25 years ago, I got my first shorthair, Tucker. He was an amazing dog and taught me so much about chukar hunting. He came before the GPS collar days and I hunted him with a beeper collar that I could push a button to locate him. Even at that, Tucker did not like being separated from me for long. He would check in, sometimes from a distance, but he needed to make eye contact with me. Once he would know I noticed him, he would resume what he was doing.
Probably the most amazing thing Tucker would do was back off a point. If I didn’t get to him within a reasonable time, he would back off a point and come back and find me. Once we made eye contact he would go back and point the covey for a second time. And almost every time the birds would still be there. I had confirmation of his ability to do so by several of the people who hunted with me and watched him do it. He was an amazing dog.
Today, I watched Jake and Grady perform a couple of different things that I haven’t seen from them before. First was Jake.
As Jake has aged, he has become more vocal. If chukars are running up hill from him or they start flushing before he can point, he gets this excited yip. It isn’t a bark but it’s more of a yip to let me know they are not cooperating. If they hold he does the same thing he has done thousands of times, hold the birds tight. But today he added to his vocalizing. I had seen a covey of birds flush above me and shortly afterwards Jake showed up where they had flushed. Normally I would head up to him when he pointed, but this time I was sore and tired and I knew the birds were gone. So when I started walking away from him he started talking to me. It was kind of a whiney “hey can’t you see me”? I waved my hand for him to come, but when I resumed walking away from him he started in again. Three times he did this before giving up and coming down to me. I thought it was pretty cool.
A little later I watched Grady on the sidehill not too far from me kind of go on point. He almost looked like he was in trouble with his tail down. He slowly backed up, dropped lower in the draw and then went up about thirty yards above where he started and locked up. For some reason he didn’t like where he first noticed the birds and relocated and held the birds for me to get into position. It wasn’t just a coincident, he obviously knew how to get into position to hold the birds. Once again, how cool is that?
I believe those things happen due to the hundreds of trips on the chukar mountains as a team. It’s amazing how our four legged friends learn to communicate and work with us. I’m sure that many of you have had similar experiences. Those things aren’t trained, they are just learned from hours of walking the mountains.
So that’s how this great days with my boys went. But it wasn’t without some head scratching and hard hiking. I started the day feeling like I could get above the fog.
Up we went and I chased down several points just to get a quick glimpse of the flushing birds. The times I might have been able to squeeze off a shot, I was shooting with a hill that I couldn’t see in the back drop and I only knew where the pointing dog was. I could also hear birds flushing now and then but never saw the birds. It was time to get below the fog. After a long and careful descent, we were there.
It wasn’t long before we were finding birds.
I got lucky and shot a double with each dog retrieving a bird back to me.
As I took the birds from the boys and moved around to the trail I had been following, I noticed some tracks that told me we weren’t alone on the hill. There had been a cougar hunting some time during the night before.
It’s always fun to see things like that and wonder if it had any success. We had a few more points as we moved down the mountain to keep me and the dogs entertained. We were even successful once in a while.
I finally hit the trail that led us back to the rig and even though I could hear the chukars calling for me to come back up into the fog, I was very happy with the great day we already had.