As we turn off of the highway and onto the dusty dirt road heading towards the chukar hills, our bird dog stands up in the back seat of the pickup and sticks his nose out of the crack in the window, snorts, and wags his stubby tail in excitement. The last time we turned up this road we were heading out for a bitter cold January hunt. Dogs have a keen sense of memory. Does he remember the turn, the smell, or something else?
The chukar hills are always turning with the seasons. Bright red Indian paintbrush, brilliant yellow arrowleaf balsamroot, deep pink sweet pea, purple Rocky Mountain penstemon, multi-colored wild lupine, verdigris sagebrush, and spring green grasses are now flourishing after a long winter. The reward from the snow melt is habitat and food for wildlife and a new batch of chukar that soon will be hatching in these hills.
We all wandered in different directions across the hillside covered in wildflowers blanketing the ground in a blaze of yellow and red. It was a short walk to admire the views and to collect some arrowleaf balsamroot seeds for our own wildflower garden. We eventually met up and sat down on some flat rocks in the warmth of the setting sun to quietly take a moment to reflect on the last time we hunted on these chukar hills.