Winter driving. I knew I had to get over three mountain passes on my trip west. I knew they were ice-covered. And two of the three were. This really wasn't learning any lessons, but strictly a reminder that we are now in winter travel mode. Mix bad roads with darkness and deer and elk on the road and I was glad to have arrived at my motel.
Dog paws. No matter how much I hunt in Montana from September 1 until chukar time, there is no way to get the dogs' paws conditioned. In fact, I am writing this blog entry in a motel room, when I should be hunting. Yesterday's 8A.M. to 3P.M. shift on rock and ice, took its toll. I could have rotated one dog midday, but I knew I would be gone from the truck too long. Now Abby needs to be carried outside to do her business and Tess isn't much better. I am hoping a day of rest and the addition of dog boots, which I have never had success with, will get us through Sunday.
My feet. Even though I was hunting south-facing slopes, I still had a good deal of snow and ice to deal with. Shame on me for not trying a newer pair of books on snow before strapping them on hundreds of miles from home. It seems like that every so often, I get a pair of boots where the soles are super-slick on snow, despite appearing to have an aggressive sole. These were one of those #$%&*!@ pairs. My frustration was nearly comical at one point. If the landscape had any slope to it, and it did, it was as if I was standing on ball bearings. In 7 hours, I probably fell ten times. I had another pair of boots in the Toyota, but I was too stubborn to give up my precious elevation that I had gained. Also had packed some ice-cleats, but they were also in the car.
Shells. I had been lulled into my normal Montana routine of grabbing 12-15 shells in the morning and restocking at noon. That is plenty for a three-bird pheasant limit. Not chukars, for Pete's sake. I finished my hike with one shell in the hole. Dumb. Running out of shells should be a good thing. See the following paragraph.
Shooting. I shot horribly. Wasted shells on long shots, when the birds were getting up just beyond my 28 gauge comfort. I also admit to flock shooting more than once. Why? I have hunted Huns enough to usually be the know-it-all to tell others that their frustrations probably stem from flock shooting. For some reason on this hunt, I had a heck of a time picking out one chukar.
Enough of the whining. I hunted behind my setters in beautiful country, saw plenty of chukars and one covey of Huns. Saw elk, mule deer and bighorns. It wasn't a perfect day, but it was still pretty darn good.