Thursday, October 8, 2009

I'll leave it to Mike to post more stories of our trip together with Clair, but thought others would enjoy pictures from my en-route hunt in Colorado. I had a day to wander while traveling to Nebraska and Joe Augustine very kindly suggested an area for ptarmigan (thanks Joe!) Hunting those birds is quite an adventure since their range starts at 12,000 feet or so and goes up from there. But the fall view of the tundra, with snowy peaks in the background, was quite lovely.

The tundra was very damp, spongy underfoot, and there were small lakes everywhere.

I started out hunting on the edges of the meadows, gaining altitude, and eventually moved my way onto the steeper slopes. At just under 13,000 feet we found some birds. My pups handled them reasonably well and I found myself with a 3-bird limit pretty quickly.

The colors in this picture are just wonderful - I hope they show well on the posted image. The white birds contrast beautifully with the yellow and orange tundra plants.

A close-up. These birds were about half-way fitted for their all-white winter coat.

There was a small peak nearby, perhaps 13,800', and I started to climb it just for the view. However, Rosie seemed to be hit by altitude sickness - she got glassy-eyed and listless - so we headed back to thicker air. I gave her half a Tiger's Milk bar and some water, and by the time we got under 12,000' she was fine.

I grilled one of the ptarmigan a few days later and can testify that they are delicious.

Take care all, Pete.


Andrew Campbell said...

You must spend a good amount of time at altitude! I'd have blacked out before even getting close. Glad Rosie recovered okay!

And those are lovely birds, indeed.


Shawn K. Wayment, DVM said...


I love to chase those birds too on the Colorado tundra! You're lucky to have found them! They migrate from peak to today and gone tomorrow! Or at least that's been my luck the past decade!

Thanks for sharing!


mdmnm said...

Beautiful photos and birds!

Kudos for grinding up there and finding them. One of these days, I hope to do the same.

danontherock said...

Ptarmigan are my birds. Willows though not Whitetails. We have Willow and Rock Ptarmigan here

I enjoy your blog