Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Valley Quail Hunting in Idaho

Bea has 'em!

Last Day Pups Action
None of them 2 years old yet!
5 Birds Pointed in that shrub.

A great way to finish this trip!  We put all four pups on the ground and hunted a  honey-hole we found earlier in the trip.  Action started heating up about an hour before sunset with two covey finds and  numerous singles pointed.  30 minutes after the pups pic, it was time to return to the truck.  Awesome finish to a great hunt.  The most memorable thing about this trip is the great people we met!  We hunted with some real gurus- chukar, valley quail, Huns- some real specialists.  The one day I hunted Chukar, this young buck mountain goat showed up and took me in areas I'd never go.  I got to admit, I was one worn out bird hunter at the end of that day!  He had us over to his house later for dinner (big slab of grilled Idaho salmon) and we met his lovely wife and children and listened to the Snake River shoosh by while we told tall tales and lies about bird dogs and hunts.  Finally, I was falling asleep listening (anyone who knows me would understand, it was almost 10pm, after all) and Robert suggested we needed to get back to the motel.  Another good friend invited us up to Sun Valley to meet yet another couple and we all went out to eat.  It was snowing so hard, we stayed over at their home (on a 7000 ac. ranch with elk, deer and wolves) and left in the early morning to beat the next storm. Several new friends offered to take  us around the area and we just had no time to do it.  What a wonderful problem to have.  You all know who you are, so thank you so much for your kindness and generosity! 

All of this came about through our contacts on Facebook (yes, even worn out bird hunters are on Facebook) in a Group called "Bird Dogs and Fly Fishing".  It is a closed group, which means you must be invited by someone you have "friended", who is already in the group.  I think you can also go to the group and request to join.  The pictures and discussions are friendly and helpful (I changed several things I do, based on advice from bird hunters all over the country).  Give it a look and see what you think.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Random cool pics of Idaho hunt

Cap on a chukar retrieve

One worn out pup

Ruby backing a horse
Male Sage Grouse

Randy and Cap

You want me to go where?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

This country can get in to your head. Wonder what real estate is
doing around here?

Saturday, January 28, 2012


My First Chukar!
Brittany on the Rocks Pointed
Chukar Retrieve!

Cap on Chukar #2

Break Time among the Rocks
After flailing around for two days on our own, even with good advice from friends, I decided I wasn't going to chase Chukar without someone along that knows what they are doing.  A game biologist from the area took pity on us and said, "Come on.  I'll show you Chukar."   What he kindly neglected to say was we would climb mountains, wade streams, walk snow and rocks and cold and hot and freezing and sweaty- all within 1 hour- just to get to Chukar Country.  Then the fun part started!  My pup, Cap, and his dog, Remy, were the two on the ground and they both did very well.  Once we got in the area, Cap headed up the mountain and made a 350 yard cast and pointed!  I figured he was relieving himself and didn't mention it.  After several minutes of this, I mentioned that he was on point (about 200 yards away, now) and we started moving there in earnest.  Finally, we saw him moving again high on the rocks and I called him down.  I no sooner got the whistle out of my mouth, when a flash  of feathers and noise came from my left off the face off a small rock face.  Never having seen a Chukar flush, I hesitated for a nanosecond running through the cataloge of species, etc., and came to the conclusion this was the bird.  Gun up- bird down!  My first Chukar.  I soon learned that Aaron shot, too..so I shared that one with him. Later on, Cap found a covey of 15 in the rocks and held them tight.  I knocked one down over the edge on to a shelf above the creek (the same one waded through earlier).  Aaron was up much higher overlooking the shelf.  He called out that Cap descended the rocks, was on the shelf and now was on point (pic above) on my wounded bird.  I eased down there, took some pictures, then kicked the bird up and watched the show.  He came out of the bush trying to fly and took off running!  Cap broke and I yelled, "Fetch 'em up, Cap!  Go get 'em!"  Those little suckers can run, too.  Cap was on his tail as he zig-zagged down the shelf!  Once, Cap almost caught him, and with a burst of speed, the bird went over a drop off. Cap never hesitated and went right after him!  Silence followed as we both waited.  About 30 seconds later, out from the creek bottom, my little pup came trotting up with a bird in his mouth. (pic)  He put it in my hand and looked at me as if to say, "What are we waiting for?  There's birds up there, Boss!"  Oh my aching legs.....

