To group, I hunt mostly chukars and huns in the Snake river area, Brownlee, Oxbow and Hells canyon. Also I hunt in the Crane Creek area. October and November were good months for me. Then the snow came and cold weather was upon us. In a matter of days we had 18 inches of snow and crust on the top. The griffons just couldn't go. I hunted early December and then quit. The first week of the new year found me in Oxbow to see how the birds were doing. I slogged out in deep snow and killed one bird. The bird was about the weight of a quail. I quit then with the idea of letting the birds that were left to possibly make it through the winter. I wonder how other hunters did in this area that divide Idaho and Oregon.
I did enjoy Wyochukar photos of his late hunt. We did not have any open ground at all. Larry
Joined: 14 Oct 2011
Location: Southern Oregon
I hunted the Oregon side of Hells Canyon area in the middle of November. First time out in the canyon, I hunted with a guide who had lots of good experience in the area. Hunted high and low, flushed a couple of birds wild and did not get a shot. I speculate that the hunting pressure had the birds grouped up in larger coveys in inaccessible places. Beautiful country and a memorable experience, but nothing to show for it.
We have open ground now! High temps. (60+) and high winds opened up a tremendous amount of ground. It also flash flooded the area. I live on the high side of town and my cousin parked his trucks up here, even the one on 40" tires-that's how bad it got. Hit us twice: 6 am and 1 pm. The good news is that the birds have access to grub without having to work for it in the areas where the situation looked grim.
That bird the weight of a quail brings up a point many people fail to think about. When birds are having that rough a time due to heavy snow crust it is actually very important to harvest a fairly high percentage of them due unavailability of food. It is better to have a covey of six with full crops than a covey of 20 that all starve slowly.
Another problem is overcrowding in areas with food. Last year one of my favorite remote areas had a serious lack of cheatgrass and birds congregated in the few spots with grass. We called one spot "hill of a hundred" come January. We didn't realize how much of the feed the chukars had consumed until a few weeks later when we could only find a dozen or so birds within a mile in any direction. We should have paid closer attention to the crops and taken advantage of a few more hunts rather than just let the birds die of hunger. The same happens when so little exposed ground is available during a harsh winter.
Chukars are tough little buggers, but they still gotta eat. It is easy to feel sorry for them and leave them be but our kind intentions are not always the wise move. I had to remind myself of that a couple times this winter.
_________________ Only catch snowflakes on your tongue AFTER the birds fly south for the winter...
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