Some of you might remember this, but for those that don’t, I gave a couple of talks on chukar hunting at Boise State University a few years back. The class was doing research on chukars and I mean they broke every little detail down on the birds. From what they ate to leg mass of different birds in different areas. You ask and they have the information.
Today the professor of that class stopped by and gave me some more information on what the class has been finding out and how they have been using the chukars I supplied. Once again, Jen blew my mind with her knowledge and so many questions answered since our last visit. I’m sure that most of us hunters don’t really care about the why’s some birds have smooth grit pebbles in their gizzard while others have rough pebbles. I’ll just say it helps to determine the health of the birds and what they are eating. Also, what could the width of their beak possibly tell? They measure it and come up with some interesting possibilities. I could go on forever talking about the intestines, crops, droppings, muscle mass and much more but in the end all most of us care about is how is that going to help us when it comes to chukar hunting?
Short answer is that it’s not going to help us in our hunting much, but the information they are compiling together is going to make it easier for the game departments to forecast seasons and explaining the ups and downs of chukar numbers from year to year. It also explains why, even though some people don’t agree with this, there isn’t much our game departments can do to enhance chukar hunting opportunities. In the end, chukars are self regulating and as we have discussed many times, Mother Nature is the determining factor.
I learned a lot today. Some things I already figured out but many more, what a revelation. More than anything else, is the food they eat. How birds that are chowing down on certain feed available are much healthier than those where those foods are not available. How egg production is better with certain feed available. Sad thing is that because of the food they seek and the country they live in only Mother Nature can provide the proper stuff. They don’t do well with farm land products, which is fine with me.
Shining a light on our visit was her trip down the Salmon and Snake river. Jen has been around for a while and knows what good numbers are and she said the numbers were very good with birds of all sizes covering the canyon walls. She’s the second great report I have had from those area’s.
I’ve also visited with a rancher who covers a lot of the country a lot of us have hunted in the past and he reported a lot of birds while riding the range. I’m going to give it one more step above the words a one Fish and Game worker. He said he was “cautiously optimistic” and I’m leaving out the cautiously.
I know many locals would just as soon I didn’t paint a rosy picture on chukar hunting. They’d like to keep it all to themselves. I can’t blame them but we also know how hard chukar hunting is and how much country they inhabit. I’ve met many out of state hunters that were thrilled to have gone home with 3 or 4 birds and can’t wait to come back next season. I have no problem at giving a hunter a direction to go and explaining to him, “let your dog go and put the boot miles on following him and you’ll surely find some good chukar action.” You may not always be successful, but you’ll learn what to do better the next time you try after chukars. Or you may decide it’s not your thing. Chukar hunting with my dogs has been the best outdoor adventure I have been able to experience and I’d like to think of myself as a self appointed ambassador for the sport. I’d like to see others have the same love for it that I have had.
My back is already feeling better, just thinking about walking up on the dogs pointing a covey of chukar with a shotgun in hand. I’ll have my first two shells loaded with past dogs ashes in hopes that they will bring a bird down. Get ready for what looks like it could be a very fun season.