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.
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).
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.