Yesterday was a picture perfect day to visit one of Colorado’s many walk-in hunting areas. Colorado does a nice job trying to provide hunting opportunities and has enrolled about 215,000 acres in this program that allows hunters to access private land at no cost. In addition to free hunting we had perfect weather – highs in the mid-40’s, partly cloudy with a slight breeze.
Here are the rest of the pictures from our hunt at The Bluffs. Be sure to check out “Part 1” as well.
The small Shorthair is a 6 month old bitch named Roux (pronounced [roo]). This is one of the puppies from the earlier post “Cajun-German Shorthaired Pointer Pups Available” where you can see her as a newborn pup. This was her first time hunting and she was astoundingly good!
About an hour east of Denver, The Bluffs is one of the Colorado’s premier hunting preserves. Birds are not ordered and planted for hunts but instead the club manages and augments sustainable populations of game birds such as Pheasants, Quail, Chukar and Hungarian Partridge. The limited membership hunt on 4,000 acres for birds that seem for the most part pretty wild. I think this is as close as you can get to a wild bird hunt without going on a wild bird hunt. We recently spent a full day hunting The Bluffs and here are the pictures. To keep this from being too big I have split this into two posts so be sure to check out “Part 2“.
This was to be a post on a Sage Grouse and Ptarmigan hunt but we did not see a bird. What is that recipe to remove the stench of skunk?
Here in Colorado the drought is in full bloom and heat records seem to be set daily. It has been a tough summer for the birds. Dove hunting in Colorado is rarely spectacular but this year our one day dove hunt was notably slow. My guess is that there were about half the birds as compared to the year before. No one took a limit but of course the hunters the day before were limited out and done by 9:30am, we were told. Maybe so as that was opening day.
Even though the hunting was poor, we had a great time. The birds arrived in ones and twos all morning, the weather was perfect and this was Tex’s first hunt. Tex had two Labs and another GSP to hunt and play with. There is no doubt that he had a terrific time and was exhausted at the end of the morning.
The two day Colorado Sage Grouse season is almost upon us. Last year we were skunked but with the 2012 drought in full swing and the dwindling bird numbers, I am sure we will all limit by brunch. We are OK with the poor odds, it is great to get the dogs out and hunt after a long hot summer. Not to mention that we have a new puppy to break in! Here are some of the better pictures from past seasons.
Sage, and lots of it. We love the desolate, lonely places of the bird hunt.
After a skunk on Sage Grouse in North Park we headed for the high country to see if we could redeem ourselves on Ptarmigan. I had never hunted them before and wasn’t sure what to expect.
The country where these birds live is magnificent and ruggedly beautiful. Well above the tree line, the vistas and views are breathtaking. Had we not seen any birds, the hike alone would have been worth the effort.
This is a different kind of hunt. Most upland game birds stay well concealed in the bush and when you get close (and sometimes when you aren’t close at all) they flush providing an opportunity to exercise your finely tuned wing shooting skills. Not these guys. They sit out in the open and watch you approach with only casual interest. You can look at the covey and count them, pick out the one you want, take a picture and then push into them to get them to fly. Some will take off, which is fun, but others will just run a bit and then sit and watch.
Ptarmigan are beautiful and delicate creatures. They are much smaller than I expected. Their bodies are about the size of a large dove but their thick coat of down and feathers make them look larger. In hand they are incredibly soft and feel almost mushy. I don’t think they put out much scent or at least scent that dogs associate with game birds. Bird dog Rio never really lock up on them and the points we did get were sight points, I think. We had 10 or so right in front of us and she paid them little mind, she was off looking for something else. Possibly the altitude has something to do with that or maybe I had a defective dog.
We had a good time hiking at the top of the world but the hunting was not as challenging as hoped. Possibly if we hadn’t found birds in the first 30 minutes and had hiked all day I would have a different story. The biggest challenge on this hunt was to not scar an expensive shotgun as we negotiated some very rough terrain while operating on 25% less oxygen. We lucked out with perfect weather (a week later all this was under a foot of snow) and it was certainly great to be out there. Ptarmigan have been added to the annual hunt calendar.
These birds are perfectly camouflaged for their world. If they didn’t move it would be easy to miss them.
This year it was a perfectly comfortable morning for the opening of dove season in northern Colorado. The day heated up fast but remained pleasant and bug-free if you stayed in the shade. We topped out in the mid-90s, which is hot for us but pretty nice compared to our sweaty friends in states south of us who hunted in 100+ degrees. Hope they kept their dogs watered.
In Colorado there is a reliable and unfortunate pattern to the dove migration around opening day. We see dove everywhere all summer long – perched on wires, cooing on roof tops, swooping from tree to tree and pooping on my truck – but sometime a week or so before 9/1 they disappear. This is usually attributed to a late August cold snap but this year it was hot up to the 1st and yet their pattern of disappearance still held true. I had not seen a dove for a week when we headed out on Thursday morning. We hunted with the nice folks at Longmeadow. They have about 4,000 acres and have built a really nice event center about an hour and a half northeast of Denver.
Though the number of birds were greatly diminished from a week or two ago, there were still plenty around for us to get our limit, which we did before lunch. It was not what you would call solid white hot action but there were times when we had more birds coming in than we could handle. It was a great start to the bird hunting season.
My hunting buddy enjoying a morning of truancy.
A pair of Sage Grouse hens and a Spanish sidelock in the North Park of Colorado.
While freezing in a Colorado pit blind, waiting for waves of geese to show up, the sun peeks over the horizon behind us and illuminates these ice-covered trees.
Click to launch.