This season was much better than I could ever imagine. For those not familiar with me, I had a bad break in my right leg in March and a back operation Oct. 1. So my season was looking pretty short and on the more gentle slopes. But thanks to two dogs, my reigning chukar champions, I didn’t get to spend much time on the gentler slopes. Plus I got more birds than I probably deserved.
My shortened season comprised of 52 chukar hunts. Most of them were pretty darn painful but as most of you know, just watching the pups takes a lot of the discomfort away. When you get right down to it, who doesn’t hurt after a chukar hunt?
Early in the season my lack of mobility had me wondering about bird numbers and most of the birds I was seeing were being busted by the dogs. Especially Grady. I figured he got some bad habits during my rehab for the leg. We spent three months driving back country roads in my side by side while the dogs got exercise. I couldn’t put any weight on my leg so Grady learned how much fun it was to chase turkey’s. I thought it was kind of funny until chukar season came around. Three or four trips and Grady got back on track and by mid November the two of them became chukar machines.
Jake and Grady started finding birds just about everywhere we went. They also did a great job of letting me see them. Once we got in the real chukar country we started realizing that bird numbers were good. We had a few bad trips but for the most part saw good numbers of birds and with the mild winter we should have a good batch of chukars for breeding this Spring.
A lot of hunters complained about the amount of new chukar hunters out this year. I have to say I did see more rigs with dog boxes parked along the roads, but only once did I encounter another hunter on the hill. Fish and Game also says there has been an increase in hunting license sales. Could be all the people moving into the state and also could be because of the virus people are looking for something to do away from others. Either way it hasn’t made much of an impact on next Springs bird production.
My last chukar hunt was yesterday, Jan. 30. I think it covers all the aspects of what I have just written. Because of the rains the day before, Greg and I decided to go to a more popular spot and not tear up any roads or get the rig covered with inches of mud once more. As we drove in we could see evidence of other rigs ahead of us but you could have 100 rigs in this country and people would still be able to hunt away from others. About two miles before the road ended I dropped Greg off with his girls, Katie and Elsa. He was going to make a swing back up hill and eventually either see me up there or meet me at the rig. Problem was when I got to the meeting spot, another hunter had just arrived there and was heading in the direction I was supposed to go. I had to leave the truck there because that was the meeting place. To complicate it more, there was another rig parked there also. It had dog boxes so I assumed it was a chukar hunter. I had no idea which way he went.
I picked the most unlikely ridge to go up and me and chukar champions headed up. We gained elevation fast and never saw or heard the other hunters. Later I asked Greg if he ever saw the other hunter that took off his way and he said he never saw him or heard a shot. After gaining about 1000 feet and not seeing a dropping or having any dog action I was wondering about my decision. At least I had gotten away from where the foot traffic was most likely to go. I had reached a ridge where I had to make a decision. It was time to test my two rules of chukar hunting. Number one is, many times it takes 2 hours of walking before you ever even find a chukar. Then all hell can break loose with the numbers you find. Second is, you got to believe. I decided to head up this canyon.
I also knew the birds were more likely towards the top of these canyon walls. Theory one was a little short. It was about two and a half hours before I saw my first bird. It was off a distant point that took me a while to get to.
But when I got there, it was well worth it. Not only a solid good looking Jake but also a nice covey of cooperating chukar.
They only offered one shot but I connected. I immediately knew the dogs were going to earn their keep today. The bird rolled and rolled down the steep slope and when it hit a clump it would make a kick and role further. Eventually Jake caught up to the bird and brought it up the hill to me. Those who have watched a dog do this know how much we owe them just for one retrieve.
For the next hour and a half I was in chukar heaven. We saw no fewer than 100 chukars. When the boys weren’t pointing they were making long retrieves.
If it were less steep country things might have gone quicker because there was so much action but it took me sometimes 10 to 15 minutes to get to the point. I had already spent five minutes getting to this point and honor.
And then it took a couple of minutes to slowly move in front of Grady for the kill.
Trust me the hill is steeper than it looks. But the rewards were worth it.
The video feature of the camera wasn’t working or I could have filmed both dogs brining the birds back to me.
The rest of the day progressed that way. It’s just easier showing the pictures and letting you enjoy an epic hunt. They don’t come very often.
Jake and Grady never let me down. Every point had birds, but sometimes the birds didn’t cooperate for a shot. Although we had several points on our way down to the rig this was the last hunting pose the chukar champions gave me.
And I moved out in front and did my job.
A double to end the season with.
This season was no let down. Anyhow not for me or my hunting partner Greg Allen. Chime in and let me know how your season was. Hopefully I’ll hear from some of you and we’ll be in touch this Spring.