16 days already over on the Idaho chukar season and there are lots of mixed views on bird numbers out there. I have to admit that most of what I am hearing is negative. Some saying bird numbers are down 40 to 50 percent from normal. I don’t buy that and can only go by my experience over the 6 days I spent in the field with the dogs. My experiences take me on the other side of normal years. Because of the amount of birds I’ve seen, I’ve jaunted out more times in the first two weeks than ever before.
Out of the six outings I had five good outings and one poor outing. The poor day blew me away because it was the coolest and dampest of them all. Guess I just wasn’t at the right place.
Maybe I’m an optimist and that is why I think I am seeing a higher than normal amount of birds than others. I consider a good day as a day when I get at least 8 opportunities at pointed birds. Whatever happens from that time doesn’t matter. Sometimes getting a shot doesn’t happen, sometimes I miss and sometimes the bird hits the ground. I’ve already had five of those good days but I have yet to shoot a daily limit of chukars. So, how many birds do I think I’ve seen? On that bad day I’d guess I saw maybe 20 birds and never had a point. On the five good days I saw at least 60 birds on the lower day and up to 200 birds on the best. Each of the six trips was a different area. Although I camped in the same spot for three of those days I hunted totally different birds. Some of them held like you hope early birds would but most birds were pretty wild. I believe the wildness is due to the sparse cover in many areas. Wednesday, when I saw the big bunches of chukars, I saw birds taking flight at 300 yards and swinging around the ridge. But it was also my best day this year with many birds holding tight on the steep rocky slopes with bunch grass cover.
I don’t know that having big running dogs is a plus because of the lack of scent and flighty birds. Even though some don’t consider 300 yards long range, that is Grady’s distance and several times I’ve seen him come running over the ridge watching something from way off. I’m sure he busted a covey and was watching them fly off. Those are the times I don’t know whether there was poor dog work or poor scenting conditions. But I’m also seeing it happen up close and know it’s usually not from poor dog work. I can’t even imagine how many birds he might have seen if he was a 600 yard or further running dog.
Another reason for my optimism, is the age of the birds. I have only shot two holdover birds this year. The rest were this year’s hatch and I have yet to see any of those birds the size of quail. No really late hatched birds.
I haven’t seen many huns this year, but that is pretty normal. I usually don’t see many until the year progresses. I have seen a few covey’s from the road on my trips in and out of the areas I hunt and know they are out there. I just haven’t given them an honest chase.If you read some of the other blogs out there, there is a lot of negative post about bird numbers in Idaho. I also haven’t seen as many success photos as usual so maybe it doesn’t take as much to please me as others. But I can say that it looks like the dogs and I are going to have enough opportunities in Idaho to keep us happy.
Two more warm days and then the weather is going to cool down enough to get us on the mountain a couple more times before we head to Oregon.
,Oregon’s bird report has come out and it’s a positive one. If you liked last year, you’re going to like this one better.
This is the best advice I can give right now. As soon as you are comfortable with being out on the mountain get out and find out for yourself. I think you’ll be happy with the bird numbers and I’m sure the dogs will be happy just trying to find them.