One of the truth’s we learned in chukar hunting 101 is that there is usually no easy way to hunt chukars. You may find some easy birds once in a while but if you average 10% on easy birds you are pretty lucky. But supposedly there are tricks you can adapt to that might increase that average some. I tried one of those today.
On the range that I hunted today I decided to have Barb drive me to the top and I’d hunt my way down where she could pick me up later. In the past I have always hunted from the bottom, gone up as high as I can until either I have enough birds or am too whipped and than return to the truck via a different route. It is an area that I have done quite well at times. Sadly, when I hunt from the bottom I find the chukars up high but the dogs and I have lot’s of fun getting to them.
Barbed took our summit picture and off the dogs and I went.
We were heading down a northern facing slope and felt it would be much cooler as the sun came up. If it was, I couldn’t tell. I was sweating 15 minutes later and was going down hill. Five minutes into the hunt I was in some type of rye grass or something like that that was as tall as me. I even got poked in the eye a few times. Evidently there was so much early grass this year the cows never visited this ridge. There were no trails and I was constantly tripping over obstacles hidden by the tall grass. I might have heard a covey flush once but with the wind blowing the tall grass I wasn’t sure. It almost reminded me of the days of hunting pheasants in a corn field. I never liked that much either.
After what seemed like forever and losing about 500 feet we finally found some negotiable terrain. The cover was only 18 inches or so high. I was now thankful for cows and the trails they make. It wasn’t long and the boys had a point. I moved to the right of their points and started down below them when a large covey of birds flew from the hill just above where I had walked. I picked out two birds flying close together and hoped for a double with one shot. Another bird five feet behind them fell to the ground. As I ready the second barrel my feet went out from under me and I took a seat to watch the remaining 2 dozen birds sail around the slope. Figure it must have been the wind that strayed my shot. Grady didn’t care. It was nice to get a bird in the mouth.
I’m not sure going down steep chukar hills is that much easier than coming up. My left leg was getting very sore being the load bearing leg and I finally had to traverse the hill in the opposite direction. It eased the pain some but the problem now was that I was getting further from where Barb was to pick me up. New decision. Hurt more or walk more. The dogs made the decision easy with a point. Once again they brought me in on a point. Doing my normal move to the right routine, I was once again surprised by the flush above me. I spun on the large covey and never got the footing to even shoot. While Grady ran off to watch the covey a straggler got up and Jake was happy he stayed close for the retrieve.
I finally decided to make the turn towards the ridge we were supposed to head down. We had headed off track far enough that I was now going to have to climb around 1000 feet just to get on the right ridge. I was alright with that though, I knew there were birds that way. As I started my climb I found a bunch of bones with a five point elk attached to them. Knowing how Conner likes horns I decided to somehow attach them to my pack. I used a dog leash to tie them down as tight as possible and then headed up the slope. I discovered a new work out routine. Pulling horns through sage and tall grass really taxes the legs. Especially going up hill. With a game pack it might have been somewhat easier but not with a bird vest.
To add to the challenge lets get to the dogs on point. No they are not at the same elevation. Down hill from me the boys have some birds pinned. Man, can those horns stop you quick when they stab into the ground. And each time they hit the ground the ties loosen some. Now they have a little bit of sway as you walk and even more of a sway as you try to make the shot. This is going to be shooting excuse number 972. The elk horns made me follow through too much.
Yes, I did get a few more shots as I headed for the pick up spot. Yes, I did see lots of chukars. Yes, I had some disappointed dogs. Yes, I was tired and hot. But I learned a lot. I learned another way to miss chukars. I found a way of making hikes in chukar country even harder. I learned that sometimes taking the easier route makes it harder.
But being a chukar hunter with a small brain, I’d probably do it the same again.
Picture of me and the horns at the pick up spot.
By the time I had hit the truck they weren’t very tight to the pack.
Here’s the horns.
Seems to be lot’s of birds out there. Go get em.