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.