Jake, Grady and I arrived at our hunting destination at 9:30 the morning of Jan. 18th. The temperature had rose from 18 degrees to 28 and the southern slopes were thawing from the warm sun. We like to give the chukars a little time to get off the roost and start eating. That way there is more scent to help the dogs. As I put the collars on the dogs I could here the chukars calling from the snowy north slope. I wasn’t overly excited about it since there were so many burnt off slopes I could begin with but you know that old saying about a bird in the hand.
So after side hilling across the slopes we finally hit the draw below where I heard the birds talking. I had no more than started up the steep slope when the Alpha buzzed me that the dogs were on point.
I know 100 yards doesn’t sound like much but you have to understand that is 100 yards on flat ground and doesn’t count for the elevation gain. When I was about forty yards from the dogs I was surprised to see quail running around. I never see them in the open like this.
I hadn’t shot a quail all year and decided that since the boys had such a nice point and honor I might try and shoot a couple at the flush. I was fortunate and got two nice male California quail. Both dogs got a retrieve and we were off to a good start.
Jake and Grady immediately were off looking for more birds but instead of heading up towards where I had heard the chukars they crossed the draw and headed back up the southern slope. Once again I had just hit the bottom of the draw when the Alpha buzzed me again.
Here I go again and yes they were straight up the hill again. Two things I new for sure were that it was going to take me a while to get up there but the dogs would hold tight as long as the birds would. I was pleased when I finally got to them to see a fine point and honor.
Jake was the honoring dog and Grady was on point at the head of the draw with a good breeze coming up. Not being sure where the birds were I moved about forty yards below Grady and came in from the right hoping for a left to right shot which is my preferred shot. As I moved into position I was disappointed to have the birds flush another 50 yards below me without a shot. I did enjoy the great dog work the boys provided though. The next hour or so produced three more points and honors but no picture action because of the steepness and some mediocre shooting. I did get a short clip of Grady retrieving a chukar for me.
The day continued with some great dog work. But getting shots was tough. Like most late season birds they held good for the dog but flushed wild as soon as the two legged predator showed up. Chukar hunting is never on flat ground. Where ever a dog catches scent the hunter has to follow so there is a lot of elevation gain on a typical hunt. Average elevation gain for me on a chukar hunt is between 1500 feet and 2000. Whenever I find a game trail I take advantage of it.
My final point on chukars was Grady honoring Jake.
I love these points the most because Jake doesn’t get to be the pointing dog as often. He is 8 years old now and can’t cover the ground the 3 year old athlete Grady can. As I moved in front of the point i took one last shot before going in for the shot.
I moved down the slope and as the covey erupted I picked a chukar and dropped it and then a second. Things sometimes go as they should. Both dogs headed down for the birds but both went after the same one. Jake got to it first.
With a little coaxing I convinced Grady that there was another dead bird and he soon found it.
By now we had been on the mountain for close to five hours and I was spent. I was ready to take the shortest route back to the side by side but the dogs were having nothing to do with it. They were soon on point 250 yards away. At least it was down hill and kind of towards where I was headed.
When I got to them a dozen or so huns flushed and I connected on another double. What a way to finish.
Our totals for the day were just under 6 miles for me, Jake had over 18 and Grady logged in 22 plus. My elevation gain was just below 1800 feet. The dogs were more than happy to get into the side by side and assume their positions.
Back at home we took our tailgate picture with three species of birds. These were our first quail of the year and we don’t get many huns. The boys did a fantastic job for me and they are what this blog is all about. I only hope every hunter appreciates their canine partners as much as I do.