Saturday, September 27, 2008

One to Remember

Camping, four wheelers, shooting guns, chasing birds, fishing, put them together and you get quite the memorable experience for a 6 year old. At least that's what he tells me. "Dad, can we go to the Parker Mountains again?" It started a year ago with the annual July brood count surveys. I decided to take The G-Man along to help count birds. A night of camping, a few hours walking in sage brush, shooting guns, and small creek dry fly fishing was all it took. He was hooked. We returned a few months later to hunt, but the weather got the best of us and made for a short outing. This year Big A's birthday conflicted with the brood count survey, so the anticipation for the September hunt was long overdue. We loaded up the "Birddog Rig" and headed southeast to the Parkers to meet up with Steve and his 5 year old daughter M, coming from Colorado. We arrived about an hour or so before sunset. Just enough time to hop on a wheeler and take a ride around the hills for a quick scouting trip. The G-Man just got eyeglasses, and apparently they work. He spotted a few grouse walking into a water hole. I guess the few hundred dollars for doctor appointements paid off. We watched as another covey flew in at dusk. It was getting dark so we headed back to camp, ate some spaghetti and made preparations for an early morning departure. Early morning came quick. We decided we'd work the draws and basin in proximity to the water hole. It was a chilly ride out to the hunting grounds. We parked the wheelers and started towards a hill next to the water hole anticipating the arrival of sage grouse. The kids spotted the first covey before we heard the noticeable whistling of wings overhead. We stood quitely as the next group arrrived within a minute of the first. We watched the birds get a morning drink as part of their daily ritual. They flew away a few at a time with a large male making the final exit. The hunt was now on. We headed up and over a hill arriving to the first point. Nifty had a few pinned, but we didn't get there in time. I ought to mention we decided to hunt with the 28's so we were somewhat picky on shot selection. Within seconds another point. The birds lifted up quickly, I decided to try out the double triggers and make some noise to wake up the little ones. No birds down. We proceeded down the hill with a close eye on Dixie. She was acting birdy and quickly came to a stop. Nifty to the right of her on point as well. I moved in front of Dixie. A single bird came up about 10 yards ahead flying left to right. I threw up the little gun, pulled the front trigger and knocked down my first bird with the 28. The gallery applauded with approval. This was the highlight of the day. Not necessarily getting the bird, but seeing and hearing the excitement of The G-Man and M. We proceeded with point after point for the next hour, mostly with birds getting up a bit too far. There were a few more decent shots, but no connections. We'll blame the rising sun for those misses. We put in about 2 miles and headed back to camp. We figured it'd be best not to burn out the kids. A nice lunch, nap, and shooting rifles took up most of the afternoon. We took a four wheeler ride, had a short evening hunt, cleaned up camp and headed home. The kids were a bit disappointed that they had to leave, but that's how you want it I guess. Quit while they're having fun so they leave wanting more.

With continual talk about Federal Listing the Sage Grouse under the ESA, who knows how long the Sage grouse hunting tradition will continue? As we stood near that water hole I explained to Glavin how rare the opportunity was. Not many people have the experience of watching coveys of Sage Grouse flying across the open sky in the west. The 2008 Parker Mountain Sage Grouse hunt will always be one to remember.

1 comment:

Mntmaniac said...


Thanks for the shout out...I've seen your site but not this blog till now. I'd like to link it to my page...Gotta luv those Setters!