If I had only one month to chase chukars it would be November. The heat is gone and most places have had enough moisture that I don’t have to pack too much extra water. Scenting conditions are as good as they are going to get and the dogs don’t act beat after each retrieve. The northern slopes are beginning to become frozen but still negotiable. I was fortunate to get to spend two days covering some good country with the boys and have some great success.
I had planned on staying for a week, but a sore back and some light headedness told me the smart thing to do was go home and sit in front of the fire and regroup. I was supposed to schedule an appointment with the back doc this week anyhow. Barb was amazed that for once I did the right thing.
That being said, the two days I had were fantastic, but not easy. I hunted two spots that I had hunted earlier this year and found good number of birds. It was the first time this year I covered a spot already hunted earlier. Although the temperature reached 40 degrees, the steep northern slopes were frozen and tougher to negotiate. I tried to hunt the sunny tops where there was plenty of green poop, but the dogs had different ideas. They were constantly going down the frozen side and finding birds. I would make my way to their points, but usually have to head back up after the birds flushed wild.
At one point I got as far away from the northern slopes as I could and hunted the southern slopes which were easier walking and had just as much sign but the dogs couldn’t seem to find the birds. The thermals were just as strong there as the other side and maybe stronger. Of course we all know that dogs are better predators than humans, so I finally gave in to them and let them take me to where the birds were. They eventually worked their way back to the northern slopes.
Maybe someone can explain to me why the birds would choose to be on the frozen slopes that won’t see the sun again for another two months? It doesn’t make sense but that’s where we found the birds on both days, in two different spots. With all the sign on the top I expected some points up there but I was walking in on point after point on the shaded side of the hill. Maybe Jake and Grady were bumping them from the top and I didn’t see them, but I’ll never know.
The good thing is there was almost constant action. The dogs were picking up bird scent from the thermals coming from below and some times the birds were over 100 yards down the hill. The picture opportunities were endless but I had decided to leave the camera at home this trip. Because of the footing many of the birds flushed without being shot at but every once in a while I got some solid footing and threw lead in their direction. The hills were steep enough to ensure a long retrieve by the dogs and also steep enough they always got to see the bird fall.
I think that both days I could have done even better by getting further down the slopes but I would have to come back up the slope to get back to the truck, so I often encouraged the boys to quit heading down. Outside of the hurting from those steep slopes, it worked out pretty well for me. I now know why Greg Munther (78) didn’t make it to Idaho this year to hunt chukars with me and opted to spend a little more time chasing quail in Arizona.
November is by far the best month for me to chase chukars. As I mentioned, those northern steep slopes are starting to freeze and will be worse in the coming two months. You tend to use different muscles on that solid ground. The feet don’t dig into the soft dirt. I know I’m a lot more tensed up with every step when it is frozen. Hopefully that is the reason why I seem to get sorer as the coolness comes in. This year it seems really bad or maybe I’m a puss.
I’m getting pretty good at complaining about how tough it is but in the end it’s great to be able to show my success picture taken after we return home. It makes me look good but in reality I would never have even been able to get to any of those birds without good dogs.