I just recently experienced the worst chukar hunt I can remember. The hunt before this one was pretty bad too. For several hours of hunting we found only one covey on which Bess made a great point and I just blew two holes in the air. On this hunt we had planned a trip up the river to an area which had been posted. The property had been sold and the “No Trespassing” signs removed. After a long cold trip up the river we landed the boat and began to start our hunt only to find a posted sign that we hadn’t seen.
So we went back down the river to a place we had not hunted in many years. We later found out why we hadn’t. The first debacle was when Ken radioed me that he had just seen a covey fly up the bottom of a draw I had just passed. I went back and started up the draw. Before long both Nellie and Bess were on point down near the bottom. When I got to the dogs nothing flushed so I started past them down to the next level when my feet slipped out from under me. That commotion caused a chukar to flush down below which would have been an easy shot had I not fallen. Fortunately Ken was across the little draw and was able to bag the bird that flew toward him. That was his high point for the day.
After hunting for a couple of hours and having seen nothing, an unpointed Hun flushed above and behind me. I turned and got a snap shot just as it was disappearing behind a hill. I didn’t know if I had hit it but Ken who was on the other side of the canyon said it had fallen. I went back to try to find it and just as Nellie was about to pick it up, it took off across and above me. I took a quick off balance shot and shot over it. Again it disappeared from my sight but Ken said it went down in a ditch about 50 yards away. Eventually Bess found the bird which was dead by this time and retrieved it. This was my highlight of the trip.
After a while I lost Bess which is not unusual because she covers a lot of ground. When I whistled and she didn’t come I knew she was somewhere on point. Eventually I faintly heard the beeper up above me and made my way up to her. I could tell by her point that the birds were very close to her. I got ready to shoot and edged along the steep hill beneath her. Then two chukars flushed a fraction of a second apart. The first one flew left and back and while my brain was telling my body to shoot that bird the second one flushed right and back somewhat closer to me. That caused me to hesitate and I didn’t get a shot at either one.
As we were nearing the river to give it up, a covey flushed across the draw from me out of range and I watched them turn up river staying low. I followed them around the point and before long the dogs were pointing down in a little notch in the cliff. This time a single bird flushed but flew down and behind the cliff so quickly that I couldn’t even begin to get my gun up.
Now I was ready to get back to the boat as soon as I could find a way down. About 200 yards further I found a draw allowing me to climb down. As I was trying to get down I heard Bess’s beeper and she was pointing over the edge of the cliff toward the river. I had to climb a fence before slowly working my way down to her. I moved into position and a chukar flushed affording me an easy shot. I quickly mounted the gun and pulled the trigger only to hear the sickening sound of a blooper reload - the first one I’ve had in several years. Then another bird flushed just to my right affording another easy shot but I knew the wad was stuck in my barrel so I didn’t dare shoot.
Dejectedly I blew the wad out of my gun and began working my way down the last level to the river. It was steep and I slipped on the loose rocks. As I fell my left hand hit squarely on a bunch of cactus. The palm and outside of my hand had suddenly grown whiskers. I didn’t want to try to scrape them off with my knife because I knew they would break off and stay in my hand. I knew we had some pliers at the boat.
Bess went on point again up the cliff a little ways and a bird flushed down and then turned down river affording a straight away shot. I pulled up and shot and somehow managed to miss. This was when I discovered that my safety would not go on. Later at home when I took it apart I discovered that some of the powder from the blooper had jammed it.
Back at the boat Ken (who was already there) and I spent some time with pliers pulling needles out of my hand. In the process I became really light headed and eventually had to lie down on the beach. I ate something but that didn’t seem to help much. I wonder if it may have been a reaction to the poison in the cactus.
On the way back to the boat we discovered another posted sign at this place which undoubtedly is the reason we hadn’t returned to hunt here before now.
We did manage to make it back without a boat wreck. I guess I’ve already had more than my share of those. M/W