Idaho Chukar Hunting

In 2018, after many hours of research, we purchased our first 2 bird dogs, Kodiak and little Anne. We had no idea how to train these dogs. After much reading we started to tackle this project. We soon found out that these dogs had strong bird drive and taught us more then we taught them. Once fall rolled around we headed out with our dogs to tackle upland birds. On our list was pheasant, quail, huns, and chukars. Where to find them? We had no idea. So the first few months were wasted trying to find birds in preserves and on desolate public ground. With no luck, we started to get disappointed and thought we screwed up. “Should have got a lab and just set in a duck blind” is what was said and thought many times.

 It was early November and my 2 brothers, my brother in law, and I set out on our first chukar hunt. We had no idea where the birds would be, but had an idea of what to look for after doing lots of research on google. It was 27 degrees outside, there was a light coating of snow on the ground, and the sun was out. As we set into the canyon we were excited! The first mile we found that our brother in law was having trouble keeping up and we were jawing at the bit to go because we had seen tracks in the snow. The dogs were full of energy and going crazy as they busted the first covey with over-excitement. The birds went everywhere and then we heard a loud thud as our brother in law rolled an ankle and hit the ground his shotgun rolling down the rocks. He was done. He was headed back to the pickup and we pushed on hoping for more birds. We soon encountered rocks that were as big as semi-trucks. Kagen had to carry his pup, Hazel through them group after group. My dogs were struggling to get through as well and to make things worse we keep bumping birds. The dogs were getting super excited and not pointing. We let a few shots go here and there having trouble keeping our footing and amazed at how fast those little devils could fly downhill. After about a 3 miles of this Seth and I were a little ahead of Kagen and we bumped a bird that flew right towards him and he shot and let out a yell “I got one”! We celebrated and set down to eat lunch while Kagen headed down the cliff to get his bird.  Ten minutes went by and I asked Seth, “do you think it was that far down or he cannot find it?” Seth just shrugged his shoulders. I told him I would go check. When I got to Kagen he was walking around on his boot liner because the soul had fallen off and he was mad. “I know the bird was right here somewhere”, he said. So I yelled back to Seth and said bring the dogs. When the dogs got there they started searching and within 5 minutes, Kodiak was headed down a hole in the rocks and returned with our first chukar. What a feeling to have one in the bag! Without that 8 month old dog it would have never been found we were overpowered with pride for our dog.

As we sat there and celebrated, reality came back and we remembered that Kagen no longer had a boot and that we were 4 miles from the truck in some rocky terrain. Just having shot our first chukar, we had no desire to turn back. We soon decided that Kagen would head back and that Seth and I would trek on. We soon had dogs on point and the excitement built as we ran over to where they were. Below a little cliff, a covey of chukars busted and we unloaded the shotguns. Sitting in a pile of casings, we soon realized two things. One, there was no birds on the ground and the dogs were looking as us like, “we finally did it right and you guys screwed it up?!?” The second thing was to always be ready. Because, after we had reloaded and started to pout, the last bird of that covey flew and we weren’t ready for it.

 After that, we headed back to the truck and although it was only one bird on the day for four guys, we were exhausted, had lots of scraped from falling, we were addicted. Why chukars you may ask? What other bird tests every physical ability, asks you to climb to a dog on point, and still you miss? Why do we do this? It is definitely an addiction. Each time we go we always wonder why? But, when that dog locks on point after 8 miles of unforgiving country and we get a bird, we always look at each other and say “this is why we do it”. Once we get home we bust out google maps and start planning the next adventure. Some people might ask why do all that for a pound of meat? I truly can’t answer that. It’s more than a pound of meat and I can’t explain. All I can say is you have to do it to know, and maybe be a little bit crazy.

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