After a grueling/ wet 5 mile trek to get into the area whereI decided to hunt Saturday, me and Rigby hunted all through the valley in the rain. Mostly high, up where the rock was coming up out of the tundra. In short, we walked a lot and we should have worked the terrain lower where most of the willow was. Live and learn I guess.
I had stashed my pack low, along the over grown trail I used to get into the area and we were heading back to where it was taking a long looping route that took us into the lower portion of the valley, following the contour of the mountain. Suddenly Rigby locks up on point. Suddenly, I’m not so tired anymore and moved quickly to a position about 15 yards to Rigby’s right who was facing downhill. There were alot of berries mixed with some tall grass and further down the hill was a clump of willow, about 40 yards down the hill. I moved out in front of Rigby about 10 yards in an arc hoping to flush whatever was there and looped back to Rigby’s right front about 20 yards out and stopped. I looked at Rigby and he glanced right at me with a look that I swear said, “Dude, I’m telling you there is a bird in here!”
With an “Ok” I released him and he immediately moved forward at a low grouch another 5 yards past me straight down the hill and froze again, and again, I repeated the drill and didn’t flush a thing. I figured Rigby was on to something and who am I to doubt his nose so I released him again with an OK and he moved forward again, and the same way he locked-up just a few yards shy of the willow clump.
I thought OK, they have to be in there. On the other side of the clump of willow, the ground drops down at a steep angle for about 15 feet and then slopes all theway down to the creek and then the mountain shoots up from there on the otherside of the creek.
I moved forward ready to shoulder the gun and fire. Rigby was like a statue as I moved forward and stopped just to his right. As soon as I stopped 2 groups of ptarmigan launched from the base of the willow, one to the right and then a couple others to the left! I shouldered the shotgun on the birds to the right aiming at the bird in the middle of the group and fired. Instantly saw feathers and fired at a second bird in the same group.
The group to the right split up fanning out and then, glided to the other side of the creek. I glanced to the left and saw a flash of brown and white flare and drop below a fold in the hillside about 40 yards away. I reloaded and moved forward to retrieve the down bird and to my surprise, there were 2 within a few feet of each other. 2 with one shot or, was it a lucky second shot, who knows?
Rigby was already hustling over to the left; he must have seen the bird fly off to the left and was looking for it. I moved over to where Rigby was and we searched for about 20 minutes when Rigby came to a screeching halt. As soon as he did the bird took off in a direction that allowed no shot.
By this time I was pretty smoked and the weather was getting a bit worse so I decided to call it quits. 3 and a half hours later we finally stumbled out of the woods to where the truck was parked soaked to the bone. What a great day, our first ptarmigan together!