Here I am sitting at a desk typing another blog. I’m sure most of you hard hunters are wondering if I really get out as much as I say and if I have a life. A comment by Pat H. on my last blog made me realize how little you chukar hunters know of me and how I got to where I am. After taking a short drive this morning with the dogs, I decided not to hunt in the 8 degree temperature with a slight breeze even making it worse. The sun was shining but I just couldn’t muster up the toughness I needed. I was thinking over Pat’s comments and thought maybe I’d better introduce myself a little better. It might be long but here goes.
I’ve been in Idaho for all my life. I grew up in Boise and moved 25 miles north of Boise when I was 45 and 26 years later still live here. I went to Boise State College on a track scholarship and graduated as a teacher. Yes, I know it is now Boise State University. I had several other scholarship offers but chose to stay home, due to my love of where I was.
I didn’t hunt until I was 16 and then didn’t hunt much until I went to college. I developed a love for pheasant and duck hunting and also was blessed with success on big game hunting. After college, I taught and coached for 11/2 years where I realized I didn’t have time to do anything but coach during the hunting season. I decided to give up teaching and became an electrician so that I could go on a two week elk hunt. It never happened. I was still strapped with a full time job but at least I could be a weekend warrior. It filled the void.
At 23 I married Barbara. One of our first dates was a deer hunt. I knew anyone that was going to stay with me was going to have to accept hunting. God Bless her for putting up with me. Although she doesn’t hunt anymore, she does have 3 deer,2 elk, 2 turkey’s and almost a chukar to her credit. But she still goes with me on many hunts and tends the camp.
It wasn’t long before we had two wonderful children. My daughter, Kerri, came first with my son Doug, coming a year and a half later. Of course they became very outdoors oriented with Barb and I taking them camping every available weekend we could. Although I got plenty of hunting in on those days, my life revolved around those three.
As far as work, I worked for the same company as an electrician for 6 years before the economy came to a halt. The company couldn’t give me enough hours so I had to start my own business. It was an electrical business, but my first job was building a fence. My second job was painting a house. Whatever it took to keep my family going. I did a little coyote hunting back then, the late 70’s, and found it pretty lucrative. I actually made more money off my furs one year than I did my job.
The economy finally got better and so did my business. After a while I finally could afford help and could finally keep Barb from having to come help me fish wires. Helping me and taking care of two kids was more than a full time job. Things became lucrative and I started making a pretty good living. But it wasn’t without a lot of hours. I was getting in 50 to 60 hours In five days so I could still get some hunting in. With all that, I never missed one of my child’s activities. That was always first. I am not complaining about the hours. It was my choice over having to hire more employees and having to worry about keeping them busy. I always felt that it was my responsibility to have them be able to provide for their families. So I took on more hours and of course made more money. During my years of owning the business I had three real vacations. Five days to Disneyland, Five days to Yellowstone and five days to Alaska to take my son fishing for graduation.
I mention all that because of my early retirement. I had told Barb that when we owned everything and felt we had enough I was going to retire and enjoy the outdoors more. At 59 the time came. The economy was taking another turn down and I knew by staying with the company my son Doug, and a long time employee would not be able to support their families so I retired and turned the company over to them. Barb, who had become a huge building block in the company wanted to stay and work for them as their secretary. Thanks to her, my thoughts of what enough savings would be enough and weren’t, we made it through.
My life was good. My daughter had married and had 2 wonderful boys and my son and his wife had two wonderful girls. We all lived within 30 miles of each other and were always doing things together. A life I always wanted. Being a little sentimental, I never wanted them far away. But I soon found it isn’t all about me. 2 1/2 years ago, Doug let me know he was moving to Hawaii with his family and selling his half of the business. It was something he always dreamed of but was afraid to do because he didn’t want to hurt my feelings and was only an electrician because he thought that would make me happy. It was hard for me to have him leave but I was so proud of him for being strong enough to do something I was so scared to do. He is very happy and calls us almost every day which makes it a little better.
