After our big storm, which left nearly a foot of snow, I was ready to call it. We’ve had a great season, and finding birds has always been hard for me once the snow flies. I read at least one blog, though (especially Tucker’s Chukars), whose author does not appear to be impeded by sub-freezing precip. And after last Friday’s debacle, which left Angus and Peat rather lacerated and on the DL, this weekend kind of dragged on into a dreary, slate-skied Sunday.
I had to get out. Couldn’t take Angus because of his stitches, so tricked him into a walk with Leslie while I put Peat in the truck and got ready. Drove into Hells Canyon, where I haven’t been for quite a while, and watched a couple chukar sail over my windshield before deciding it might be thoughtful to get out. About 8 inches of snow covered the slope and its rocky exoskeleton. Hiking along a tight draw with brush, five minutes into the walk, Peat pointed. It was like that for the next two hours. I saw more birds than I think I’ve seen in the snow before, and got lots of good shots and a bunch of chukar.
Hunting alone with Peat, on a stormy pre-winter day in that terrain, with the kind of action we had, really can’t be beat. It was fair chase: the chukar could see me coming a mile away, as I could see them running up snowy slopes to rocky outcroppings and brush-filled draws. Usually they beat us, but I got more than I need or expected to get, much less see. And Peat performed beautifully, wearing his protective vest for the first time. A very good day.
Where do birds go when they’re cold? I wondered this yesterday as I walked alone across Friendship Bridge in Boise and looked down at the mallards preening themselves in the river. On the road home today after hunting I saw a quail puffed up like a volleyball, right on the road just off the margin of snow. I wanted to stop and cuddle it.
Enjoy the short video.