Second to last day for ptarmigan
Hard work, fresh air, beautiful day, only 1 ptarmigan....But all worth it.
It was tough going today...snow conditions were mixed. Dogs could go well enough at times, yet other times it was super tough. Pie, my Britt figured out that some times if she walked slowly she could stay up on top.
We had a few points, one was a split find by both dogs from two angles (Pretty cool) but the stinkin birds were running like crazy and the old guy on snowshoes couldn't keep up. We finally got one bird to hold long enough for a shot.
Tomorrow looks like the end of this season for me here (unless I get "sick" and have to take a day off next week)...hope we do as well again.
Ember did a pretty good job since it is the first time I hunted them both together since our very first outing when she was nervous about the gun. i had been hunting her separate up till today and she had done well so I thought what the heck. The picture is her on point. Birds have run well out of range but she kept her focus.
Last edited by Burke; 03-27-2010 at 18:38.
One of each dog on point....while birds run like the wind!
Real nice stuff, Burke! Gorgeous dogs in gorgeous country. I wish I were there with you, camera in hand.
You know, there are a lot of folks out there who will read your words and wonder how a fellow could spend an entire day busting his butt in deep snow on god-awful snowshoes, only put one bird in the bag, and still be so happy and content. Poor souls just don't understand the important things in life!
You're my kind of hunter! Thanks for sharing.
Any day up there is good, and any day you don't get skunked is Awesome! Great pictures. Only another 136 days or so until the season opens back up...I'll be holding my breathe in anticipation.
Thanks Jim and a question
I am sure you have had similar days and I have had days of just as much work for zero birds but loved every minute of it.
I have a question that maybe you can answer....The groups of ptarmigan I have been finding lately are rather small, anywhere from pairs to half a dozen. Nothing like the mid winter flocks of twenty plus. I know, or a least think I know the fall groups were family groups that eventually join together to make the big winter flocks.
Are the ptarmigan starting to split up this early? Or is it a factor of hunting and / or predation combined with winter kill?
I've seen the same thing, one flock a couple of weeks ago of a half dozen or so, but everything else has been pairs or singles. Looking forward to Jim's expertise.
I'm not sure, but I would guess what you are seeing is small groups of males. Soon they will join up with other males and head for the big tundra frat party where there will be lots of strutting about and displaying of finery, partaking of wild fermented berries, and lots of sex... or at least lots of attempts at sex! I'm seeing the same thing here when I do see birds. We have very little snow left and these birds aren't good with that. A ptarmigan, despite its tiny pecan sized brain, is well aware of its sudden lack of camouflage and won't take kindly to being all white in a dark world.
I'll always be a ruffed grouse hunter first and foremost, and then I guess sharptails come in second, but I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't also hunt ptarmigan, the upland epitome of true wilderness. I love them, and I love the country they inhabit.
P.S. Don't you guys forget the Ruffed Grouse Society banquet coming up in Anchorage on April 10!