday when I could actually see the action I can correct it. We had plenty more blunders, some I can understand, and also more good dog work. It ended up being one of those good days in spite of me limping around and the dogs doing some bird chasing. I'd say if someone was watching from the distance and saw my boys chasing birds they might think I had some pretty wild dogs and at times they might be right. But they would have to see the many points in between those wild moments to really appreciate how special they are. They know how to find birds and many times hold them so that even a crippled old man can get some action. That's pretty darn special.

A side note back to the last post and old pictures. This ram was obvious hard asleep on this hunt. Tucker and I were chukar hunting when we got about twenty yards from him and he jumped up. He seemed startled before he quickly disappeared.