The way I understand it, this blog will be a few weeks before I get indexed and people can see it. So If you’re interested in what I have to contribute to chukar hunting, you’ll have several blogs to catch up on.
Today I had a chat with another old chukar hunter about the status of chukar hunting. It was a great conversation and I’d love hearing anyone’s view on the subject. The conversation once again made me wonder what happens to hunters as they get older. Mainly, why do we tend to not admit that we just don’t have the legs to do it like we use to? As many get older they sit around the coffee table and talk about how it use to be and that bird numbers aren’t like they were back then. Or, that there are too many hunters out there today and you can’t find a place to hunt. They sometimes even complain about the new innovations that are ruining chukar hunting like the Garmin devices or the ATV’s. Basically, it’s not like the good ole days.
Sometimes these guys sitting around form a group thinking they have to do something to save things before it’s all gone. These groups try and tell the Fish and Game, in their expertise as a hunter, how to manage the game now. Some times they present some good input but mostly they become a pain. Basically all they can see is “the good ole days”.
I see it quite different. As far as chukar hunting we are in the good ole days. Technology has changed and so has land ownership, but the bird numbers haven’t changed that much. The 70’s had some fantastic bird numbers as well as some very low number years. Old timers seem to only remember those banner years but forget that they just didn’t hunt much on those down years. They remember how you could go almost anywhere and hunt without ever seeing anyone but they forget there wasn’t a road into the area back then. They forget how many times they came home with an empty game bag, but they remember the day that five of them came home with 40 birds. It’s amazing how selective our memory gets.
In my chat with this gentleman he mentioned low numbers of birds and lots of unethical hunters this year. I don’t stand in his shoes, so maybe that’s true on his outings. But for me, the year hasn’t been that way. At the worst, this year has seen at least an average number of chukars. I have seen more chukar hunters on the roads this year, but most of them were out for an hour or so and would head home because of the lack of birds they saw. Those are usually the guys saying there aren’t any birds out there. The guys that are having success stayed out there until they found the birds. They don’t say much because they don’t want to attract any competition.
As far as unethical or rude hunters, in my fifty plus hunts this year I have run into one hunter on the mountain. He was hunting without a dog because his fourteen year old dog had to take a break after hunting the day before. We were quite a way from the road and I complimented him for courage to hunt way up there without a dog and he passed on some information of where he saw a couple of covey’s and we parted our ways. Since the 70’s I can only remember one time when I had a conflict with another chukar hunter on the mountain.
Another complaint I hear quite often is about road hunters or guys that hunt from their ATV’s. It is not my way of hunting but what makes my way the right way. I like to get as far from the road as my legs will take me and follow the hounds. As long as the road hunter isn’t shooting from the road or anything else illegal that is his or her right and I hope they are having as much fun as I am. Those that hunt behind dogs on an ATV are also fine with me as long as they are not breaking any laws. There’s no way they can get to where I hunt. Those places are hard enough to get to with only boots on the ground.
I’m not any better of a person or hunter than anyone. Chukar hunting has been my greatest entertainment and I like to think of myself as an ambassador to the sport. I’d rather talk about all the positive things that dogs, chukar and the mountain have to offer. I have lot’s of unsuccessful hunts as far as filling the game bag, but very few have been unenjoyable. Even those are part of chukar hunting. Like when my dog got shot. That was a hunt I’ll never forget.
I guess what it all comes down to is you’ve got to really love what chukar hunting has to offer or you’ll soon become the old fart that makes up excuses not to be out there. Chukar hunting isn’t a sport of activity from the moment you get out of your rig. There have been times when I haven’t fired a shot for three hours and than fire twenty times in the next half hour before my return walk back to the truck. It would have been easy to return to the truck after an hour and say the bird numbers are low but that wouldn’t be true. You got to give it a chance and sometimes you might travel all that way and never fire a shot but remember, that’s hunting.
As we age, it becomes hard to say, “I just can’t do that like I use to”, but it happens. It’s happening to me a little more each year and one year I won’t be able to chukar hunt any more, but it won’t be because their aren’t any birds or places to hunt. It also won’t be because of the number of hunters. But for now you can expect to see me as far up the mountain as I can possibly get following my dogs because that is what I love and I know the chukars are there somewhere. It hasn’t changed since the 70’s and won’t change much before I leave this world.
My only hope is that I can encourage people to get out there and enjoy chukar hunting as much as I have. It’s the best sport with dogs there is.