Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fog and Cheatgrass

Today was spent climbing hills through fog banks and sunshine chasing chukars. It was pretty crazy, at the bottom of the mountain there was maybe 100 yards of visibility. Everything was coated in whores frost. It was quite beautiful. Hazels eyebrows and beard were covered in white, it looked pretty cool. It wasn't until I was near the top that I broke through to a beautiful sunny day. It was in the 20 degree range down low in the fog and mid 40s on top in the sun. The exact opposite of what we experienced a couple of weeks ago. Hazel did great. Nice range, a lot of great casts. We moved a few birds and Hazel had a nice point on a small covey. Unfortunately I can't hit sh!t lately. (lately?) But the opportunity was there and the dog did good so I was happy with that part of it all. We are supposed to get hit this week with a snowstorm and the tempature is supposed to plummet to the teens. I was hoping to get another hunt in over the holiday break. We will have to see.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve Present for Me!

I finished up my work assignments for the year so I was able to take off Christmas Eve and enjoy an awesome morning on the mountain chukar hunting. Nothing like losing your dog in the fog only 500 yards after leaving the truck and then finding her a few minutes later holding point and chukars for the gun. It was so cool. Look close on the skyline of the photo (you may need to click on the picture for a larger view) and you can see her on point. That's how I found her. Merry Christmas for me!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year all!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cold Day on the Mountain

Went Chukar hunting with my brother today. The initial climb up the mountain was fine but once we were on top it was bitter cold. We were prepared for the most part and were able to cover up so we were fine. We kept a close eye on the dogs and didn't stay on top very long. If we stopped for even a moment the dogs all started shivering and shaking. The temperature was hovering in the mid 20s but there was a wind chill factor that made it very uncomfortable. It even froze up the tube of my water bladder.

Even with all the hiking we did it was a slow hunting day. Hazel busted a covey at the very top of the first ridge we climbed. We didn't see it but by Hazel's reaction we were sure of what had just happened. Hazel yips at birds after they fly. I hear the Germans breed for it. Its a crazy bark that sounds more like she's been lit on fire. I was kind of perturbed by her busting the covey but Hazel works hard and sometimes she pushes birds a little too hard. She is such a good bird finder and is getting better all the time at holding her birds but not that time. It was really frustrating last year but she has improved so much I will take some bad with all the good she does. The only other birds we saw was one single Shawn's dog Sage pointed on top and another single Hazel pointed almost at the bottom on the way back to the truck.

Hazel's was a beauty of a point all stiff with one of her back legs raised. She held that bird for a long time. Unfortunately for Hazel her master is a dumb-ass and walked into the point from the side, which is the proper thing to do, but I did it way too far out in front of her. There was a juniper tree and I thought I better get around it on the far side so It wouldn't be in my way. I was thinking the birds would fly downhill and away from us. Problem was the bird was on the opposite side of the tree closer to Hazel than I thought and it flew uphill. 2 strikes. I got all spun around and missed twice and threw a last desperation shot to no avail. 3 strikes your out. The bird was about 10 yards in front of her and I was about 20 yards out. I made a big fuss over her for her great point and I don't think she's going to hold it against me. I still should of hit it. Lessons: pay more attention to your dogs body language, (looking back Hazel gave me a look like "where you going?" when I started going too far in front of her. Take your time, move, FOCUS, swing, shoot. It may be the only chance you get all day. Still fun even with the bad shooting and the bitter cold.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chukar Gun

I have an old New Haven 600 20 gauge single rail pump that I received for my 13th birthday. I haven't been using it the last several years because it had developed a terrible double feeding issue. I had almost gave up on it. This last summer I had my friend Jeff, who is an amateur gunsmith, look at it and he was able to fix what others could not, including Mossberg's own gunsmith shop (twice). Now it runs like a top, is very smooth and is my go-to chukar gun. With the plug pulled and one in the chamber I have 6 shots available, which is great for those late risers in the coveys. I'm admittedly a horrible chukar shot and I will take any advantage I can get with these birds. Its just a utilitarian, inexpensive pump but it is well made in the U.S.A. I can take it up the mountains among the rim rock and not worry about dinging it up. I have always been pretty meticulous with my guns and I take really good care of them ever since I was young. This gun is well used and has a lot of wear but it is still in rather good shape. The wood is pretty rough and scratched and the bluing is wearing out in places. But this old gun has a lot of memories hidden within all that wear. I had to add an extra thick butt pad to extend the LOP so it fits me half decent. It's not pretty but it does the trick. I love it. Hopefully my kids will also get good use out of it.
Before I started using this gun again, typical days of shooting chukars with my doubles was empty both barrels at a bird on the initial covey rise just to watch them all fly away while a single or two come up a few seconds later and me standing there with an empty gun fumbling to reload. Not anymore. I still have been missing my first couple of shots but now I can quickly back them up. Hopefully the success will continue.