It’s rare in life to be embraced warmly by the unexpected, or at least in my life it’s been rare. Now that we’re “old people,” I think I’m more attuned to the expectation that things shouldn’t change very dramatically, but this seems dramatic somehow. It’s not so much that I’m thrilled my wife is hunting, but more that she’s not stopping at wonder. Or maybe it’s that she’s reconnecting with the curiosity that tends to get drubbed out of us the older we get, starting back in middle school. So to me in a sense it’s uncanny what she’s doing. I like uncanny.
Our first three weekends of chukar season have been excellent in many ways. We’ve hunted lots of new ground, found more birds than expected, had great weather, enjoyed textbook dog work (with a couple excusable exceptions), bagged a lot of birds, and welcomed a new hunter into our family. I guess the reason I haven’t written much yet about this season is that I’ve just been enjoying it.
Ruminating on Leslie taking up the gun (and losing the video) has been the biggest change for me this season. It’s wholly positive, and the thought process goes something like this: I can’t believe my wife, at 55 years of age, who worries about cows and feral cats being cold in the winter, has taken up the gun, and has killed some birds, and is more motivated each time we head out.
Our last two hunts together remind me of Khalil Gibran’s oft-quoted wish (usually at weddings), “Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.” It’s interesting to think about this, since yesterday was the 15th anniversary of the date I proposed to her, and it was on a mountain-top in Idaho, not far from where we hunted. Anyway, we had split up early in the hunt, she taking Angus and Peat accompanying me. She’s got a decade of following me with a camera rather than following a dog with a gun, so she’s learning the difference. After the hunts, she fills me in on the action she had, describing her spaces and how the dancing winds from the heavens shaped her experience. The places we’ve hunted have been blessed with more chukar than I expected, and Angus still has it, so she’s had a good number of opportunities on solid points from the old warrior. She hasn’t connected yet, but I’m sure it’ll happen soon.
For me, I’m enjoying the action, and being able to hunt with Peat while Leslie’s off with Angus. While his nose is terrific, it’s not as dialed in yet as I’m sure it will get. He’s muddled a few coveys he should have smelled and pointed, but he’s also nailed some classic, thrilling points. My shooting still hasn’t improved much, but seems to be getting better; I’ve never practiced nearly as much as I have this year, mostly thanks to Leslie wanting to work on her shooting. She outshot me at trap last weekend.
As for the video, I miss making them and having the footage to work with. I’m not sure what to do about that. Once Leslie starts nailing the birds, I might leave my gun at home occasionally. Who knows. Maybe if I was to sell all my Chukar Culture hats and t-shirts I could hire a videographer to come along. Ha ha.
12 Replies to “Chukar Spaces”
How about maybe a Go Pro for the video? As far as the shooting I also own a Ultralight and love it but when I start shooting poorly I will punish myself to an over under 28 gauge for a while. It makes me slow down and hit one instead of having all three rounds in the air at once. I also believe proper choke and the right shells are vitally important to hitting Chukar. When one or two fly through a pattern it gets you thinking and that is a win for the Chukar. If you are thinking they are going down hill at 40 miles an hour with 3 angles to figure out and wonder what happened last time you are in trouble. My favorite combo in the Ultralight is 1 1/4 ounce of 9 shot at 1350 fps with a improved cylinder. Over a close working Brit it hammers birds.
Thanks for your comment, Mike. I had a GoPro but can’t stand watching that kind of wide-angle, jerky video, so won’t go back to it. Thanks also for the ballistic ideas. I’ve forever shot Rio 7.5 1-1/8 oz. 1350 fps loads with IC choke. And will probably continue. I’m batting about .500, which is okay when you’re a one-armed bandit facing Nolan Ryan or Hoyt Wilhelm. So I don’t mean to complain about bad shooting, because that’s kind of the definition of even the blandest of pointed chukar opportunities, right? I must say, though, that 9 shot seems downright paltry outside of 20-25 yards… Really?
I agree on the Go Pro. It gets old listening to yourself huff and puff and my wife also learned some words she didn’t know I had in my vocab. (From missed pointed birds). Non the less they are better than hiring the film crew and gives you something to watch afterwards. You can also use it like golfers do to see where you missed. I had a stellar point one day and hammered the first two birds and missed the last one going straight away. I couldn’t figure out why. I found I like to lift my head up after every shot and sometimes don’t get it back and too hot of a load in a 6lb 12 ga throws your head back.
