Despite a winter storm warning that chased us home a day early, the final week of our hunting season was great. Lots of chukar and quail contacts, plus very satisfying dog work from young and old. We wish it didn’t have to end.
Suzie and Lizzy’s field work easily made the grade for breeding dogs. We were hoping that Doc and Clip would show something while chukar hunting to help us choose between the two of them but they are still neck and neck in the field, so no decision yet on which one will stay here and which one will be sold as a started dog.
Idaho’s chukar numbers are currently recovering from extreme low counts in 2007 and 2008. Numbers were fair last season, but rain kept us out of almost all of the areas we usually hunt. Access to the high desert is normally limited for at least some of the season by impassably muddy roads, and 2010 was particularly wet. With few birds and muddy roads during their younger years, most of our breeding dogs were chukar neophytes at the beginning of this season. Although the dry conditions this winter made it tricky to figure out where the birds were, we could drive on any of the roads and we eventually located enough coveys to give the dogs the kind of exposure they need. So, not only were we bringing along the four young dogs on this trip, we also got to watch the rest learn to handle our western covey birds.
The incoming storm may put an end to this kind of access if there is significant precipitation. All it takes is one serious storm and the dirt turns into the gooiest mud on the planet. We have had some interesting experiences trying to drive around in it, including one night we thought we would end up leaving our old pop-up camper in the Owyhees for the winter, and a particularly exciting slide down a “good” road in the South Hills.
Driving around looking for new covers to hunt sometimes yields nice surprises. A favorite of ours is the Catholic church in Oreana, a tiny little town between the Owyhee front and the Snake River. Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church
A couple shots of Pepper pointing chukars:
About had to step on the bird to get it to fly. Single California quail really sit tight sometimes- very different from trying to pin down a running covey. Hard to believe it’s the same species when they act like this.
More photos and an update on our breeding plans to follow.