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Thread: "Ptarmigan in Spring"

  1. #1
    Member Armymark's Avatar
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    Default "Ptarmigan in Spring"

    Well I'm not sure if you all have seen the March/April edition of Shooting Sportsman yet but, I got mine in the mail yesterday and, low and behold! There is an article in there about hunting Ptarmigan in Alaska! By none other than our Jim McCann, once again accurately describing the 'rewards for enduring the winter"! Good job Jim, you make us hard core Alaskan uplanders proud! Nice pics too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Armymark View Post
    Well I'm not sure if you all have seen the March/April edition of Shooting Sportsman yet but, I got mine in the mail yesterday and, low and behold! There is an article in there about hunting Ptarmigan in Alaska! By none other than our Jim McCann, once again accurately describing the 'rewards for enduring the winter"! Good job Jim, you make us hard core Alaskan uplanders proud! Nice pics too.

    That WAS a good article, Army. Nice to see something in that mag about Alaska from a local author. I liked it too!

    Sadly, no one is able to make any more "high country" and the habitat up there is what it is and has been for many, many years.

    Its not like we can cut aspen to renew a habitat for ruffed grouse, or plant corn to attract pheasants ~ to improve habitat for rock ptarmigan. I'm not aware of any way to create more rock ptarmigan habitat or improve it.

    Those high country birds are there, this time of year, because they are beginning to stake territories for breeding. Those locations that have rock ptarmigan in my mind are special gems that I hunt lightly - especially this time of year ~ with a care about the birds in the area and the others I know that hunt those birds too. I'm an old school Lake States bird hunter ~ hunting mostly by myself with my dog and occasionally a friend, one at a time.

    I NEVER tell anyone where I hunt my birds except those I can trust not to blab it to their friends, trying to be the big-man. Conversely, I NEVER tell others where my friend hunts. It's an old school game I suppose but it's true conservation too.

    I limit myself in the numbers I take depending upon how many I see and methods because there seems to be so few birds and I know that the available rocks seem to be ~ less available.

    Economically, if I had to shoot every bird I saw I'd be dollars ahead puttin' the sneak on those Cornish game hens at the super market. At this time in my life it's not about killing as many as I can. I don't live in the bush anymore. For me it's about being in the high country with my dog, hunting at my own pace, hunting sometimes with my friend.

    I haven't seen a willow ptarmigan except in the closed area along the Richardson this year. And after I saw those birds, I heard that local people were hunting in the federal subsistence area there ~ even though ADF&G has chosen to shorten the season and limit the bag limit so ptarmigan population can recover and increase for all of us.

    Pretty infuriating that the feds can't get their story straight or support a system that would ultimately make more game available for all in the future.

    I'm glad the ADF&G Small Game program is undertaking two studies on ptarmigan to determine their movements and seasonal habitat preferences. With that information maybe they can look into how far and where this flocking bird roams. Ptarmigan aren't home-bodies like ruffs and sprucies.

    It seems fairly quiet up here this year. I wonder how the Thompson Pass folk are doing?

    Great to hear from another bird hunter! Keep the faith!! And don't forget to hide your truck!!
    That country was so hungry even the ravens were packin' a lunch.... HUNGRY I tell ya'!!

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    Armymark,

    Thanks for the kind words. Glad you enjoyed the article. Just spent two more days up high pursuing ptarmigan with two of my dogs. Life is good.

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    Member Armymark's Avatar
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    Jim, good on ya. I had a great season with Rigby and am working with the rescue English Setter I have in the crew now. Our season in the south is over but, my job is taking me north at least once a month and I'm bringing the hounds with me on each trip if possible. So we are extending our range, and season! The recon never stops. Perhaps well bump into each other one of these days. I think I speak for all of us hard cores, we feel a special pride hunting upland in Alaska and you capture our sentiments. See you on the tundra!

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    Thank you, sir! I'll look forward to that. Thanks for your service to our country.

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    How is the little ANGEL dog doing??????
    Good to see that you still have her.
    The previous owner asked if I heard or seen anything of her.
    Thanks

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    Member Armymark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 28 GA View Post
    How is the little ANGEL dog doing??????
    Good to see that you still have her.
    The previous owner asked if I heard or seen anything of her.
    Thanks
    Angel is fitting in well. We have spent the first couple months earning her trust. I haven't done too much training due to this and focused on whoa, coming to the whistle and controlling how far she goes. When you said she was "rangey", you weren't kidding. For the longest time she was either running as fast as she could away or back to me. She learned to come to the whistle in 2 days with Rigby showing her what it meant! Once she had that down we started working on her range and checking in which is still a work in progress. She isn't gun shy so once I had confidence that she wouldn't run off we started hunting. She still hasn't figured out what we are doing. I haven't seen her point from acquiring scent. She will for birds she sees. I'm not sure she has a very good nose, I've seen her plow into several ptarmigan without even a pause. I have also seen her work the base of a tree the that flushed a spruce grouse. So I'm undecided. When Rigby would lock on point, she would be birdie but not freeze. So I have her whoa when Rigby locks up which has taken a lot of patience. It is kind of funny because she is starting to back Rigby's point with a self imposed whoa but she is not pointing. She is still skittish though. Teaching her whoa has been a challenge because she is very soft, and cowers with even the most gentle correction. Just picking her up and moving her back to the point the whoa command was given she sits and cowers with her tail between her legs. Having said all of that, she has a huge heart and she is loving life. We are off lead for a couple hours everyday at least and we are working through her acting like she needs to get away with as much as possible before it ends. I'll really be able to work on her with birds this summer. I do still have her and regardless of anything, she is part of our family and is really happy.

    Her is a pic with a bird Rigby pointed and she "whoaed" at his point. She posed with this bird after a mild whoa command.


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    Member Anythingalaska's Avatar
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    Sweet pack man! I have a Eberlestock similar to yours, I love it, it's a great pack. Willow Ptarmigan inhabit our island down here in SE, but I've only seen a couple in my life.

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