Saturday, October 24, 2020

2020 Hits and Misses

 September 1- October 10

How will we remember the 2020-2021 hunting season?

One expects the first two weeks of the Montana season to be hot and dry. Often smoky. But, this fall, conditions of Hades lingered all the way to pheasant opener. The days trekking up high for blues were productive, but by noon, water bottles were empty and the dogs were looking for shade. Salt was rubbed in the wound even more when an October fire struck said blue grouse coverts. Time will tell if that high-elevation habitat is altered forever.

Based on my days afield, sharptail seemed to be nearly recovered from the drought of 2017, while Huns aren't quite there yet. On second thought, sharptail were more abundant than any season since 2007.  (I would still like to see a 3 birds/day limit and 9 in possession) I never did hunt sage grouse this September, with most of my excuses revolving around snakes, warm temperatures and more snakes.

The smoky, dry September conditions hindered dog work to some extent.

October 10 - October 23

Pheasant opener was played according to Hoyle.  The birds had a good hatch and we had our bag limits early each day. Dog work was good, allowing us to pick out mature birds and avoid any heckling over juveniles that were lacking color. Only the pheasant opener can become amateur hour when other hunters drive past your vehicle and deliberately cut you off on a coulee. Cooler heads prevailed when the final showdown occurred, but man.......

Other than that, the opening weekend was full of good laughs, good food and good weather. The dogs were machines, doing what they were bred to do.  And, Brian ended his shooting slump too, which had been on the books for a decade. Give or take. 

Can you come home Sunday after hunting pheasants?  I have had contact with some Covid-positive people.....And just like that my trip to the grouse shack in MN was cancelled with one simple text from my wife.  Dad claims the birds were already on the downhill slide, but I think he was just trying to talk me off the ledge.  Next year. 

Now, as of October 23rd, we have a foot of snow on the ground in the middle of Montana, two feet in the mountains.  It could be a year to hunt more chukars in Idaho and Nevada or look for elk in the hills. Time to put away the flatlander boots and dig out the stiff-soled ones. 2020 isn't going away easy, so why should I?

Pheasant opener is always a social event, as much as a hunting trip. Covid didn't change that.