This winter has been very kind to the chukars. My last two chukar hunts on Jan. 21st and 23rd showed much promising news. The hunts were in different area and different weather conditions.
The first hunt was on the Snake river canyons and was a cold, snowy and foggy day. From the time we got out of the truck until our arrival back at the truck we were into chukar. Of course most were wild but it was promising anyway.
As we moved up the mountain we were continually seeing tracks where birds were running uphill. Quite often I would here birds flushing as the dogs tried to get them to hold but usually didn’t even see the birds.
At one point I saw a covey land on the mountain and Grady was heading that way. I tried to video him as I hoped he would slam onto point. That’s something you don’t get to see often while chukar hunting due to the topography. Well, it didn’t work here either and when I hiked over and followed the bird tracks I could see that they had ran up the hill about three hundred yards and then flushed. They must have ran pretty fast because if you watch the video closely you’ll see them fly across the screen.
From the time that I saw them land until they flew couldn’t have been more than three minutes. These educated birds knew how to escape danger and that is why hunters are responsible for only 8% of chukar mortalities. For the most part of the day we were in the fog and seeing tracks and hearing birds flushing was our only indication that birds were even there. But once in a while the Alpha would buzz and I followed it’s direction to a couple of pointing dogs.
It called for some fast shooting before the birds got out of sight, something I’m not good at. Most of the time the birds flushed without any lead chasing them.
Sometimes the rewards were a bird in hand. But that was usually when the fog had lifted some.
Hunt number two was down in the Owyhee’s on a cold, calm and blue sky day. Much different than our hunt two days earlier. It was hard to leave Jake behind but I decided to hunt Grady alone and give Jake’s bones a rest. As we started the hunt the area was thick with frost from the morning fog which had now melted away. It was quite a while before we found our first covey of chukar. The Medusa grass was super thick as we left the rig and over the years I have found that chukars avoid it.
It wasn’t long after leaving the Medusa that I started to see droppings and soon had my first point.
It was the biggest covey of the day and numbered around forty birds. As usual the birds flew down hill but fled in different directions. It looked like a good opportunity to pick up some singles or small groups, so we went in the direction of some of the birds and got some pretty good action. As the day continued on it produced some great dog work with several new covey’s of birds along the way.
Along with the great dog work I surprised myself once in a while with a good shot followed by some fun retrieves to watch. Grady is only dog I have had that wants to put the bird in my hand. All my other dogs were fine just to drop the bird at my feet. I have always been fine with that also and was happy to bend over and pick the bird up. Usually that’s the least we can do as hunters after a dog has carried that bird straight up hill to us.
This hunt was over 100 miles as the crow flies from my hunt two days earlier. I saw equally as many chukars and they were just as educated. There is very little chance of me or other hunters exterminating them. With only a week left in the season these birds will be pairing up in the coming months and getting ready for Spring nesting. Hopefully Spring nesting and rearing conditions will be optimum for a great production of chukars to chase next Fall. My last two hunts show that there is plenty of potential for a good year with the number of birds that survived the winter. Meanwhile I’ll keep on following my boys and let them show me how it’s done.
Happy hunting for the rest of the season.