We had traveled about 2 hours and 45 minutes over roads that you would want to travel only on your ATV or off road motorcycle when I mentioned that this looked like a good spot. No sooner had I said it than a covey of chukars flushed above the road and flew across and curved down the mountain. We couldn’t turn around there so we went a bit farther until we could and then went back down and got out of the truck. We spread out and side hilled back where the birds had flown. I was the farthest down the hill when the covey blasted out from somewhere up above. We all shot but no birds fell. My shot was at an almost overhead rocket into the sun and I’m sure I didn’t lead it enough.
They dropped Nellie and me off at a saddle near where the covey had flushed and the others got in the truck and headed back up the hill. I was to hunt on the other side of the mountain going up toward the truck and they would be hunting down toward me until we eventually met. We began side hilling around the mountain into a fairly stiff breeze with hopes of picking up a scent. After a little while Nellie stopped and looked down the hill – not a point but an indication that that she may have picked up a slight scent. We began easing down the mountain for perhaps 75 yards and then she did hit a good point. Just as I eased past her a covey flushed down and to my left and I dropped two chukars. As we were heading down to find the downed birds a late flushing juvenile bird got up but I rushed my shot and shot under it. Nellie brought back the second bird I had shot and as I was trying to locate the first one a couple more late flushers got up but I wasn’t quick enough to get a shot. Nellie came back up and found the first bird and it was good to have something in the bag.
As we proceeded around the mountain I began hearing shots from above and in front of me so I knew the others had got into some birds. Before long I met the group and Ken had already downed 4 birds and Bob had 2. As chukars always fly downhill they proceeded to the bottom of the draw where there was a road and I dropped down a little and reversed my direction so we were all going the same way.
I heard more shooting below me and eventually a single bird flushed from in front of me while Nellie was working up the hillside to my left. It was a straight away shot and I dropped the bird and Nellie come down and retrieved it. After a while we all met at a point where three draws converged with a small stream at the bottom. Bob had gotten one more bird as well. It was midday and getting very warm. After a little break and some energy bars Brian, Bob and I crossed the stream with the plan of climbing the opposite mountain side and working back toward the truck. The side hills were killing Ken’s back so he decided to go back to the truck on the road below us.
As we climbed up the mountain one or two more sage grouse got up and eventually Nellie hit a point to my left. As I headed her way a lone chukar got up far out of range. It had apparently run across our path up the hill. After progressing a considerable distance with nothing to show but an occasional sage grouse flush I decided to climb up top to the left where there was a promising looking saddle. I was really tired but you only die once. Nellie was really tired too. In fact, as I got near the top I discovered I was by myself and she was hunting with Brian and Bob below.
As I neared the top I heard shouts from below that Ken, down on the road, had seen some birds land above me. I promptly got Ken on the radio and he directed me to the exact spot when he had seen the birds land. They weren’t there so I knew they had run to the top which wasn’t very far. By that time Rocky, the Pointer, had joined me. We went to the top and before long Rocky gave me a good point. As I got even with Rocky the covey exploded to my left and I got off three shots dropping two birds. Rocky found my second bird, brought it about half way back and stopped and lay down under the shade of a sage bush. He was tired too. He didn’t want to look for the other bird but I finally persuaded him to do so and he eventually found it but he wouldn’t pick it up.
From there we trudged back up to the truck where Ken was waiting and Brian and Bob eventually made it up. I had heard more shooting below and Bob had picked up another bird which Nellie had retrieved for him. He said she didn’t want to give it to him but was looking for me.
We had a late lunch and moved to another spot that was level and did a quick but unproductive sweep. We were all dead tired (although I wasn’t as tired as I had been the previous day) and headed back for the long journey to the ranch. We ended the day with Ken and Bob having bagged 4 apiece and I had 5. We saw a nice mule deer buck and some antelope on the way back. Again we cleaned the birds while Brian prepared some delicious chicken on the grill. Cary, the owner of the guide service, had arrived and made another agreeable companion to our group. Again, no problem sleeping this night.
The first picture is Bob with Nellie and Brian and Ken. The second is typical of the terrain we were hunting. (To be continued) M/W