Yesterday, we carefully sneaked out of the house to head down to the canyon with just Peat, leaving Angus behind. The old warrior Angus has been running lots of miles hunting the past couple of weeks and against his will we forced him to take the day off. We knew getting ready to go wouldn’t be easy without him catching on so we put both Peat and Angus inside the car in the garage while we dressed and loaded up our hunting gear into pickup outside. Once ready, we let them back into the house and corralled Peat outside into the pickup and drove off and looked back as Angus was watching in disappointment from the fenced yard.

The higher mountain elevations were blanketed with a fresh layer of snow overnight so we decided to hunt in a spot down in Hells Canyon, a place we hadn’t walked around this season and where there wasn’t as much snow. Our starting point was an easy spot to access right off the highway. Bob decided not to hunt so Peat could have a chance to hunt for me for a change. In the past so far, and we’re not sure why, but whenever Bob hunts, Peat prefers to only stay with him. As with all hunts down in the canyon, the terrain dictates that the only way is up so we headed up a small game trail in a thick draw lined with brush and trees hoping to find some grouse on the way up. Within five minutes, Peat busted through the brush and stopped above us, barking his head off. His bark was different this time, not his usual high pitched barking he makes when he flushes a grouse up into a tree. His bark was deeper and had the sound of fear in it. We quickly made our way up to him and found the source of his agitation. A big beautiful bobcat with haunting golden eyes was caught in a trapper’s snare underneath some bushes. I was angry. How could a trapper get away with putting a trap in an area close to a popular bird hunting area where hunting dogs could also get accidentally caught? Trapping bobcat in Idaho is totally legal from Dec 14-Feb 16 in this area so there was nothing we could do but walk away. We normally carry heavy duty wire cutters in case the dogs ever got into a snare but they were at home in Bob’s hunting pack. I would never mess with any trappers traps unless one of the dogs got caught in one and I would never tamper with or free wildlife from traps because it’s actually illegal to do so.

Trapped cat

Trying to put the whole affair behind us and forget about it, we continued our climb up about 1,500 feet with Oregon at our back and up into the snow that we were trying to get away from in the first place before finally getting into some birds.

Fence line ascent
The wall

Once at the top of the steep climb, Peat found and pointed a covey of Huns and I managed to knock down one as they busted and flew downhill over the ridge. Peat, not used to hunting with just me, was confused on whether to bring the bird to me or to Bob.

First point of the day
The retrieve
Thank you Peat!
Pointing chukar
Pointing a covey of chukar
What next?
Heading down and away from the draw

The bluebird sky, amazing views, and Peat brilliantly hunting just for me made up for our terrible start. Yesterday’s hunt will be forever remembered as “Bobcat Gulch.” Now knowing that traps are in the area we will probably never hunt there again and especially not during trapping season.

18 Replies to “Haunting”

  1. As an avid Chukar Hunter and also someone who has done a lot of trapping I understand the Dynamics of both sides of your “rough start” morning. It’s a scary overlap of public land use opportunities.

    While I was trapping I would get so frustrated with the lazy guy who would throw down some steel or worse sling a snare where it would be too easy for a non target encounter. I would set mine high and out of the way. There was no reason for that snare to be there. It gives the trapping community a black eye. The danger factor to your dog is one thing but also the public image of stewardship is lost when someone has to see your catch before you get to it. Not everyone appreciates the sight of that.

    As a dog owner I am relieved your dog didn’t hit that snare. That’s just plain scary.

    Glad your day did end with finding birds!

    1. Kye, I appreciate your comment from both sides. Seeing that cat was a reminder that public lands are multi-use and that’s what makes our public lands so great!
      Yes, I’m glad Peat didn’t hit the snare or another one out there but next time we head down there we just need to be prepared. I hesitated on posting the photo of the cat but just wanted other chukar hunters to understand the reality of it so that can also be prepared during the overlap of upland bird hunting and trapping seasons. Thanks we had a great hunt. Leslie

  2. Traps scare me. I had a dog caught in a leghold trap about 5 years ago. He was fine once we got him out. Now I always carry all the gear to get a dog out of various types of traps.

    1. Leghold trap, wow! I’m glad your dog was fine. Thanks for mentioning “gear to get a dog out of various types of traps.” What all do you carry? I need to brush up on all the different types of traps and how to free a dog from them. Thanks, Leslie

  3. Too bad for old Angus. I shot my last Mearns over Hannah on the 24th. I suspect it will be the last bird she will point and retrieve. She is 13 in March and September is a long way off. Happy New Year to you and Bob. Enjoy the snows of January. I am in South Texas for the remainder of the winter. Different things to hunt down here.

    1. Sam, I’m sorry to hear that it might be Hannah’s last season. You’ve had many great hunts with her. Angus is better today, he had a knee abrasion that was bugging him but it has healed. Happy New Year to you, Hannah, and Susie! Cheers, Leslie

  4. Great post! I worry about traps as well. Hunting in public land in Kansas we found a snare the hard way. But it wasn’t the dog that got caught, it was me! It was a plastic coated wire snare. It is a very strange feeling to be snared and stopped in your tracks. Thank goodness for opposable thumbs!

    1. I’ve never thought about getting my foot stuck into a trap. The sudden sensation of the trap, I’d be afraid it was a rattlesnake that bit me instead of a trap, especially during the early season. Thanks for the comment, Leslie

  5. So glad everyone is okay & thank you for sharing as I had not put much thought to carrying gear to cut them out as needed. I am curious what others carry for the thought of getting our four legged friends out of harm if needed ?

    1. Ryan, search online “How to Release Your Pet from a Trap” the Idaho Fish and Game has a brochure pdf. They mention carrying heavy duty wire cutters and 6-foot rope or leash. They also explain the different types of traps and how they operate. Thanks for reading and the comment. Happy New Year!

    1. I’ve never tried duck hunting, looks like equally as challenging getting a shot at fast flying birds. Ducks are delicious too! Have fun out there chukar hunting with the few weeks we have left of it.

  6. Awesome photos. Excellent work and congrats on getting in a “bluebird” chukar hunt. I commented today that we’ve been luck and so far have avoided the “low fog inversions” we are so famous for following a snow storm…. Wishing you all the best for 2019!! Cheers!!!

    1. Thank you so much! Bob sacrificed a day of hunting by carrying our nice camera…I’m glad he did and got those pointing dog photos since that is the best thing about hunting. Yes, great weather so far, we hope January is just as nice. Cheers to you!

  7. I have a hard time understanding why we tolerate trapping, public or private. It fails the fair chase test, it supports the marketization of wildlife, it is rife with abuse, usually is poorly regulated, is indiscriminate, usually managed without rigorous science, and recklessly endangers hunters and dogs.

    This is not a “values” assessment. This is observation. I know we’re “supposed” to band together as public land users. But trapping to make some extra cash seems a poor exchange for the affront to fair chase and risk to other public land users.

    I don’t know why we hunters fall on our swords for trapping.

      1. I agree with Rookiebird, too. It might be an unanswerable question, at least here in Idaho. But it is definitely not fair chase in any sense at all. I pledge to do what I can about it if the opportunity presents itself again, regardless of the legality of tampering with traps.

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