Lucky to spend the weekend in Hells Canyon, and lucky to be able to hike in great weather in that awe-inspiring place. We didn’t find as many birds as I thought we might, but we found some. The lack of moisture has so parched the earth and all its vegetable accoutrements that it feels like walking on talcum powder. Springs, the ones I went to anyway, didn’t yield any good numbers (or any at all) of birds. They’re out there somewhere. We just didn’t find many, except very high, and scattered in ones and twos in rockpiles. It was, actually, good chukar hunting. The tarnish on all this, which gets worse each passing year, is the uncontrolled, rapid spread of medusahead rye. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s completely taken over every surface in Hells Canyon within the next ten years. At that point, it will be truly unhuntable. So get out there and enjoy it while you can. We are.

The light patches of grass in the background are medusahead, which wasn’t in this area just last year.
All medusahead, crowding out even the cheatgrass
Light-colored medusahead patches on the Oregon side are spreading, too.
Peat retrieves one unlucky chukar
I’m down there somewhere
Just add water, then we’ll have something.

8 Replies to “Report”

  1. Medusahead grass is what the oregon biologists claim is one major reason for the downturn in chukars on the east side of owhyee res. No food value or nesting value for wildlife. Bad news as is starthistle to the north.

  2. Bob, do I see the one, who thought the LL Bean pant made you look fat, wearing the LL Bean pant?
    I took your advice and bought a pair myself couple weeks ago. Haven’t hunted with them yet, but fit, finish, weight, fabric, and price and all very impressive. I also bought Bean’s Improved Briar Shirt, which appears equally impressive, especially for folks with longer arms. Will try both hunting Dusky grouse this weekend.
    I was a fan of LL Bean in the late 70’s, early 80’s. Thanks for bringing me back!

    1. Good eye, Kerry: yes, she’s actually wearing my hand-me-downs. She tried some pants from a “women’s only” hunting apparel company, and they were not appealing visually or functionally. The Bean pants are the best since my old Wrangler upland jeans. I’ll check out that Briar shirt…

  3. Sure enjoy your blog during chukar season. I have seen Medusahead at work around Jordan Valley. It didn’t take long for it to completely take over a large part of the area making alot of the hillsides unproductive. It is so sad to see knowing that an area will never be the same. Believe that this weed was brought in by cattle which ate the seeds in their feed and pooped it on the hillside. Cattle grazing will have a great effect on the sport we love in the future

    1. Thanks, Scott. Yep, sad but true. A price to pay for beef. Easy for me to say since I’m not a rancher. But I’d like to think there’s a future for this activity; the medusahead problem seems to be the ecological equivalent to the land-grab threat. I’m not an activist, though. So maybe I should just shut up and enjoy looking for birds while I still can?

  4. I’m sorry to learn of the medusahead rye problem. Unfortunately, it seems that all of our beloved upland and waterfowl hunting habitats are under siege from one threat or another — development, modern farm practices (pheasants), lack of fires (quail and prairie grouse), lack of logging (ruffed grouse need young forests), changing climate, and now this? So sad….

    BTW, I really enjoy your photos and writing, Bob. Thank you!

    1. Thanks, Mark. It is indeed sad, as you so well put it, that the land seems to get short shrift more and more. The medusahead problem is one I think will mostly finish off the chukar in the west. The only hope is that the cattle industry might realize that medusahead is a problem for open range cattle as well, and try to eradicate it. But it’s far worse than cheat grass.

Chirp away

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