Man, did we get rain. Saturday evening the thunderstorms came rolling in and with them came a great lightening show as well as the most rain I have seen at one time in a while. We got .83 inches of rain in the first bout, which only lasted about 30 minutes, and by sunrise Sunday morning the total of all the storms that rolled through was 1.9 inches of rain. I was pretty excited about the moisture but not with the two trees that blew over on the property. One across my gravel driveway which had partially got washed away. Obviously, I was not going scouting on Sunday. But, I did get out yesterday and I’ll tell you my findings before I get on to my weekend story and if you’re just concerned about bird numbers you can stop reading after that news.
Monday I headed east to see how far the rains went or if they were just local around Horseshoe Bend. Pretty much, the rains had covered most of southwest Idaho all the way to the Oregon border but obviously not as heavy everywhere. When the boys and I got to the spot we wanted to scout there were some water puddles along the road and the cheat had been laid down by the heavy rains and wind. It was a steep and miserable hill but over the past years I had always found decent number of birds in this area.
It was both a good and a bad hike. The bad was that even though it was only 75 degrees or so, it was so humid, I got my butt kicked. Plus, the water for the dogs I hoped to find was not there and the water I packed for them ran out sooner than I hoped After 2 1/2 miles for me, through some pretty steep country, we were back at the truck and both dogs were equally as whipped. The steep country made me realize how bad of shape I am in and that I need to do some strengthening on my previously broken leg.
Okay, here is what you want to hear about. How many chukars I found? I saw a good number of birds even though we didn’t get to where I would have liked to. But, they were definitely scattered. I only saw two coveys of about ten chukar and both of them had what I would guess to be about 8 week old birds. They were pretty close to full grown, but you could tell by their flight and sounds that they were first year birds. I actually got some footage but there are some things in the background that would give away my location so I’ll just tell you I was on the Idaho/Oregon border. All of the other birds I saw were scattered. We’d see two or three birds here and go another 200 yards and bump another bird. Far above us four or five birds would flush and fly over the ridge and minutes later a couple of more would take off from another location and fly a different way. We bumped several singles and some doubles and almost every bird was a first year bird. They were scattered pretty much everywhere as if someone had just hunted through the area an hour earlier. Much different than what I usually find this time of the year.
The one thing that I didn’t see that I usually see this time of the year was any really young birds. Not saying they weren’t there, just didn’t see any. I’d say I saw somewhere around 60 to 70 birds on our hike. That’s the chukar part of this post. Read on if interested on why I’m so excited to just get back on the mountain with the dogs on a cool day, whether we find birds or not.
You know about June. The worst days of my life. Having to deal with the many things involved with my daughters death were pretty much mentally draining to say the least. But through it all, Barb and I decided that we were going to spend more time on the road and buy a better camper that would accommodate longer chukar trips as well as just camping trips. We finally found what we figure might be the perfect camper trailer and work out a deal.
Dealing with these kind of purchases is something I don’t do well. Luckily, I have the best wife in the world as well as the best marriage and I finally convinced the salesman to just put Barb’s name on the camper so I wouldn’t have to sign nothing and listen to the whole spill. I left and took a walk for an hour while Barb took care of all the details. Timing was perfect and we departed to come back and pick up the new camper with our current camper as the trade on Saturday about 2 o’clock. The next 50 hours had me just wishing life was as simple as just walking out my front door and being able to walk up a chukar mountain with my dogs and never having to do anything else.
At 2:00 Saturday, I was 2 1/2 miles from the trailer dealer when I saw this huge cloud of blue/grey smoke behind the trailer. I quickly pulled over to find I had fried the bearings on one of the wheels. I mean it had gotten really hot and the wheel was about to fall off. Thinking the worse, and it was, I called the dealer and they sent a mechanic out and together we finally got the axle chained up enough to limp the trailer to the dealer on three legs. It took about two hours of crawling, chaining and jacking in the 100 degree heat and on black pavement but we finally got the camper to the dealership.
Of course, the price of our trade in just went down a couple of thousand dollars, so the paper work comes into play again. As Barb is dealing with this I’m out looking over our new trailer which had just been delivered from the coast. Barb and I like to watch football games when we go on our trips and I noticed there wasn’t an inverter so I wanted them to install one. Once again, this might change the paper work, so I decided just to pay cash to get this going as soon as possible. The work was to be done Monday morning and I could pick up the trailer that afternoon.
Okay, we got her done and head home for the rest of the weekend and plans on picking the camper up Monday. On the way home we can see the lightening and the black clouds towards our house and are excited to see a good storm. By the time we get over the hill the storm had passed but the water puddles and debris as we came over the hills told us we missed a good one. Pulling into our drive way much of the gravel had been washed away by the .83 inches of rain that had fallen in 30 minutes and two trees were downed by the heavy wind. It wasn’t a big deal because I knew that with a little hard work on the next day I could get that cleaned up. It was late in the day and we were excited to see the next bout of weather that was headed our way.
What a light show we had! It’s been many years since we have seen a storm like that role through. We saw four different fires get started that were quickly extinguished by the heavy rains that followed. The rolling thunder was amazing. The light show finally stopped but the rain kept falling for a few more hours putting another inch of rain on the ground to add to the previous .83. That’s a lot of rain for this area. About three in the morning I woke up to take a leak and notice a drip, drip on the back of the toilet. Oh, boy there’s water dripping from the bath fan. After a few remarks Barb ask me what’s wrong? I just tell her to go back to sleep but know that the hits just keep coming. When the sun came up Sunday morning I actually get some good news. After crawling up on the roof and through the attic, the leak was from the falling rain and wind actually bouncing the rain drops up through the roof vent and down the flex. No damage, thank you very much. So, on to clean up for the day.
Monday morning had the dogs and I headed east for the scouting trip I mentioned. The plans were to spend some time on the mountain and then head back through Boise and pick up the new trailer. Outside of getting my butt kicked by the mountain, everything was going as planned. I pulled in and hooked up the new trailer and headed home. I was excited about how easy it pulled and getting it home. My truck has always been a great truck and the only problems it has ever given me were stupid things that I have done. So when I heard a loud pop and immediate loss of power while going up Horseshoe Bend hill I was a little surprised. The amount of black smoke from the diesel engines exhaust was unbelievable. I was reduced to three miles an hour until I found a safe place to get off the road. Suddenly, I’m that guy that I always accuse of not taking better care of his vehicle.
I have nothing to do but call the tow truck and get my rig towed to Horseshoe Bend and keep my head hidden in shame. The tow truck experience was great and a neighbor picked me up and hauled the camper but to my house where it sits so pretty waiting to be loaded and used. My pick up however, is sitting at the garage in town waiting for the damage report. As I’m finding every place in the states, the mechanics shop is short a man today and it will be a while before they assess the damage. So, I have nothing to do but type this boring post and wait for better times.
God, I love chukar hunting and those simple times.