Aaron's dog, Remy, a Vizla, did really well.  A young dog, she will be a star for him next year.  Thanks, Aaron, for taking us up in the mountains...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Cotton and Maggie

A few of the harvest
Cotton, Ruby, Maggie and Bandit had this one pointed and  backed

Cap locked down
We are getting a lot of good work on our dogs out here.  Today was probably the best day I've had hunting quail in years.  And, it all started out fairly normal.  I'd found a small covey the day prior about 30 minutes before quitting for the day. Since we were passing by on the way to another area, I suggested we stop in and see if we couldn't find the larger group...just for a few minutes.  Well, 6 hours later, we were still in that area, all the dogs had finds and backs and retrieves and I was out of shells!  Wow!  Every once in a while you DO get the bear.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Shoot and Release Hunting

Cap Pointing a Brush Pile
Ruby Pointing a Quail in a Tree
Robert's Cotton
 Today saw some stuff not normally seen in bird hunting. The
first was Ruby pointing a valley quail in a tree.  The second involved the new eco-friendly shoot and
release program!
I made a nice shot on one quail in a brushy draw high above the north
bank of the Snake River. When Cap went in for the retrieve, he found
the bird just fine, but it was stuck in the top of a bush! So, I
wandered over to the bird and picked it out of the bush. Then, to get
some training in, I dispatched the bird and tossed it to a clear area
to get a retrieve from Cap and Bandit. Immediately as the bird hit the
ground, it got up, dusted off his feathers and ran on out of there.
Much to my chagrin, none of the dogs on the ground could find the
bird. Ah, bird hunting!

Motel Recommendations

The place to stay in Mountain Home,Idaho for bird hunters. Dog friendly and very accomodating......and reasonable. 

This little guy let me take his picture!
Ruby and Me

We are having fun at camp.  Send money!

These Valley Quail, at least right here, are challenging to hunt.  They like the thick brush, and the fly like the wind.  The good news is they travel in large crowds and the world erupts when they take to flight.  The dogs are occasionally having a hard time with scenting, especially the fast movers.  Today, we are moving a little south on the Snake to some new areas and we are hopeful for more birds.  

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chukar Tracks

Ruby and Ace on the banks of the Snake River pointed on a covey of Valley Quail

Ruby retrieving and quail to me after she pointed

Male Valley Quail

A great second day.  As luck would have it, we sat next to a local real estate agent and bird hunter at breakfast.  He allowed as to how it was good hunting in an area he knows, so he drew a map.  It was great! Thank you, Jim!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Valley Quail in Idaho 1

I was a first for me and my dogs. After 2.5 days of driving we arrived to a storm of "epic" proportions! Up to that point, it was a dry year- so dry it made the record books. I half-jokingly mentioned that I would end that with my arrival! Sure enough...I did.

Although it was snowing elsewhere, the land we hunted was still dry with occasional rain. The Valley Quail were there and in pretty good numbers. The top photo is me and my pup, Cap. Next is Cap locked down on the slope of an irrigation ditch followed be another point and a back by Bean, as setter owned by me friend. Actually, Bean was the star of the day, with three finds on singles harvested.

It amazes me the cover these Valley Quail inhabit. It is more suitable to pheasant. Cattails, thick grass and weeds, creek bottoms.....just amazing!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

While Waiting for the Next Hunt

Cap locked down on quail.

I had a little time before the next hunt (Idaho in January) so I entered my pups in a few trials around the area.  I've been running NSTRA trials since 1992 when I entered my first Brittany, Rocket, in a trial up in the hills of north Georgia.  I've had some success over the years, and a few dogs that were less than successful.  However, I did learn the game and I do enjoy spending the day with like-minded people, talking dogs and hunting and trialing. I decided to enter my two Brittany pups, Cap (B/M) and Ruby (B/F) and just see what they could do.  The first trial was in Alabama and they both did OK, for first time dogs.  At least, they weren't "placed upon" and they did find their fair share of birds.  There was a lot of learning and laughs on the field, for me at least, as I watched them dart around and try their very best to do what the big boys were doing.  (They run "amateur" dogs at these trials, too, but I figure my pups should be able to hold their own and take their lumps.  So, I entered them in the Open class.)  The next trial was down in Pavo, GA and, once again, they did OK.  They did draw some notice from the gallery for their hunt and they way they worked with and for me.  No placements, but for young, new dogs, they did very well. 

 Last weekend, I entered them in a trial up in north GA, Ball Ground, GA.  On Saturday, they both took the fields like pros!  I was very pleased with their handing and finds and backs.  Their ground coverage was excellent and I sensed it was just a matter of time before the breakthrough came.  Saturday afternoon, Cap (shown above) had a pretty decent run and took a third place- qualifying for the Region Championships in March.  It was quite a coup for him- he's not even two yet and was running like a much more mature dog.  Sunday was another story altogether.  Cap was awesome!  He ended up with a very strong first place and looked polished and strong doing it.  Ruby, on another field, racked up another first place, also.  Oddly, her score was matched exactly by another dog. So we chose to have a coin toss to determine the winner- I lost.  It doesn't take anything away from Ruby, at all.  She did her part and tied for first place. 

Overall, we took a First, Second, and Third for the weekend- 3 out of the possible 12 placements went to my little pups!  I guess they'll make bird dogs. 

Off to Idaho on Sunday.  More updates later.