My lungs were about to explode, which masked the burning in my quads. The terrain was unforgiving. So were the birds. We had been in birds all day, but it was the last day of the season and they were onto us. Only minutes prior I had managed to scratch down my first chukar of the day.
The covey had broken up and we were looking for singles. Wrapping around a snow covered spine coming off a massive ridge I would have been better suited carrying an ice axe than a Benelli. Without much warning a chukar was in flight, rising left to right, strangely headed uphill, and towards me. The bird was tearing over my right shoulder as I simultaneously spun and mounted my gun.
The physics were no longer in my favor. The forty five degree slope was unable to support me and I fell backwards, downhill, just as I pulled the trigger. Miraculously, especially given my wing shooting tendencies, I connected and the bird dropped over the ridge.
Landing on my pack, head downhill, I slid for a few feet. Once things came to a halt, I was able to take stock in the yard sale around me. The gun had been tossed and lay uphill, no injury seemed to be incurred, a few shells were scattered around me. All I could do was laugh. As I picked up the pieces, my female lab came over the hill with our second bird of the day.