I had originally planned to head west for chukars when things started to wind down in Montana. Those "things" included upland birds in Montana, like Huns, sharptail and pheasants. Why leave birds to find birds, right? (see previous post on ruffed grouse) I also consider myself an occasional big game hunter, but mostly for the privilege of having deer or elk meat in the freezer. Horns, not so important to me. As you probably know. the dogs would prefer that I only hunted things with wings.
Well, I have never been great at delayed gratification. My alibis were: 1) there wasn't enough snow to really track elk in the mountains of central Montana and 2) there would be plenty of time to shoot a deer over Thanksgiving weekend. I also wanted to get to Idaho before snows would hinder my chukar hunting amidst the steep terrain. Out of four trips to hunt chukars the previous fall, I hunted in substantial snow in three of them. It wasn't a complete barrier to success, but the snow did add a bit of extra effort and danger to the hiking.
The trip for me was a solo one, which was fine. When it came to chukar hunting, I had learned that it really wasn't for everyone. The days were long, the miles were hard and the shooting was quite challenging. When I am alone, I don't mind exploring new ground, with the possibility of completely striking out. My Dad had the same philosophy for years, as he searched for the holy grail of ruffed grouse coverts, much to the benefit of others. Now I can return the favor and get my hunting partners into birds with more consistency.
Some things never change, as I had ice-covered highways to travel over and there was even some snow on the chukar hills when I arrived. But, by the end of the first day of hunting, most of the snow had melted or disappeared via sublimation. It was a fruitful trip overall, as I had found some birds in a new location and crossed off one possible chukar hotspot from the list, as the cover was sparse and we didn't put up any birds. I made sure the dogs got into plenty of birds before the trip wrapped up as we hunted known milk runs where the only disappointment was my shooting.
Overall, it didn't do much for whetting my chukar appetite. Now I just need this deer and elk hunting to wrap up.