Last weekend was my annual pilgrimage to Northern Nevada for the opening of chukar season. We fuzzily figured out that this was either the 17th or 18th year of the core group getting together for opening day. The tradition of us old friends getting together for chukar hunting started over 20 years ago, but there was an interruption of the streak.
This year it was the core group (JD, John, Brian and me) as well as a newcomer, Craig. Though Craig was new to our opening day hunt, he was with us back in Lincoln Hall at UNR. It was great seeing he and JD get to catch up with one another after 30 years!
The Nevada Department of Wildlife had seen a 40% increase in birds during their annual survey flights which had us a bit excited. However, this was a 40% increase from the dismal 2013 season – the 2014 numbers were still quite a bit below the 10 year average. Still, it had to be better than last year, right?
I arrived at camp mid afternoon to find a trailer and a pickup in our camping spot, but no people. After setting up camp and having a beer, JD and Brian drove up in JD’s new hunting rig – a Touareg. There is a story here – you see, JD used to have a Touareg a few years back, and he took that brand spanking new rig out chukar hunting and it got just a bit dirty. He ended up selling it after a couple of years and has since been hunting with an older Dodge Cummins. While coming out to scout the area a few weeks earlier, the Dodge blew a front tire, flipped and that was the end of it. Without a hunting rig, JD went back to his old favorite – the VW Touareg. Though this one wasn't new like his other one, it is still nice driving to the hunting spot in both style and comfort.
Once John and Craig showed up a bit later, we concocted plans for dinner and cracked some beers. After the meal, we sat around the fire discussing the next morning’s hunting plans without coming to a decision. Since we are all getting along in age, there wasn’t much partying going on that night and we hit the sleeping bags relatively early.
The next morning was gorgeous as JD cooked the usual awesome breakfast for us. Around breakfast we came up with the day’s plan - John and Craig would head over to a drainage where we had always gotten into birds in the past, while the rest of us would head father out to another known hot spot.
JD’s earlier scouting had turned up birds, but not many in the spots we were headed to. We didn't feel like driving the 2 hours to the hot spots he’d found earlier and figured we just hit other known hot spots.
|JD and the Touareg|
It ended up being a good day, with a total of 19 birds between the five of us and with JD getting his limit of 6. That night we cleaned and de-boned all the birds and I cooked up some Green Chile Chukar that was enjoyed by everyone. After some brownies for dessert, a few more beers and a large bottle of Women in Boots wine, we were off to bed early again.
|JD and Craig catching up|
Sunday was another beautiful day and again the two different groups went their separate ways. The Touareg group headed back to the same areas we hunted the day before, and again got into birds. John and Craig also got into some birds. The total for Sunday wasn't quite as good - only 8 birds.
|JD cooking breakfast while John enjoys his coffee|
Sunday’s dinner was beef themed – T-Bones and Ribeyes. To round out the meal, we enjoyed potatoes, green beans and John Wood’s famous “Mix up every type of canned bean we have and add to it” beans and another bottle of Women in Boots wine.
It seems like the chukar are definitely on the upswing in our little portion of Northern Nevada and I can’t wait to see what next year brings. We went from about 6 birds total in 2013 to 27 this year - much better than a 40% increase!
It was again a blast seeing the old chukar hunting gang again!