Out Of Control: Chukar Hunting

Rays of golden sun and smoke gray clouds fight for dominance. Ultimately the sun wins. The Wyoming wind also has skin in the game and seeks to make a shot at the title. The dogs and I are merely props in the scene.

Pulling up a hood and zipping my collar I seek to keep warm. The wind chills my core as I begin my ascent. Cresting atop the massiff of sage and kitty litter rock, my torso is cold yet perspiration accumulates on my head and begins to seep toward my brow.

Time is limited so we seek to cover ground. On one hand, past experience gives me confidence birds are in the area. Past experience also informs me that the area is several miles square. I’d give our prospects even odds. Even odds of finding birds. What happens then is anyones guess.

Chasing chukar is it’s own beast. A friend recently told me that you first hunt chukar for enjoyment and every time after that is for revenge.  I can relate, even if I don’t whole heartedly agree. At a minimum hunting them isn’t easy.

On this day I left the collars on the charger. Midway through the season and their lives, the dogs were working well. Birdy often, I expected a rise on multiple occasions. At long last I saw the birds. A dozen or more bobble heads scurrying uphill through cheat grass.

Blessed to have found birds, and cursed because they had the jump on us, I reeled in the dogs. The male didn’t respond. My usual quiet whistle and whisper yell went unheeded. With no e-collar to reinforce my command I ended up yelling at the top of my lungs watching him in hot pursuit of the birds nearly a hundred yards away.

Somehow we were able to regroup without flushing birds. Heading up an adjacent draw, we worked to reposition and gain the upper hand. With the wind in our face, the dogs looked as if they were running on their hind legs alone. Noses were stretched to the sky, full of scent. As soon as my eyes could peer over the ridge birds began to erupt.

In classic fashion, chukar flushed low and flew straight downhill. There were no good shots. Out of desperation I emptied the gun and was lucky to scratch down a bird. In the chaos I failed to mark the remaining birds down. The dogs had an extra spring in their step. A smile crept across my face. The wind seemed to disappear and I unzipped my jacket on the walk home. Satisfaction was our currency and we were rich.



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