Lucky Peak – stress relief
A few hunting buddies were going to Brownlee to hunt chukar for the weekend and staying at the Idaho Fish and Game cabin…I was supposed to go but I stayed back to work on my defense presentation. Since I had to miss this awesome weekend of hunting with these guys I decided I needed to go kill something to make myself feel better. So, I snuck out for a little less than 2 hours on Friday. Z was all over the birds! She was finding covey after covey…but finding them anywhere from 200 yards to what seemed like 5 miles away from me! She is really ranging to far, but she is having a great time and that’s what this year is about, Z having fun. The good thing I’m starting to notice with Z is she is tracking birds more than she used to, nose to the ground and working the wind. Now if I do my job with training this next spring and summer I think I’m going to have a great hunting partner. I must have seen 50-75 chukar and a few huns. I did come home with 3 chukar, not quite the hunt my buddies are probably having, but that is ok there are many more hunts to come.
Oh by the way, it is official. I’m defending Tuesday November 25th, 2003!
Only 2 weeks left! Depression is setting in with my hunting buddies and I. What will I do with all this spare time! Urgh! I guess I’ll have to settle with snow shoeing, cross country skiing, soaking in hot springs, camping, canoeing, and fishing…it’ll be rough but I think I’ll manage. I went out for a couple hours and trudged through the 12+ inches of snow…and I do mean trudged! I think I was able to travel half the distance I usually do but by the end of the hunt I felt like I had gone twice as far as usual. It was cold and windy and the walking was hard. About halfway to my destination I stopped for a moment and caught myself thinking I should just give up and go home. But, honestly, right after I had that thought I looked around at the countryside covered in a white blanket that contrasted black on white with the cliff faces dropping to the reservoir…I caught the laughter of chukar on the other side of the reservoir (yes they were laughing at me)…I watched Z bounding through the snow, having a great time and not cold, which is amazing since she has just a little more hair than I have on the top of my head…I felt the icicles forming on my mustache and beard…watched a bald eagle soar over the water…so with a big smile and a light heart I turned and headed further back into this winter landscape…I’ll walk out after it gets dark. Oh, by the way I saw 20-30 chukar too, brought one home, and cooked it for dinner…Chukar Alfredo. YUMMY.
With great anxiety I turned to my new boss and said, “Jeff, do you here that?” The anxiety is what I am sure anyone hearing voices feels the first few times chatter rattles around in your brain. Jeff looks at me and shakes his head, and reluctantly asks what I’m hearing. “The laughter Jeff the laughter! They are all laughing at me Jeff! You can’t hear it? It is so loud it hurts…thousands of chukar and huns calling out and laughing at me because I am at work!” I turn to stare out the 5th floor window at the rolling foothills, tears welling in my eyes. I can hear them taunting me, like kids outside a friend’s window who was just grounded and can’t come out to play! Jeff simply stares at me, but I think he knows he has already lost me for the day. He started to say something about forgetting my medicine but stopped and said, “Will you be in tomorrow?” YAHOOOOOOO! Freedom! Without trying to act too much like a man racing to the TV remote before the wife and kids can get it, I pack my stuff and I’m out the door at 3pm. As I get in my truck I realize I forgot to answer Jeff’s question about tomorrow…it is all right though, he will get used to me eventually. With snow a couple days ago and having the sun peak out yesterday I hoped some of the south facing slopes would be open. If the conditions are right those open south-facing slopes hold so many birds feeding on the exposed grass and any other greenery they can find. I was right. A twenty-minute walk up the ravine from the Barclay boat ramp and I was approaching the slopes I wanted. Z had disappeared down the ravine a few minutes ago so I was surprised when I crested the ridge and there she was 20 feet in front of me locked on point…I like to think she was waiting there for me, as a good pointer should. Nonetheless, she was on point and just as I stopped 10-15 chukar blew out from all around us. It was awesome. I bagged one bird and Z turned back from the chase as soon as she heard “dead bird”. The covey split in two, one the direction I came and one down the ravine further back. Being I probably only had 30 minutes of good light left I chased the covey back towards the truck. I had a hunch what batch of cover they may run for. We moved back over the ridge and now Z is staying closer, I wave her to my right into the cover I thought the birds might be in and Z spins! Points! Flush!! Bang!! “dead bird”. I love this stuff. Home by 5:30 with 2 birds and a refreshing little walk; have I ever told any of you that I love Idaho?
Return to the same area as yesterday with Justin and Pasco. The lesson of the day is TRUST THE DOG! Pasco started down a hillside and about halfway started to get birdie, he worked the area a little and then focused on sniffing around a large bush. He had worked around it and I had kicked it too, I (being the smart human) had decided he was on old scent, so I lowered my gun and started to work away from him…but he wouldn’t give up on the shrub…just as I turned back towards him a chukar blasted out of the hillside a foot above his head! I had no shot because I put another shrub between Pasco and I…I turned to Justin and yelled, “Lesson 323, TRUST THE DOG TRUST THE DOG!”
I’m in love!! Completely head-over-heels! It was not love at first sight, don’t get me wrong, she is beautiful, sleek, and light-weight but I knew I had to spend some time in the hills with her first. To know if it was real love I needed to feel her in my hands, see how well I handled her, and see if she snuggled nicely onto my shoulder…yes, I am talking about a shotgun…an Ithica over-under 12 gauge, 26?-inch barrel, the first shot a modified choke, and then a full for the second. A buddy let me borrow her today and I used her well…8 chukar (limit!) and 1 hun! THANKS JIM! I was hunting in the heavy snow and had a hard time getting a good shot at first because of wearing a heavy coat, the butt of the gun kept catching…but I adjusted and by the end of the day I had 8 chukar (a limit) and Z had caught one hun! I had six chukar in my vest and as I crested a ridge yet another group of chukar got up…bang! Swing 90 degrees and bang! A DOUBLE! It was a very nice end to 3 hours of awesome yet difficult (physically) hunting in deep snow. I was stuck in waist deep snow more than once. Z did awesome too! I must have gotten 5-8 good points from her. She would still disappear to hunt on her own, who knows where, but she stuck around for the most part and we had a great time.