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Thread: Fall Ptarmigan Question

  1. #1

    Default Fall Ptarmigan Question

    Okay, well last winter i was checking my marten line up in the hills and on my way back down i heard them clucking and i ended up in the middle of a flock with 15-20 birds, i ended up getting 3. So i was planning on going out on the season opener and that is August 10th..and my question is..Are the birds white then or brown? or a mix...and i would have to go higher up to get too them correct? dont care if i get anything but i got a new pup chocolate lab and wanna get her out there...but any info would be appreciated, thanks!

  2. #2
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    'trapper,

    Okay young man, it seems you have some homework to do! You can start by reading as much as you can about your intended quarry on-line at ADF&G. Check out the Wildlife Notebook series. Wouldn't hurt to pay a visit to your local ADF&G office either.

    But in a nutshell...ptarmigan are only completely white in winter. Your fall birds will be wearing a coat of chestnut and black feathers. You may,or may not find ptarmigan in fall where you found them in winter. Ptarmigan move around quite a bit, some migrating for up to 100 miles or so. You do not have to necessarily go higher up to find them in fall. You need to hunt where there are broods, family groups.

    Lots to talk about, but I think you need to hit the books first. There is much we know about ptarmigan, but still much to learn.

    Best of luck with the pup!

    Jim

  3. #3

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    Thanks jim,
    i gave ADF&G a call and they said they wont be completely white till theres a good blanket of snow on the ground. But im thankful for your info also..ill try season opener and just see how she goes. thanks.

  4. #4

    Default Me and my pup, Too!

    I seldom have time to read comments online, but am just as anxious to take my new pup as you are. Looking forward to finding some ptarmigan for Taiga (yellow Labrador) to flush and retrieve. For the past 40-plus years I have reserved August tenth for big game, but this year it will be birds for the pup.

    Good luck.

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    Ibtrapper,

    Well, I do believe that photo period is more appropriate to color change than snow...but regardless of their color, they are great fun to hunt. And ptarmigan are, of course, Alaska's bird! Continue your education, become a student of the birds and their habitat. Talk to everyone you come into contact with that might know where some resident ptarmigan are, gather intelligence from everyone you can, and then pay your dues with sweat and exertion. Where are you located?


    Tony,

    Good to see you posting here! You know, there is a great book on Upland Hunting in Alaska that might be of some help to you? Do you have any idea where to find one? :-) I knew you would eventually come over to the dark side. Let's go hunting!

    Jim

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    Ibtrapper,

    You see, sometimes nature is quite cruel to wildlife and critters turn white when the snow is absent from the land. It makes for very skittish ptarmigan 'cause they are quite aware of their camouflage, or lack of it! The weather patterns have been changing over at least the last decade and things have gotten better for us foot hunters with dogs, but not necessarily for the prey we hunt.



    Jim

  7. #7

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    Jim,
    thats a greawt pic and an even better looking dog! im located in the valley and i do know a lot of great spot for Grouse but from what i have experienced living in kodiak to the Grouse up here is that ptarmigan usually stand to be a bit more of a challenge...i plan on taking Lilly (my pup) out for a few grouse to see how she does. Another question i just thought of is that i do have an older male that is a great retriever with ducks and grouse, if i brought him along and she saw what to do..do you think she would catch on faster? thanks for the help

    Tony,
    Great too hear your excited to get out here too and get the dogs movin...i have a old black lab (remmy) that has been a duck is whole life..so im real excited too get out there also for ducks! Hope your opener goes great, and good luck too 'ya!

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    Ibtrapper,

    Ptarmigan are either very easy (as in close flushing) or very hard (as in 100 yd. flushes), but they are always fun for you and your dog(s). I'm a pointing dog guy and I am not a big fan of taking a pup along with older dogs to begin with, but I think you should consider trying it to see what sort of things your pup learns from the older dog.

    Living in the valley you certainly have Hatcher Pass to hunt without a real long drive, but you may want to consider a longer trip up to hunt the Denali Highway. It's going to be a great year for all these new pups. I sort of wish I were working with another new pup, but my knennel is full with four Brittanys right now.

    Jim

  9. #9

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    I hear there great dogs though..must keep your hands full. lol
    ill take them both just to see how it goes. thanks for all the info its helped alot, yes im very excited to see how she turns out.
    good luck with your dogs!

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    Member GD Yankee's Avatar
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    Thanks, Mr. McCann and Russ for your great books! I haven't gotten a chance to act on all your advice, but your books have prepared me once I do get a chance to hit the hills!

    Dave

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    Quite the collection of knowledge on this board and this thread is certainly an interesting convergence of well respected outdoorsmen! Unfortunately for me my pup is growing fast with very little field time thanks to our current geographical predicament. It looks like my Bro in law is going to spend some time with him out looking for doves (Alabama) so at least he will get some field time in even if it is just to have some fun and get excited about chasing birds. I am looking forward to chasing ruffies around next year and may venture up high for some Ptarmigan as well. It sure hope that the dog helps since I am awful tired of those birds laughing at me from deep in the willows!!

    Good luck to you all and I look forward to seeing pictures and reading stories online to get me through another hunting season away!!!

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    LuJon,

    Indeed, I (we) hope your dog has a blast while discovering the majic of birds!

    GD Yankee,

    Thank you for buying those books. Hope you did gain some useful information, knowledge that will make you a better and happier hunter. Where are you located?

    Jim

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    Member GD Yankee's Avatar
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    I'm down in Anchorage. Got a buddy coming up from the lower 48 who was stationed outside of Fairbanks in the 70s - I'm going to try to put him on some birds with a 1920s LC Smith and I'll be shooting my early 1900s German Drilling. I'll post pictures if we're lucky.

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    GD Yankee,

    Oh, I'm sure you'll be lucky. Actually, you already are lucky. You're hunting with a good buddy in great wild country for fabulous birds and you're each carrying some nice guns. Doesn't get much better than that!

    Jim

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    I just picked up your book earlier this week, Jim -- very nice read; great job. I finished it over the last three nights and am now just going back over some of the finer points of the lessons you share in it. I just arrived to North Pole a few weeks ago and have always been preferential to fish and feather vice big game. I was very happy to learn upland birds are so prevalent around Fairbanks. I look forward to many days and miles in their pursuit this season.

    Good luck to everyone.

    Kyle

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    Kyle,

    Welcome to Interior Alaska, a bird hunter's paradise! Glad you enjoyed the book. Have a grand autumn season.

    Jim

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