What a great scouting trip I had this morning. I got up early and headed to an area I had scouted about a month ago with no luck. I saw plenty of tracks on that last trip but no birds. This time the chukars obliged me.
I had an ablation on some nerves in my back yesterday and the doctor recommended I take it easy today so I drove as far up the hill as I could get. I wasn’t expecting to see many chukars this far from any water source that I know of but the hike along the top was not to challenging. This was my hike to the top of the last ridge and back.
This is what it looks like if you care to get a lot of work out of your day and work your dogs to death retrieving downed birds. Ten years ago I loved hunting that hillside. I called it the hunt to hell #2. It was the pits because you start at the top and end up finishing the day coming back up the steep hill and usually with a limit of birds. Somehow we thought that was satisfying. I could hear the chukar calls off the canyon walls challenging me to try them later.
I wish I could have focused the camera better. In that short walk we pointed and flushed 5 different covey’s of chukar. I’m guessing every covey had at least fifteen first hatch chicks along with the parents. One covey had over 30. That was the only covey the boys pointed. They walked right into the middle of them before they hit the scent. When I walked in on them we had birds all around us and all I got on camera was flashes of birds as I swung around. As we drove off the hill, another very large covey flew across and ran up through the rocks. I was slow on the camera but still found some running. They were also first hatch birds.
Excuse the heavy breathing noise. My excuse is that I can’t see the view finder so I get so close I’m breathing down the speaker. But I sometimes don’t mute it so that you can hear some of the fun sounds. Like this adult, which had to be one of many with a covey as large as ran up through the rocks. Probably 40 to 50 birds. I think she was keeping the covey in check.
Further down the road the quail started showing up. This was the only covey that stayed on the road for a video. There were 9 chicks. I had to mute this one because my radio was blasting.
This last video is of three bunches of quail that flew into this brush. They were about the same size and with all my stumbling around in the brush I could see them scrambling but couldn’t seem to locate them with the view finder. The dogs were in the truck and would have gone nuts trying to get them to fly. That’s one of the reasons I don’t hunt quail much. If you can bust them out of this thick stuff and break them up they hold even better than chukars at times but in my opinion they usually fly from one thicket to the next. My boys don’t have the patience to hold point on these birds hopping from branch to branch. Probably poor training on my part.
So, here is my latest thought’s on the chukar hatch. I believe that the rains from the Spring weren’t detrimental to them as I feared. All the chicks I saw today had to be first hatch birds. This area got as much rain if not more than the rest of southwest Idaho. The heavy dry cover and dust and pollen has made finding these birds extremely difficult. Four of the five covey’s we found on our hike were busted and not scented. The birds held tight until the dogs were almost on top of them. If these birds did so well I’m sure there are dozens of other covey’s in that area ready to entertain us. Later in September after we get some good moisture to knock the cheat down and the dust and pollen off, the mutts are going to be able to find those birds much easier.
I just don’t believe that I stumbled onto the only place in the state that had chukars survive the hatch so well. The huns are definitely up as well as the quail and now I’m looking at thumbs up for chukars also.