If you talk to most people about what animal call is the most stimulating I believe most would say bugling elk. I have to admit during my archery years I was captivated by elk. This year they were in my back yard entertaining Barb and I by the bedroom window. It was early morning late September and dark. Turn your volume up some to appreciate the sounds.
And in the Spring, there’s the gobble of the turkey. We had a lot of fun with these Jakes.
But now I have to say my dogs and I get more excited about the sounds of chukars than anything else. I don’t know why I’ve never filmed chukars talking and I’m sure I’m going to get that done. That call is what got my tail worked hard yesterday. The boys and I got a late start so we ended up at a fairly popular chukar hunting area. The temperature was 15 degrees as we headed up and never got a lot warmer but it was very still and comfortable. There was both open ground and heavy snow as we climbed and I was surprised to not find birds but we could hear constant calling from high above.
Grady was all over that and soon had a point about 200 yards up the hill. I knew it would take me forever to post hole up through the snow and was pleased when the birds evidently broke on the opposite side of the hill and Grady went on a short pursuit. We were now running short of bare slopes and the snow was getting deeper. Here’s where we had come up.
The snow was even deeper than it looked and each step I broke through. I stopped here to take a picture and marvel at the stillness and number of chukars I could hear. Most of the sounds were coming from above. I hadn’t seen a bird yet but there were tracks everywhere.
Three different times I heard what sounded like a single chukar flying but never saw the bird. I was too concentrated on the next step. Jake finally pointed some birds on the south slope with less snow.
He held them tight but the covey escaped by running to the top of the ridge and diving over the north side. I could have got a shot on the ground but gave that up many years ago. Meanwhile the chukars were still talking everywhere. I haven’t heard birds talking like this for years. Soon it was Grady’s turn and further up the same ridge he had a covey locked.
Although I tried to get into position at his right, it’s quite obvious what was going to happen. Yes, the birds took off from behind the rocks and flew safely somewhere behind them. Still there were birds calling from above and the tracks showed I hadn’t yet gotten above them.
I finally got as high as I wanted to be. I was tickled when I found the tracks of a side by side with tracks on it, I know that because I know the lion hunter that had made them two weeks earlier. They had made the walking much easier and I was going to use them to get back to where I could negotiate better through the snow.
It worked until both dogs signaled point 150 yards off the trail and on the north side. I headed that way but was soon breaking through snow above my knees. A couple of times I went deep enough that I had to roll over too get my legs out. I was exhausted. I walked in my tracks back to the trail and hoped the dogs would give up. After about five minutes I shot into the air figuring they would break and come for the retrieve, and they did. Yes, I could still hear chukar talk but was not about to go there.
I stayed on the track until I was sure I could negotiate some dirt surface and it wasn’t long before Grady brought me in on some birds.
There aren’t too many times when my boys get to point in the classic one leg up style but this was one of them and I told myself I had to get this bird. I flushed a small covey and hit the bird I was aiming at. Three hours on the hill and finally a chukar in the bag.
I was now getting to a level where the snow was more negotiable unless it was a northern slope. The southern slopes were mainly dirt. I wasn’t seeing tracks in the snow anymore and the birds weren’t talking down here. But at least I could move. Jake pulled me in on a long distance point for him. It was 237 yards and his hips must have been getting tired because this is what he looked like when I finally got to him.
It didn’t matter. The bird went down as well as if it had been the perfect point. He retrieved the bird to me and went 50 yards to another point.
Another solo chukar bit the dust. There didn’t seem to be the numbers down low as up high. We were now at the elevation of my truck and I had just planned on hitting that four wheeler track once more and walking it to the rig. Grady had different ideas. My Alpha said Grady was on point 273 yards away. The slope he was on was burnt but I couldn’t see him. In order to get to him and keep that slope in sight, I had to walk down a steep northern slope that hadn’t seen the sun for over a month. It looked like an accident. So I decided to follow the track around the head of that draw and hoped he would hold point. The path I took got me as far as 462 yards away before I hit the bare slope and headed in his direction. What a fantastic dog. He was still at point when I reached him.
As I walked out in front, a covey of quail busted. I was disappointed but picked a bird and dropped it. After his retrieve, Grady was ready to go after them again but I encouraged him to go up and back toward the truck. Most of the way was negotiable and I was beat. If we picked up another bird great, but I was ready to call it a day. Back at the rig I snapped a success picture.
Quite a jaunt for 3 chukars and a quail and I was ready to call it a season after this hunt. Even though there a were two days left to hunt. Than I realized my last bird was a quail. Guess who’s going out chukar hunting tomorrow.