I had another so so day on the hill Friday. It was a little warmer than I liked but the boys insisted on getting back on the mountain so we went. I hunted a new place for the year but an area that I have had success in the past. Since I’ve been seeing most chukars up high, I decided to have Barb drop me off on an old logging road and I would hunt the ridges down to my truck 2200 feet and four miles as the crow flies below. By the time we hit the truck, I had covered just over 8 miles, Jake over 17 and of course Grady Had 27 miles and there was still about 1500 feet of elevation gain.
A short walk out of the timber got us onto the steep open chukar hills and I was soon creeping toward a point and honor by Grady and Jake. As I reached Grady, he broke on about ten birds running on the next slope just out of gun range. That’s not how it’s supposed to happen but sometimes it does, so off we went to find the next covey. It wasn’t long and we found covey number two with the same results. I had Grady whoa a couple of times hoping that might help him remember he was supposed to hold even when the birds are running. It seemed to work because we soon found a small covey of huns and one hit the ground for a retrieve. I don’t think they were running but we had success all the same.
Then the bird finding hit the skids. We covered the slopes up and down and side to side looking for chukars but couldn’t find them. The steep mountains should have held chukars but not only could we not find them, we didn’t see much sign. One of my “you gotta believe rules” is at times you walk 2 hours without seeing anything and suddenly in the next half hour you are in chukar nirvana. It wasn’t so that day. In the next three hours I saw one small covey busted by Grady 300 yards away.
Finally, Jake had a point with Grady on honor. I was tickled with a covey rise of about twenty birds and once again the Browning shotgun brought a bird down. I watched the birds swing around the ridge and decided to pursue them. It wasn’t long and we had another point on the covey, and as I flushed the covey two more covey’s flushed. One from above me and another below. Suddenly we were in about 50 chukars. We stayed at that elevation and pushed around the slopes getting some good dog and bird action and seeing different birds flush from above and below keeping us excited about more encounters. In that hour I had no fewer than a dozen points and some great action. We probably could have found even more but the truck was in sight, I was out of water and my legs were tired, so we headed off the hill.
At the truck we were greeted by two other hunters who had pulled up and watched me coming down the hill. Noticing some birds in my vest they commented on my fortune and said they had hunted three different spots and hadn’t seen a bird. Of course, I fibbed a little and said I didn’t see many either.
These hunters were quite a bit younger than me so I’m sure they cover a lot more country than I can, but I had to wonder how well they covered it. I was stuck on the mountain and had no choice but to hunt it hard all the way to my truck. I have to admit to the feeling of this hunt being a bust but we finally found them.
The other positive note is that the birds I got were all this years hatch.
I’m not ready to go negative on the chukar count this year. The conditions have been pretty drastic so far, and I do believe once we get some good moisture and some frosty conditions those birds that are so hard to find right now might start showing up. I could tell by my conversation with the two young men that they were ready to give it up already for the year and I can understand their feelings. Sometimes it takes action to keep bird hunters on the hill. For me, I believe they are out there and at times it takes a lot of inactive miles to finally find the birds and have a day of fun in just one hour.