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Thread: A few birdless hunting pictures & Lil' Joes progress

  1. #1
    Member Burke's Avatar
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    Default A few birdless hunting pictures & Lil' Joes progress

    We have been finding it hard to locate birds again this year. This is the least productive year for ptarmigan since I moved to Alaska 8 1/2 years ago. It is unfortunate for Lil' Joe since he really needs wild bird contacts. He was pointing and fetching Huns and pheasants in Montana before joining me here. Now a days he bumps and chases more than he holds point over. He is pointing, but it doesn't last long enough for me to get in for the flush. Although I was close enough on Monday to verbally whoa him as he made his way in on a a small group of four birds. He held till I shot on that one, but refused to retrieve.

    However, I am not discouraged, because this is typical behavior for an adolescent male dog. Kind of like the terrible twos in human children (or so they say). He is starting to take few more liberties in the field and test the limits. Joe will become a good bird dog with more time. He needs yard work and more wild birds. Plus, we have only been working together for two months.

    Despite the low numbers of birds and Lil' Joes escapades, we are having fun in the hills. Here are a few pics of the pointless trio...pun intended :-)
    Not really totally pointless...




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    Good looking dogs! A lot of my usual spots for this time of year aren't producing many birds either. I think the main problem is the lack of snow to concentrate the birds.

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    Nice bunch! Glad you four are getting out there. Tough year for ptarmigan around the Interior as well. Got to find out why? I'm on the case!

    Jim

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    Another thing about ptarmigan we tend to overlook is how they are not at all immune from cyclic behavior. Ptarmigan go through their ups and downs like other grouse. We just don't study them as closely as other game birds and they retain a number of mysteries about them. And then there is the matter of ptarmigan coming and going from one area to another as they please. And if we were ptarmigan and were experiencing an unusual number of predators in a specific area we might just pick up and fly off to another place for the winter.

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    Member Hoyt's Avatar
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    Very nice Burke! I hope to be able to get together and hunt with you and crew some day. I've been out with my crew, and agree with Jim on bird numbers at this point. Jim you figure it out yet? Just text me the answer hahaha.
    "If I could shoot a game bird and still not hurt it, the way I can take a trout on a fly and release it, I doubt if I would kill another one." George Bird Evans

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    Burke, what a great crew.

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    Well, spent today up in the high country with friend AlaskanWoodsman. Mostly we are trying to get his young dog on some birds to learn her job. There is a dearth of snow up in the high treeless areas, not exactly what ptarmigan find attractive. Easy on human and K-9 hunters, but I find little reason for ptarmigan to have left other areas to the north to migrate to my usual hunting areas. Wild guess is that the birds are staying elsewhere because conditions are so good for them (plenty of food and security cover) and there is no need to migrate. But I'm not yet sure? We know so little about these birds. My dream is to develop a cadre of Cooperators all across the state who will simply report the number or birds about, and whether there are any significant changes to what is considered normal. I recall one year, many years ago, when most of the ptarmigan seemed to have migrated further north and showed up in unusually large numbers up around Kotzebue. We found maybe 20 or so rock ptarmigan today is all. Saw over 100 caribou though.

    Jim

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    Member Burke's Avatar
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    Jim, have been in touch with Rick Merizon, the biologist who has started studying upland birds?

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    I talk with Rick often. And I've been bringing up this idea to all his predecessors over the decades. Be nice to find some money to collar some ptarmigan as well. We'll see. I often think how maybe I should just do the cooperator deal on my own. I just might.

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    It's too bad Nick Steen and Bill Taylor's momentum couldn't have stuck about a decade ago. The new position is a positive but I think it's going to have to be a citizen science/volunteer working group type effort to carry the torch (or get it lit depending on your perspective). I'm all for it but I know I can't give it a great effort at this point in my life with family and career as they are. Jim, I wish you the best of luck as you'll probably be tasked with the lion's share if you pursue this. Of course, I could think of worse things to be considered than a lion.

    Prairie Guy
    Go Big Red!

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    Hey, I (actually ADF&G) need $12,000. Anybody got such money laying around? I want to get started on a ptarmigan collaring program in the White Mountains. Some of you multi-millionaires need to cough up this cash. Ideas?

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    Member Hoyt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim McCann View Post
    Hey, I (actually ADF&G) need $12,000. Anybody got such money laying around? I want to get started on a ptarmigan collaring program in the White Mountains. Some of you multi-millionaires need to cough up this cash. Ideas?
    The University on the hill?
    "If I could shoot a game bird and still not hurt it, the way I can take a trout on a fly and release it, I doubt if I would kill another one." George Bird Evans

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoyt View Post
    The University on the hill?
    I was just thinking that Mr. McCann might make a good advisor for my PhD project. Rusty might have to learn some new tricks if we're getting into the bird-collaring business! I say Rusty only because I know my dear Katydid will never get the hang of turning a bird loose alive.
    Passing up shots on mergansers since 1992.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim McCann View Post
    Hey, I (actually ADF&G) need $12,000. Anybody got such money laying around? I want to get started on a ptarmigan collaring program in the White Mountains. Some of you multi-millionaires need to cough up this cash. Ideas?
    When I harvested a banded goldeneye last fall, I talked with a FWS bio in Anchorage who is into birds. He might know where to find money/help/ideas for ptarmigan as well as ducks. Maybe I'll send him an email.
    Passing up shots on mergansers since 1992.


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    SkinnyD,

    You go, Dr D! I'll give a few days to file your full report of when the money will arrive.

    Ryan,

    Okay, I show you assigned to getting $12,000 from UAF. That won't be easy 'cause they don't give out money. Mostly they just take it in. But I know you can do it! I'll give you 2 weeks to tell me when the money will arrive. If we get $24,000 we'll put collars on ptarmigan from the Steese and Murphy Dome!

    Jim

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    Member Burke's Avatar
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    Well i hope rick's study will teach us some things and I might be overly optimistic but, maybe Rick's current collaring program will grow.

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    Burke,

    I'm with you on this. I'm very excited about the work he'll be doing this spring on the Denali. I've been a student of this stuff for a long time and read tons of material done by some hard working, highly motivated biologists of the past decades, and I'll bet they're rolling in their graves wanting to get out and work on this program. None of them had such modern tracking techniques available to them. But keep in mind how with some RGS money this was done on sharptails many years back up here in the Interior and those birds died very quickly thanks to a plethora of raptors in the area. I wish the ptarmigan long lives (at least 16 months, the length of the batteries in the transmitters!) and good luck so they can answer a bunch of questions.

    Jim

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