2022 season finale

The chukar season came to an end for Jake, Grady and myself. Although there are five days left to be able to hunt, I chose the perfect day for an ending. It was a perfect blue bird day with a temperature of 46 degrees. Right now it is snowing outside and colder temperatures are returning to the chukar mountains.

As mentioned on an earlier post, the number of hunts this year were fewer due to my back and leg. This was my 44th hunt and I’ve averaged 61 hunts per year over the last 30 years. The worst thing about that was the amount of birds I saw out there this year and not being able to get to them as often as I would have liked. The first month of dry weather had me wondering about the birds nesting success, but as soon as the rain came birds started showing up everywhere.

And they seemed to have eluded hunters because I saw great numbers of chukars for breeding for next years season. They’ll still have to avoid the avian predators, but with the amount of fat reserves they have and the green sprouts everywhere they’ve got a lot going for them. I’m already excited for the 2023 chukar season.

I don’t know if others feel the same, but I’d put the number of birds out there as the best since 2015. That was probably the second best year of hunting I’ve had since keeping records. 2010 was the best.

Here’s how my hunt went yesterday.

I cheated a little and took the dogs as close to the top as I could. Usually we hunt our way up and hit those pockets of birds missed by taking the easy route. Plus, shooting uphill birds is easier than those flushing below. Anyhow, for me it seems that way. A snow drift stopped us from getting all the way to the top of the ridge, but as we were unloading a large covey of chukar flew from a snow covered hill about two hundred yards away. They swung around the hill so I knew where we were headed. Not a good deal. Although the dogs didn’t break through the snow, I did. I tried to pick places where the snow had melted around the rocks and brush but it still wiped me out in the first half hour.

But I finally got to where the birds had gone and the boys were hunting hard ahead of me. The dogs were on the birds but running way ahead of me. I could tell because of the chukar tracks in the snow. I’m guessing they ran close to a half of a mile across the ridge top. When the dogs finally went on point they were still a couple hundred yards ahead. When I got to them they were still locked up but the tracks were gone as well as the birds. I knew then that it was going to be a long day. And it was.

But it wasn’t boring. I had to have seen over two hundred birds. There were times when I sat on a rock catching some sun and watched birds flushing a quarter of a mile away. They weren’t flushing from us. It looked like they were just getting some exercise and enjoying the great day. But those weren’t the birds the dogs were looking for. There were plenty a lot closer and they found them. And they figured out how to get them to stay until I got into position. I was surprised they were holding after our first encounter.

The first point, one of 17, came on a sage and bitter brush flat. Grady was in front with Jake backing. I could see chukar tracks all over the place and was sure they were going to flush as I tried to cross a barbed wire fence. But they didn’t. As I moved in front of Grady the dogs kept relocating behind me. It went on for about fifty yards when all hell broke loose. Chukars started flushing everywhere. Two shots and two birds hit the ground. I walked towards the first bird and slowly opened my gun to remove the spent shells. I knew better and sure enough another half dozen birds flew off. As Grady retrieved the bird to me he flushed two more birds but they flew over the top of him and straight away giving me no safe shot. We looked for the second bird for at least 15 minutes and never came up with it. While looking for the chukar I heard a few more birds flushing but never laid eyes on them.

Most of the birds flew down and across to the next canyon, but some of them flew from above me and I wouldn’t have to lose as much elevation. I don’t know if I made the wrong move or not but to get to where the birds had gone I had to post hole through about 200 yards of foot deep snow. It liked to kill me. But it might have been the same had I gone after the other bunch. But it paid off with a great point and honor with Jake in the lead. Once again I got to the front and the dozen or so birds flushed. First shot dropped a bird but the second was definitely behind the bird. Jake got the retrieve. It couldn’t be going much better for me.

And that’s how the day continued. The dogs finding birds and me doing my best to get to them. Most of the time I did, but three times the birds flushed before I could get to the points. I couldn’t have asked for a better performance from Jake and Grady. The only set back was that we lost two birds on this trip. We’ve had a great year in that respect and only lost three birds the entire season until yesterday.

It took me six hours to cover three miles and that was in some of the least steep country I’ve hunted this year. Not good. But Grady made up for it by traversing 26 miles and Jake got in 14. Lots of fun in those miles. As I mentioned, the boys had 17 solid points and I can’t even imagine how many birds they flushed. They’re never in sight. Thank Garmin for the Alpha. 14 of the points I got to do the flushing but a few of them were in areas where I couldn’t get a shot or didn’t want to take a marginal shot do to the location of the dogs. My take was six chukars, one hun and two lost chukars. Spent shells, fifteen. Those six shots I missed were definitely shots I should have made.

A great day on the chukar mountain. Especially for the dogs. The amount of opportunities were enormous and the bird count ended up more than I ever expected.

It’s been a challenging season, mostly due to my health, but a learning season. It’s been a year that I appreciate the work the boys do for me more than I can ever remember. They definitely work for me as a team. Although Jake is aging, he only missed two trips with us.

Now, it’s time to heal. I’m hoping to get my back and leg operated on soon so that I have no excuses next year. My leg is going to have me in a boot and on crutches for three months and I still have no idea on my back, but I promised the dogs we will still be on the mountain somehow over that time. We will still be reporting what we see out there and hopefully be finding young chukars this summer.

I hope your season ends as well as mine and that you have had as much fun as I have chasing the best upland bird for pointing dogs. The chukar. Keep that mutt exercised as well as yourself and lets be ready for a great 2023 season.

Published by jakeandgrady

Hunting has been a favorite past time for me for 55 years but the last twenty five years I have been consumed by chukar hunting and more specifically chukar hunting with fantastic dogs. In this blog I hope to pass on any information I can about chukar hunting but more than anything I want to showcase what will probably be my last two chukar dogs, Jake and Grady. I am 70 years old, Jake is 8 and Grady is 3 and I'm hoping to stay on the chukar mountain until I am 80 when Grady will be fetching my final chukars.

5 thoughts on “2022 season finale

  1. As always, your email is the first to get opened and read. Glad you three had a pleasant end to the chukar season. Larry, I noticed you wear briar pants in the photo. I switched to pants with darts sown above and below the knees. This helps with articulation as you walk up and down hills. It really reduced the stress to my bad hip joint and helped my struggle to lumber after chukars and checking loggers on my day job. I wish you success with your Achilles tendon injury and back pain issues. I willing to admit chukar insanity to a psychiatrist if it any consolation.


  2. You went out with a bang as they say. No one can ever accuse you of being a quiter. Glad you were able to get as many days in as you did. lald Still have a couple of weeks of quail and Oakley’s feet are toughened up so we will be putting some extra miles on to find remote coveys.


  3. Ron, thank you and thanks for the information on pants. The psychiatrist thing is going to be an interesting look at my life. It’s going to be exciting getting ready for next year.


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