Last week, the dogs and I headed over to Oregon for a four day excursion and chasing chukars. The recent rains gave me promise of better hunting conditions and I was optimistic. I also was in search of a friend I had never met before but had had several conversations via email and phone about chukar hunting. I finally met Steve Schwinn and a friend of his, Mark. Steve has given me a wealth of information with his chukar scouting and was the character I expected.
Day one had me on the mountain with two dogs ready to find birds. I was excited to find the first covey as I was driving. I had never hunted that spot before but decided why not. Of course, Grady had seen the birds also, so it was hard to keep him contained while I put the collars on. It wasn’t long and Grady had the birds flying to different parts of the county. I kind of knew that might happen but was hoping for the better. The country wasn’t quite as steep as I’m used to but where there is one covey there must be more. And more there was. We spent the day chasing huns and chukars and even got a point on one lone quail that met his demise. Good dog work was spotty and for some reason both dogs held several covey’s as I approached but started doing the busting making for unsafe shots. We did have some good moments and things went the way they are supposed to but I have to admit to being a little frustrated and taking a couple of birds that the dogs sent past me without pointing. It was a good start to our outing and I was hoping for better dog work in the next few days.
Excuse the shorts picture but I was sitting in the camper giving my deformed leg a rub down and decided to get a success photo. That old leg still gives me lot’s of problems, but it gets me where I want to go.
Day two turned out much better. We drove into a familiar location that I had scouted this summer. From there it was straight up hill on a cow trail to where I wanted to hunt. On the way up we busted a covey of chukar and I could tell Grady was going to be a little crazy again. I whoa’d him a couple of times and mad him stay while I walked 100 yards or so ahead of him just to let him know I was still in charge and waited for the next covey of birds to see if he was going to cooperate. It seemed to work, although we had a couple of wild moments. I’m not sure, but I think part of the problem is that both dogs want to retrieve the dead bird and so they break trying to be the first dog to the dead bird if I get one. They both love bringing their prize back to me. I was fortunate and shot well that day. We headed off the mountain with a limit of birds which gave me an opportunity to work the dogs on some birds as we headed for the truck. It worked well being able to concentrate more on the dogs than where the birds were going to flush.
Day three, yesterday, was a special day for many reasons. First off, I was going to hunt a miserable mountain that a past dog, Riley and I had gone eight for eight on with all birds pointed and retrieved and all points with a picture. I’ll never forget that day. Riley had to be put down at the age of seven due to health concerns. It was nice to revisit his mountain where he had many of contacts with bighorns. He even got chased through the brush by a ram one time.
The other reasons the day was special, it was Barb and my anniversary as well as my daughters birthday. Yes, she was born on our first anniversary and what a gift from heaven. She past June 14 this year and I had planned on getting high on the mountain yesterday and visit with her before my hunt. Driving to our hunt I was greeted to this fantastic sunrise.
I knew she was there with me. The dogs and I spent a half hour or so sitting on a rock and remembering the past and shedding a few tears before we resumed our hunt.
The heavy wind made for tough dog work but Jake and Grady did well, holding many of the covey’s we found. There were many covey’s, the most we’ve seen this year. It was also an area that had lot’s of cover compared to most of the places I have hunted this year. Even though I packed the camera, I had a tough time getting pictures because of the heavy cover. Here is the only picture I got of a point and was about the only level spot on the mountain.
You can see by the back ground how steep it was but most places had good bunch brush and sage. Once again, this place offered much shooting and we were left on the hill with a limit of birds and a long trek back to the truck. Once again we did some dog work without the shooting.
Back at camp, we counted our birds and only needed two more chukars for a possession limit. We decided to cut the trip a day short and head home. I took a final success picture and looked at the Alpha to confirm how many miles we had covered. It was gratifying to know this body still can cove some ground thanks to two great dogs. I had gone over twenty miles in the three days, Grady over 80 and Jake 60 miles. I gained just over 5000 feet and who knows how much elevation gain the dogs had. As my hunting partner, Greg Allen says, that’s a lot of satisfaction.
It was the kind of trip we all hope for. No break downs, no injuries and lot’s of action. Jake, Grady and I are paying the price for such a good trip today. Stiffness and sore. But what a fun trip.
I saved the best for last. About five minutes after the boys and I left the rock we were visiting with my daughter on, this magnificent animal showed up.
I felt like it was God’s way of saying “I have your little girl here in my hands”.