I got some feed back from a few older chukar hunters that have spent many years going down south to hunt the different types of quail. For the most part, they all are escaping the cold weather. It seems like the bones chill more easily after the age of 70. It looks like it’s not as simple as just pulling up stakes and having a great hunt in another state.
It seems like no matter what species of quail they are hunting, they are all affected by the amount of moisture. Greg Munther, a great friend of mine, says the more moisture the better. In the 23 years he has hunted in the south, he said this was the most dismal. He cited many other reasons for the decline in numbers this year. One of them is the small home range of the quail. It would be easy to eliminate a covey if you keep hunting them. He also mentioned over grazing as a problem. I think that happens almost everywhere.
I know Greg doesn’t solely hunt quail while he is down there. He is also a very accomplished bow hunter who hunts only with a long bow and arrows he makes. While he is down south he also takes time searching for big game.
So here is my dilemma. I don’t have much of a life. It seems like all I care to do is chase my dogs after birds. The bird of my choice has always been chukars. If I go south, is there enough birds for me to spend every day for a month chasing them or would I be the guy that ruins a good thing? I know there is never a chance of hurting the chukar population with a gun in Idaho. Even on low number of bird years, a man and a gun is no threat on the population. The country is to steep and rough and chukars do not have a home range. They can set their wings and be on a different mountain range in seconds and that range has the same things as the one they just left.
But that’s one of the reasons to head south. I hear the hills aren’t quite as steep and treacherous. Besides getting out of the cold, that sure sounds good. I could stand to not have my body aching after every hunt. I don’t think my dogs would care either way. Which brings up another dilemma.
Would the pups be alright at hunting just a few hours a day or would they drive me crazy sitting around camp? How many covey points make them happy.? Dave from Washington says he is averaging two covey’s a day on New Mexico quail. Today, although it was miserable walking and cold, I had 13 points and all but two were covey’s.
Basically it sounds like my choice is fewer birds but easier hunting in nice weather or more birds but paying a higher price on the body and cold weather. It’s hard to imagine hunting anywhere else. I know eastern Oregon and southwest Idaho very well and have over 100 different places to find birds but not one of them is very kind to old men. Even on low number years, some of those 100 plus spots have birds to chase. Honestly I can somewhat handle the steepness, but when the hill gets covered with snow and ice, I start questioning my sanity.
Any help would be appreciated.
Here’s a few pictures of Greg’s dogs in the nice weather hunting quail. Oakley (4), pointing some Mearns quail.
Oakley, once again while Greg’s partner moves in.
Here’s Greg’s GSP, Lucy. She’s 13 and showing off her trophies.
Those pictures were taken down south on January 22. Looks pretty comfy. Now let’s fast forward to today, Jan.25th in Idaho.
Temperature at beginning of hunt was 17 degrees and 25 degrees when I came off the hill. Sun was shining and creating a nice slick mud on the bare slopes and post holing on the snowy north slopes. Very comfortable walking weather, but each time I’d break through the crust something hurt. But there were plenty of birds and the boys had no problem finding them. Grady,
had a covey pinned behind this rock outcropping and found another single a little later.
But Jake stole the show with this staunch point as I moved below him.
The birds actually gave me time to take the picture and get a double. This second point was a little awkward but the birds didn’t care and held anyhow.
Of course we all love multiple dogs on point. Here’s Jake honoring Grady for a rare moment. Two doubles on the same day.
And then there are those long distance points. Once again, Jake honoring Grady. You have to look hard to find Grady. It took me forever to post hold down the north slope and finally come up underneath the dogs. Sadly, it was only a single but it flew straight up in the air for an easy shot.
It was a very successful day on the hill. Dogs did great and I shot well. But even my fingers hurt as I type this post and my feet keep cramping up. Somehow I got to figure out which is better, easier hunting or more birds.
Side note on the warm south. While hiking today in the white stuff I came across this black widow in one of the game tracks. She was moving slow but what the heck is she doing out there?