It’s been a little dull but I’ve still been out in chukar country trying to figure it out. Needless to say I’m more confused than ever. I’m not finding what I expected. It’s not bad news, just different.
To start off with, the snow has stuck around a little longer than I expected. Once again, not a bad thing, because the southern slopes are bare and greening up just fine. But even on those slopes I finally saw my first buttercup flower which are usually popping out in mid February. The deer and elk are everywhere right now and don’t look like they are going to move anywhere soon. But there doesn’t seem to be as much winter kill as I usually find. Although Grady found some proof of a dead elk.
Conner and I went on a shed horn hunt yesterday and didn’t find any evidence of a winter kill big game animal. Usually we find a dead head or two to pack off the mountain. This coyote was even scavenging for something besides mice.
That’s good for the big game animals. More fawns and calves and carry over for next year’s season. But I have found more evidence of chukar mortality than normal. The dogs have pointed more carcasses and feathers than normal plus I just walked upon several myself. I think with the snow on the ground for so long the chukars were vulnerable to the avian predators.
Geese are already paired up like normal for this time of the year but that’s about all. Robins and Killdeer are just showing up. They usually come the first couple of weeks in February. Grady still likes pointing the killdeer. They help keep him entertained on these boring days of sitting at home.
The ice on our pond is still thick enough to walk on. Usually it is gone by now. And the birds we are most interested in seem to be a little behind also. The huns and chukars.
Usually the huns have paired up by this time of the year and the chukars are just starting to pair up. The huns are just beginning to pair and the chukars are still in fairly large groups. In both of these pictures Jake and Grady pointed hun coveys of aver ten birds.
Usually I’m in this country getting films of the dogs on hun pairs and very few covey’s. But like usual, the birds fool me. I took 5 minutes of videoing the dogs on this point expecting a covey of huns but this time there was a pair that flushed behind me and the camera.
Here is Jake pointing a covey of about two dozen chukars. They are still liking the snow line. Go figure.
Understand that this not a doom and gloom post but just the observations of a different February than usual for me. It’s the observations from a bored old fart that loves to be on the mountain with his dogs. The important breeding and nesting season hasn’t even begun. That’s all controlled by the amount of sunlight on the eyes of our upland birds. When that happens, the birds know what to do. There is plenty of good feed for them to go into the nesting season strong. From that point on we all know how important mother natures actions will be.
I mentioned earlier about seeing more chukar carcasses than normal. I’m also seeing plenty of healthy chukars that, combined with a good summer/spring, will provide a bumper crop of chicks. It’s cross your fingers time.
But I’m sure with the surge in fuel prices, many of the out of staters will be wondering more than ever how the bird numbers will be. I know I’ll be making fewer trips with longer stays this year. I won’t be able to travel as much for scouting but I hope I can provide enough information for you to decide whether to take the time to travel to our wonderful state.
Just the ramblings of an old chukar hunter.