Batting 500 is stellar for a Chukar Hunter. I don’t know about missing off a Brittany point. I had an old female that could give the foulest of looks when that happened. My brother is a phenomenal shot. He usually gets his six bird limit in 7-8 shells and guards the cooler but he always tells me it sounds like fun the way I blaze away. It is!
From 5-40 yards the 9s crush birds. It has 731 pellets versus the 394 in 1 1/8 7.5s in the same load with 6s and 9s at 40 yards in an improved cylinder the 6 puts 6-8 pellets in a bird while the 9s will do closer to 30. I’m also out of shells in an Ultralight by the time the birds hit 40 yards. It really does work. Last year I loaded 40 boxes of twenty gauge alone for Chukar and from doing that for the last 16 years I can tell you that 9, 7 and 6s are the way to go. I don’t know why but 5s drop legs and I have had no luck with 7.5s. Even Nickel plated. I learned about 9s from a man I hunted with in college. He was 40 years older than me and had broken his hips at one time. A legend of a Chukar hunter. Even 40 years my senior he always killed more birds than me and shot 9s.
That’s a persuasive argument on 9 shot. I’ve never analyzed it. Do you get a lot of shot in the meat? It would seem like it. I’ll pick up a couple boxes and try it. I’ve got a friend who’s been hunting chukar for 50 years and is trying to convince me to go down to 6 shot.
You do get a lot of shot. I think if I could only choose one it would be 6s. Im on my second bag of 7s and like them as well. Maybe this would be a fun article/experiment . One choke and gun, same load just different shot?
I don’t have the resources to conduct this experiment, but I’ll gladly publish your results, Michael. It sounds worthwhile. I will say that I rarely bite into 7-1/2 shot in my birds, and I wouldn’t want to increase the likelihood of breaking a tooth. I’d love to know what you see with 6 shot… (I still have half a case of my 7.5 shot.)
Ron and I have been shooting 1 oz of 6s in our 20 ga Benellis for a good while with IC. We used to shoot 7.5s but found we shot more chukars dead with 6s and had fewer cripples. Following a feather trail down a mountain that has the same slope percentage as my age(69.9years) is brutal cause it usually means climbing back up to the starting point. I may have to try the 9s. I’ve used them on doves in Sept when they don’t have the full winter plumage.
Bob – those are some great pictures you posted on this one. They have a LOT of feeling to them for me. Very great right up as well. Even without the video, I always enjoy reading about your hunts – so please keep that up. So far my season in SE Idaho has been dismal, so I am glad you have been finding numbers in new areas. We made that venture into new area this weekend and it didn’t produce. I will keep on keeping on though!
-Jeff (pointerspal on Instagram who follows you as well)
Jeff, thanks for your kind words. They are appreciated. Sorry to hear numbers in your area aren’t good. I seem to have found an island in a sea of paucity as far as chukar goes, and am grateful. We’re headed to another far-away place this weekend to see if the good number reports there are accurate. Stay tuned.
I agree 100% with you, Jeff, about the photos. They are beautiful, especially the “Space…” photo.
Thanks for posting your articles, Bob. Your writing and photos are captivating. It took reading just one article when I found your blog to get hooked.
Mounting Gun Exercise using a mirror by Chris Batha clay coach online. This has helped me the most with a consistent and proper gun mount. As for choke and shot selection 12&20 gage in early season I use 1 or 11/8 ounce 12ga and 7/8 or 1 ounce 20ga of copper or nickel 71/2 1350+ Mod choke. 28 gage 3/4 or 7/8 copper or nickel 71/2 Imp Mod choke less shot requires more choke for a clean kill. Its been my experience Chucker over dogs flush at an average of 30 yards a mod choke delivers approximately 70% of the pellets in a 30 inch circle at 30 yards you need 2 to 3 for a clean kill. Too open of a chokes and hail marry shots mean wounded birds the ones you don’t see get hit that fly off and die. For an example in your one of your videos your dog finds a bird you didn’t know you hit. I used to shoot open chokes last year I changed my thinking and tactics with great success food for thought.
Get the scabbard for the mini me. You won’t regret it. I no longer use a sling. Life changing…… both hands free. Ha!!!