Just a little report on the past couple of hunts, which I did in snowshoes because I didn’t feel post-holing was the way to go. Yes, we have that much snow.
- With a good pair of snowshoes (I have an old set of steel Atlas snowshoes; they have even lighter ones nowadays), you can hunt in any depth of snow.
- Snowshoes don’t keep you from sinking in the snow, but you don’t sink as far as if you just had boots on.
- Snowshoes make your foot placement much easier, and you can pretty much go over anything without worrying too much about your route.
- Snowshoes probably mean you won’t see a lot of other people where you go (although that’s true for most of us regardless of where and when we search for chukar).
- Unless the snow is super soft and powdery, snowshoes make a lot of noise because they impact a much bigger footprint than just your foot; lots of noise means the birds can hear your ambulatory crunching from a long way away, which means they’ll most likely bust, even if your dog is great at holding birds, before you can get in range. I saw this happen every single time we got close to birds the past couple of days.
- If the snow is deep enough, and you’re in snowshoes, your dogs will have a tough time getting through the snow, which means they’ll often come up behind you to coast in your wake, often stepping on the rear of your snowshoes, causing you to take an involuntary snow sample with your face.
- Snowshoes are just another piece of gear to haul along, sometimes are hard to put on (especially with gloves), and — mainly because of the noise they make — not worth the trouble if your objective is to kill birds.
I managed one Hun each day, and hiked between 2 and 2-1/2 miles each time. I enjoyed being out — stunning scenery, very quiet (aside from the crunching of each step), and the dogs had a blast. I saw lots of interesting wildlife, including a porcupine lodged in a bitterbrush (a first), bald eagles, an elk calf lounging around with a herd of cattle, about a million rooster pheasants (also lounging with the cows), and a peregrine falcon dive-bomb a covey of Huns along the road (less successful than I was). Clearly, I’m in denial that the season looks about over unless we get some sunshine and burn-off up in here. But that’s okay. It’s been a great season. Maybe we’ll get some days in January, but who knows. Here are some more images…