Over the last week it’s become obvious to me that I have a different outlook on what a bad year, average year and good year of chukar hunting looks like. From some of the texts I’ve got as well as the lack of success pictures on other blogs and negative outings posted on them, I’ve realized what looks good to me isn’t so good to most chukar hunters.
Yesterday’s hunt is a perfect example. It was supposed to be a cooler day with the high only 70 degrees. The high was only 71 but it hit that at 10:00 and was very clear skies and no breeze at all. After 3 hours of hunting, we had run out of water and were headed back to the rig. The dogs were totally spent. I had only two points and one of them ended up being false. Like everyone else, just having a outing with the dogs is good enough for me. Even coming home with only one bird, I still considered it a good bird day.
In the three hours and four miles on the mountain I saw somewhere around 75 to 100 birds. Obviously, most birds were busted without a point and from a distance. The dogs were simply not smelling them until they were on top of the scent. Had conditions been better my game bag might have had more birds in it.
With that being said, let’s suppose I was camping with a group of chukar hunters. Being honest, what would the hunters think about my hunt when I returned to camp? The first reaction would probably be that I didn’t see many birds if I only returned with one bird and that I must have seen a lot if I returned with a full game bag. After telling the group how many birds I saw, each one would have their opinion on whether that was a lot of birds or not.
To bring my blog into perspective I am going to try and explain what I feel is good bird numbers compared to bad numbers. To some, my good bird numbers might be disappointing. I’ve hunted chukars for at least fifty years but seriously for the last thirty. Until three years ago I have kept detailed records of my hunts. Content included things like miles covered by me as well as my dogs, elevation gain, birds shot, approximate number of birds seen, location, hours hunting, shots fired, number of points, birds off point and birds lost. A few years I even kept track of shells and gas as well as other things used for the hunts. Don’t do that. You don’t want to know the cost of each bird you brought home for consumption.
Here is some numbers that might put my blog into perspective as to what is good to me. First off, I consider seeing 100 birds in a days hunt a good day. Not just pointed birds, but all chukars seen. If we see that many birds and haven’t been able to make something good happen either the conditions were poor or me and the boys aren’t doing our job. I’m not talking about seeing the same covey of twenty birds five times but actually 100 different chukars.
I remember hearing stories of back in the 70’s of seeing 500 to 1000 birds in a day. I hunted back in those days and can’t remember ever seeing even close to that many birds. The best year I ever had was 2010 and had several days of seeing up to 250 birds. I remember how it seemed like more but the excitement and imagination can quickly cloud the mind. I remember bow hunting one year and seeing this big bull elk with his cows. I couldn’t get close because of the cows around him and when I got back to camp I told the story of how he was surrounded by at least 30 cows. After telling the story I thought about it more and remember only seeing 14 elk, counting the bull. I guess I thought thirty just made the story better. Fishermen and hunters are notorious for stretching numbers.
Here are numbers that are absolute for me. The year 2010 was my best chukar year ever. It seemed like all I had to do was get Riley into chukar country and he’d find plenty of birds to give me all the shooting I needed to get a limit of birds. All I had to do was shoot straight. Fat chance of that. Most days we saw between 150 to 200 birds. I averaged 1.2 miles per bird and 1.9 birds per hour. Elevation gain was 282 feet per bird. I hunted chukars 80 times that year and hunted 54 different locations, hunting one area four times and the rest not more than twice. It was a fantastic year for in me.
Over the years of keeping records I have had only one other year that came close to 2010. That was 2005. I averaged 2.05 birds per hour and 1.57 miles per bird while covering 259 feet in elevation for each chukar. It was also a great year but I only got out 66 times.
Since the year 2000 here is my eighteen year average through 2017. Miles per bird was 1.69 and birds per hour was 1.3. Elevation gain was just over 300 feet per bird. The stats show there isn’t really that much difference between a good year and a poor year for me. Like most hunters, I just don’t get out as many times on those down years.
Maybe this will put me more in line with the hunters reporting a slow year for them. I’m definitely not the most successful chukar hunter out there. It just takes less to please me than most.
I’ll be heading over to Oregon for three days on the opener. If you see my camper along the reservoir, please stop by and let me know how you’re hunt was. Good luck out there and be safe.