Forecasts for lots of birds this season are, in my experience so far, true. Covey sizes have also been relatively (or extremely) large, and locations have been all over the place: high, low, sage, open, rocks. Last weekend we hunted what was for us a new area, one I’d bet doesn’t get much pressure as it’s rather a pain in the ass to get to. I eclipsed my single day elevation gain and saw chukar everywhere. One area contained, conservatively, more than 150 birds.
We found it tough, though, to get close to any of them. For the most part, all bigger coveys busted quite wildly. Boots crunching bone-dry arrowleaf telegraphed our presence on the open slopes, and satellite chukar moving along the ground made it tough for the dogs to point anything. Once the huge groups busted, Angus and Peat made some good points, some of which I got to, but – after shooting pretty well the first couple of weeks – I shot crapulously. Lucky chukar.
The wild-busting chukar got me thinking about my dogs, worrying actually. Why weren’t they more cautious? Were the birds moving more than normal? Were the dry conditions making it harder for them to pinpoint scent? Were the myriad partridges exciting the dogs too much for them to be more cautious? Was it just an example of early-season pointing rustiness? I admit to feeling exasperated as I watched dogs busting coveys from 100 or 200 yards away, but then they’d “redeem” themselves a few minutes later with a solid, classic point. Ah, the mysteries of chukar hunting; I think if I ever completely understand everything that goes on whenever we go out there I’ll be bored and quit.