Saturday, November 22, 2014

Chukar Lessons 2.0

Having only had a half-dozen chukar hunts under my belt, I am still learning each time I leave Montana for chukar country.  Some of that learning is painful, some of it is just relearning things I should know from 30 years of wingshooting.

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.

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