Saturday, March 7, 2020

Pointing Chukar

Sammi pointing Chukar
Photo by Holly Higgins
Sammi had as a pup, out of the shoot, a ton of point; butterflies, grasshoppers, bumblebees, stalks of grass blowing in the wind; you name it, she'd point it, and with intensity! Initially her pointing, it seemed, was focused on moving objects that caught her eye; something would move, she'd point, and then pounce and chase.... When Sammi was about 6-months old I started running her in the bird field, into electronic launchers loaded with pigeons; she had a great nose and pointed with intensity. From the start, I could get in front of her and launch birds before she would chase. After letting her chase a few times, it didn't take much effort to keep her from chasing more than a few feet. Walking up to flush for her, I could see her drinking up the scent; high tail and head, mouth opening and closing, eyes staring into the distance, body motionless. I remember thinking to myself every time I ran her in a training situation, "this is a bird dog." Toward the end of this bird season I was fortunate to get her into Chukar country and get her into some birds. Unfortunately, on both occasions I had her down, her littermate Ella was down with her, and before I could get to Sammi to kill a bird for her, Ella came in and ripped them...

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

On Point!

Photo by Holly Higgins
In this photo, Meg and Wheels are backing Gertie, which is just over the ridge, too the front, and out of the picture. This was the last hunt of the season and all three girls were put down together for the final-final. Wheels and Gertie had backed each other on previous hunts, but Meg had only seen the backing silhouette to that point. And the birds were there!

News From Chukar Country

After the Thanksgiving snows, and successive subsequent storms provided much needed moisture to the eastside, birds began to disburse and the hunting improved. Chukar could still be found in the clouds if you chose to go that high, but much of the front country was littered with birds as well; birds that were now finding fresh feed from the green-up which occurred across the landscape post precip. Both dogs and hunters were rewarded with birdwork, not just exercise....
By the end of the season birds had begun to pair up, so pairs and singles were let fly anticipating the clutches that might be produced this spring by these early cohabitors.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Thanksgiving Pheasant Hunt

Photo by Holly Higgins
We hunted pheasant Thanksgiving day hoping to harvest a rooster for the table that evening, but at the end of the day were glad we had thrown a chicken in the cart (just in case) while shopping the previous evening. That morning there was a skiff of snow on the ground and tracks were noticeable everywhere in the cover; criss-crossing through the sage and native grasses, down fencelines, in and out of the willows. There was a chill in the air all day and the frost never left the cover except when one of us, or a dog, brushed it off while hunting through it. When the wind came up you felt it anywhere there was bare skin or wet clothing. The dogs were the heroes of the day, hunting hard in the cold and wet persistently. We managed to put a few birds in the air but pinning a bird down was tough....

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Green-up Is Coming

Photo by Sutter Rogers

In late September, early October, Fall seemed to be coming-on like a lion; a fair amount of rain, a skiff of snow, and some chilly mornings had us believing it was "on" for chukar season. But for the last month, since a week-or-so before the season opened, "dry and dusty" best describe what conditions have been like. It has been warm and dry, almost too warm to get the dogs out for more than a few hours in the morning. And birdwork has been at a premium, at least in southern and eastern Oregon.
It's now Thanksgiving and things seemed to have changed. As much as a foot of snow has hit the eastside! The snow should get them moving, but after this cold spell when temperatures reach the high thirties and we get a little sunshine some green-up should occur in the cheat grass and the chukar should begin to disperse as feed becomes more readily available. Something to be thankful for?

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

High Country CRP

Photo by Holly Higgins
This block of CRP was mostly brome (what the horse is standing in) but had a nice strip of vetch running through it. The vetch provided a nice edge, and heavier and taller cover for the birds. To the north you can see grainfields which are dry-land farmed for wheat and barley, and to the west out of the picture are cattle allotments where native sagebrush and bunch grass cover the landscape. All forms of cover held birds; the CRP seemed to hold birds of a younger age class, while birds found on ground heavier to native sage seemed to be older larger birds. The CRP which we trained in was loaded with grasshoppers of all shapes and sizes - great for young birds. Even on mornings like this, when the cover was moist from a bit of rain the night before, the bugs were out. Here I'm off the horse and trying to get a bird in the air for Indian Head Whiski - "Jim".

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

More Summer Training

Photo by Holly Higgins
Click on the photo. If you look hard you can see the Sharpie on the horizon, about equidistant that I am from the dog (which is almost directly in the middle of the photo), going the opposite direction. This is one of those occasions where a majority of the covey had left, the dog chased a little at the flush, I made a correction, and getting off my horse to flush for the dog another bird flew. Couldn't ask for a better training scenario with a young dog......