Chukar in the house
Chukar in the house

Opening weekend came and went, and we’re still vibrating from it. We camped in Oxbow the night before opening day, greeted by a big sow bear as soon as we beached the boat. We waited a while, not sure if we should look for another cove, and then two cinnamon cubs appeared, and the train left the station. So we tied up, and enjoyed the stars, all night long, courtesy of Angus’s nearly constant woofing at things going bump in the night. We also learned that Oxbow (and probably most reservoirs) reduce the water level at night, because we awoke about 1:30 a.m. to our boat listing about 45-degrees. When it finally got light, Leslie and I eagerly prepared coffee fixings, only to realize we forgot a crucial part of the stove. As hardcore addicts, we fiddled about to create some heinous caffeinated beverage to dispel the certain migraine-like headaches that would have set in without our morning fix. Note to self. Remember stuff like that next time.

It's the water, and a lot more.
It’s the water, and a lot more.

But what about the hunting? Opening day was tough, but we saw three coveys. The first numbered at least 40 birds. I knocked one down and Angus got it. We saw two more large coveys (20+ birds) in the next two hours, but they busted early, probably because we were pursuing them across huge scree fields and must have appeared like Brahmas in the China shop. It was awesome, though, to explore new, heavily birded terrain and see lots of birds. Especially after last year. I think I hunted four times before bagging a chukar last year.

The next day we took the boat onto Brownlee and found a nice cove with decent access to a dirt road. Angus pointed just above the water level after being out only a few minutes. We followed the birds across a few little finger ridges near the water (cow trails on precipitous slopes), and Angus pointed again. I managed a double, but was only able to recover one bird, which is always incredibly aggravating. (Later, we returned to the area and found what I believe was that bird, which must have only been lightly wounded because it blasted up a draw right where I thought it should be; y’all know that when a chukar busts uphill the chances of finding it are slim to none and slim left town).

Good morning, opening day.
Good morning, opening day.

We hiked a lot and saw amazing new terrain. Since it was really warm it made sense that the first birds we saw were so close to the water, especially since there’s no greenup yet: no food higher up, and scarce water. But we came to a watering trough near a spring, and – sure enough – there was a large covey just next to it, and I managed one of this year’s small birds, which was so small that at first I thought it was a Hungarian partridge when Angus retrieved it.

We heard lots of calling, saw healthy-sized coveys, and are excited to head back out next weekend. I’m grateful to have a few days of rest (if you can call teaching 7th through 12th graders English “rest”) before next time.

4 Replies to “Finally!”

  1. Always jealous of your earlier opener, sounds like the birds are fairing a bit better this year up your way? The Nevada forecast bumped a 48% increase this year, which brings us just below average. Plenty of little birds running around all summer, which hasn’t happened much the past two summers. We had rain at all the right times in all the right places and that saved the season I’m sure.

    I’ll be up your way steelheading on the Clearwater and staying near Orofino the last week of October. If you’re able to hook up and shoot some birds I’d love to explore with ya.

    1. It sounds like your 48% bump will beat our increase, Larry. This weekend will be cooler and more humid, so I’m hoping Angus will find more of the birds who’ve advertised their increased presence. I wish I could hit the steelie run on the Clearwater and look for birds up there; if you’re coming through my area, let me know and we’ll take the boat to some of the new hotspots. You’re welcome to crash here, too.

Chirp away

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