My second set back came 8 months ago. Kerri committed suicide. She was the happiest person you ever saw. An ER nurse for over 22 years, a great mom, friend, daughter, and just a loved person by everyone she touched. Nobody knows what came over her but she was always involved with trauma at the hospital and this Covid stuff made times even harder. The weekend she died, Barb and I went on a camping trip and she was home sick in bed. We stopped to see her and her last words to me as she hugged me goodbye were “Dad you’re my best friend”.
I still have two grandson’s living in Boise. They are the best and always keep in touch with me and Barb. One of them is Conner who you all know as a great kid. I swear he likes hunting more than I ever did. That in itself will keep us located here. The other, Mac, is liking this snow we have this year and hitting the slopes with his snow board. So much for the social part of my life. How did I get so wrapped up in chukar hunting?
As mentioned, I got a lot of weekend hunting in and was lucky enough to hunt a variety of game and enjoyed it all. I got hooked on archery hunting for quite a while and became almost as passionate about that as I am now about chukar hunting. I was going to kill one of everything with my bow with the last being a brown bear in Alaska. Of course I saw the cost of doing all that stuff and reality sunk in. While I was hunting all this big game I chased birds with dogs when the archery season wasn’t open. I had a Brittany that could do it all, but I didn’t hunt the dog like I should have. As he aged I got a GSP at the advice of a friend.
I didn’t know it, but Tucker was going to make me a forever bird hunter. From our first hunt he showed me how to hunt with a dog. I shot my first limit of chukars over him at the age of five months. They were all pointed and partially retrieved. He was amazing and when I found myself in elk camp the next year wishing I was hunting chukars with Tucker, I was hooked and never have looked back.
Now I am on my fifth shorthair and retired. Barb, although she still likes to help down at the office, (her chance to get away from me) is retired and we’re trying to live that life I worked so hard for. I’ve kind of been doing that already. My early retirement made it possible to go up and down the hills on younger legs. But for the most part we really never strayed to far from home for much time because we wanted to see family. I usually take a long drive to the chukar hills with a once in a while three or four day trip with Barb.
We will never leave this place until someone puts us in an old folks home. We love being able to watch all the wildlife right out our window. I love hunting this country because I know it so well. There is no one that could give me the same success as I have here without it being on a hunting preserve. Not because there are more birds where I hunt than many other places, but because I am familiar with the country and know what it takes to sometimes find them. Now I am just hoping to spend time camping in those locations, shoot a few birds and relax some before moving to the next chukar mountain I’m familiar with.
With this cold winter, Barb and I have geared up for the next winter like this. We hope to find a warm destination where the dogs and I can chase birds. I know there is no absolute. I am just hoping that when that day comes someone might just point me in a direction and say “there’s birds up there somewhere, you just got to find them”. The opportunity for me and my dogs to be successful is all I want. The rest is in my hands. When the hunting’s done we’ll be back to our familiar grounds.
On that same note, once in a while I get a chukar hunter, cursing me for encouraging others to hunt the greatest pointing bird there is. There’s a word hunters use for people who give out hunting locations but it escapes me. I love chukar hunting too much to tell someone my hot spot. Heck, I don’t even know if I have one. But, I will never hold back on showing someone where to find birds. I have quite often given a hunter a mountain range to hunt with the instructions of if you cover that country enough you’ll find some chukars. It may take a few hours before you find them, but when you do you’re going to have some fun. Those that find the birds will not be divulging information knowing how hard it was to get them and those that don’t usually didn’t put out the effort and won’t be back.
So hopefully now you know how I got here. Not looking for any pats on the back, but I’m proud of my accomplishments and my family and have been successful without bending any rules. I hope to chukar hunt until Grady can’t hunt anymore and after that we’ll see what I can find to keep me as active as I can be. Something besides Barb chasing me with a broom because i got her floor muddy again.