The weather yesterday felt more like November 2nd than December 2nd. The temperature at 4:00 when I got back to the truck was 54 degrees and the soil was dry. What a fabulous day to have been on the mountain.
I started the day out just to go on a shorter hunt but like usual things changed quickly. I left the truck and headed to a familiar place mainly to check on a rattlesnake den and see if any snakes might be venturing out on the warm rocks to sun themselves. It was only 10:00 and the rocks hadn’t warmed up much and we didn’t find any.
From there we headed over the hill to the north slope. Normally, this time of the year you can’t even walk those northern slopes because they are frozen and steep. In past years the birds take refuge from hunters on the south side by diving down onto these slopes where hunters can’t get to them. Many times there is also 6 inches or more of crusted snow by this time. But not so far this year.
Picture don’t do the steepness of the country justice. Here’s a short video of Grady searching out birds.
As mentioned this north side is usually froze in December but on this hunt there were water seeps everywhere for the dogs to get a drink.
There was also chukar poop everywhere.
The only problem was, we weren’t finding birds. Grady bumped one single chukar and a small covey busted from up above but that was all we saw in the first hour and a half. But the sounds of chukars and the sign kept us pushing on and up. I’m sure there were birds below us also but for some reason I always keep pushing upwards. Probably because that’s where Grady wanted to go. At one point, Grady and Jake were on point and as I approached a flat spot I could hear and see birds flying high above and the point the dogs were on was just them looking up the hill at the 50 or more birds crow hopping around.
It sounded like a chukar feed lot. By as much sign as I was seeing on the ground and the amount of chukar talk up higher I could tell they had just been moving up the hill away from us. This picture doesn’t show the steepness of that draw and I knew if I tried to go straight up it would not only kick my butt the birds would probably only flush wild on us. So we side hilled up to the right hoping to catch them on top. I have no idea where all those chukars went. There were several false points and the sign was thick but no chukars. As I began to top out on one ridge, Grady was on a no question about it point.
I snapped a quick picture and moved over the ridge. To my surprise there was a covey of bonus birds that flushed. Like huns sometimes do, they flushed in a tight group and at my one shot two birds fell. That always helps the shooting percentage. Both boys picked up a bird and brought them back up to me.
We were now on the ridge that separated the north and south slopes and water was scarce here so the boys were glad I packed water for them to help wash the feathers out and wet their throats. We had gone from 3000 feet in elevation to 5200 feet in elevation and although the slopes had tamed down some, I didn’t want to go any higher. Besides we knew there were plenty of birds behind us. I felt like the north side cover would have been a lot better for getting birds to hold but my two predators preferred the south slopes. So I complied and followed them. It was better on my back and although we saw plenty of birds flush way out wild the boys provided some fun action.
We had a few false points where it was obvious the birds had been there but I also had many solid points with the no doubt posture. I knew it was now my job to perform. I hardly ever get more than one shot anymore. I’m just getting slow but more often than not the lead shot hit’s it’s mark and at least one of the dogs gets a bird in mouth.
We had been on the hill for over 5 hours and not only was I tiring out, so was Jake. As we hunted our way down the hill, he had several honors from the sitting position.
I think he has finally accepted the fact that he can’t keep up with that younger dog and has figured out how to save energy. Maybe his hips hurt like my back and it helps to relieve the pressure. Whatever the reason, good for him. There are no judges up here for style points. It ended up being a long day and we spent almost 6 hours on the chukar mountain. But once we got into the birds it was worth it. The dogs did some great stuff and I got to enjoy watching them do what they do best. Plus we’ll be eating well tonight.
Final note to this December 2nd day. As we drove the dirt road back to the highway, there was a bull snake sunning on the road. He was moving quick enough that I couldn’t get the camera out soon enough before he moved into thick cover. The temperature gauge said 54 degrees but it was probably ten or fifteen degrees more radiating off the road.