We got an early start and headed up the mountain in the dark wearing headlamps for the first part of the climb. After about an hour of zigzagging up the mountain the sun started to rise in the distance. Some parts of the climb were super steep and I ended up having to grasp some clumps of bunchgrass and branches of sagebrush to pull myself further up. Legal shooting hours were one half hour before sunrise but Bob’s goal was to reach the top of the rocky ridge and not start hunting until the downhill. This was early fall and still pretty warm outside during the day and he was hoping that the birds would be heading up after spending the early morning drinking water down by the river and, as they say in cowboy movies, “Head them off at the pass.” This was my first time hiking for chukar with Bob and Angus and this whole world of seeing things off trail was new and exciting.
Bob asked if I’d carry our video camera to record some of the hunt that day. I’d never used our video camera before and he showed me how to operate it the night before. He told me that the red light meant you were recording and the green light meant it was stopped. Besides negotiating new terrain and trying to keep up with Bob and Angus, my job was also to stay out of the way and be ready to film at all times. When something would happen which I wasn’t anticipating because I didn’t understand what was going on, Bob would signal me that Angus was onto birds or he was on point so I could start filming. With so much going on in my mind that day, operating the camera and pushing the correct button was the opposite of what Bob told me and that the green light meant go. Unbeknownst to me, I spent most of that day recording the ground thinking the camera was turned off.
The descent on this first chukar hunt was equally challenging and it was easier on my legs to go up than down. Chukar country is steep. We stopped on the way down and I took off my backpack to get something out of it and sat my pack on the ground. Before I knew it my pack was somersaulting down the hill. I stood there and watched in disbelief not being able to do anything about it and thanked my lucky stars that it was still zipped up and that we were heading downhill in that direction anyway.
When we got home Bob sorted through at least an hour of footage of nothing but the moving ground and dizzying images of boots. I was embarrassed by my lack of getting something on film but he found at least a couple of minutes of hunting action and he made a short video and uploaded it to YouTube. The name of the movie was “Another Chukar Hunting Adventure with Angus.” Back in 2010, YouTube was still fairly new and there weren’t a whole lot of chukar hunting videos out there. Anything was better than nothing, we thought, and we even got some positive feedback on the video and not too many thumbs down. I agreed to carry the camera the next time we went out, and the next and the next and that continued for another seven years until I finally got tired of following Bob around the mountain with the camera and got a shotgun and started hunting myself.
I call our YouTube contributions “home movies” because they’re not professional quality by any means. Over the course of those seven years of filming, my fitness improved and usually I was able to stay with Bob plus anticipate when something might happen, and I learned to try and hold the camera still and slow my breathing down or hold my breath while filming so we wouldn’t have so much heavy breathing but that wasn’t always easy.
During this down time we’ve all been having the past month, I’ve been going back and rewatching some of the videos we made over the years. A virtual rabbit hole of good times spent on the mountain. This first video, Another Chukar Hunting Adventure with Angus is the movie made with the footage from my maiden day on the mountain. I’d never seen chukar hunting in person or a pointing dog working until that day and immediately knew that it was something special.
This next one, How Not to Handle a Hun was made in 2013. We took “The Kid” Jarret hunting and he learned that not all birds are retrieved dead. It was a good learning experience for him and me. It’s something that carried over when I started hunting. My first Hungarian partridge that Angus retrieved for me during my first season wasn’t dead. I had to deal with it and it’s not pleasant but it’s part of upland hunting.
Chukar Hunting Retriever Man was filmed on the 2016 season opener with our friend Cameron. We lost one of the birds on a rocky cliff down by the water and Angus couldn’t get to it. We decided to go back and get the boat and motor back upriver to find it. While Cam was retrieving it up in the rocks, Angus ate Cam’s roast beef sandwich. We still laugh about it.
Shit Chukar Hunters Say was my idea back in 2013. I’d seen something called “Shit Cyclists Say” and wanted to make a chukar hunter version of it. We made it with our friend Greg on the hill behind our house. We didn’t really have much of a script and Bob and Greg did a wonderful job ad libbing.
Public Land Chukar Hunting in Idaho. We went hunting in a place we’d never been before back in 2016 and at a place we really didn’t expect to find chukar but did. I really like this video because it was the first time Bob did a voice over and I love that about it. (He made this video as an example for a video project he had his students do.)
A Walk for Chukar is one that I made myself last year when learning how to use iMovie. It celebrates the landscapes where these birds live. I love this video and can watch it over and over.
This last video, Another Chukar Hunting Adventure with Angus, 2020, is footage from this past season 2019/2020. I just made it this week. We used the same music from that first one made in 2009, and the only thing that is different is location and all three of us are much older.
Looking back at these and watching them, there is one thing that resonates with us, inspires us, and makes us look forward to next season are these beautiful places in the chukar hills.