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Thread: Willows and Whitetails

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    Member sameyer's Avatar
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    Default Willows and Whitetails

    A three hour trek into the mountains, to about 2300 feet, produced a coulple of whitetail ptarmigan and a couple of willows. The willows still had a bit of fall color on their backs and head. Really good looking birds. Did not see a lot of them but plenty to have a great time watching Winchester point them. He was a lot happier than he looks in the picture.

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    Member SkinnyD's Avatar
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    All right this is a dumb question I'm sure... Do the whitetail ptarmigan look noticably different from the willow and rock ptarmigan? I got two this morning and they had black tails but were solid white otherwise. I assumed they were rock ptarmigan since they were up so high, but like I've said before, I'm really new at this.
    Passing up shots on mergansers since 1992.


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    Member sameyer's Avatar
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    Not a dumb question, they are sort of hard to distinguish until you have been around them a bit. THe whitetails are noticably smaller and have, white tail feather with no black markings on their head. Willows have the black tail feathers, rocks have white tail feather and a small strip of black that runs across their eye. Rocks are a bit bigger than white tails, the willows are the largest.

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    Member Hoyt's Avatar
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    Nice job! I'm heading down to the Paxson area with .....Paxson! lol I'll be down there all day on friday. I would have thrown up the wall tent for a weekend hunt, but was offered OT on Sat.

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    SkinnyD,

    Both willow and rock ptarmigan have black tail feathers, but the whitetail, the smallest of the three speicies, has all white tail feathers, hence the name "whitetail ptarmigan."

    Don't know where you hunted today, but my best guess is that you shot two rock ptarmigan.

    Jim

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    Member SkinnyD's Avatar
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    Sitting here with the bird in my hand, I can see black tailfeathers and a black bill. I have consulted the ADFG info page on the birds and I am looking for a "mask" but I do not see anything that makes me immediately think of a mask, at least not by bird book definitions, though it also says the females do not exhibit the mask. However, armed with new knowledge of their sizes relative to each other, I am inclined to agree that both are rock ptarmigan. I would say these birds are 2/3 the size of some similarly marked birds from the Elliot Highway a couple weeks ago.
    Since the bag limit doesn't distinguish between the two, I guess it's not a huge deal. I'm just one of those bird snobs that will examine a duck for an hour to decide if it is a hen pintail or hen widgeon. I need to see a rock ptarmigan beside a willow so I can figure out this "thick, wide bill that is a trademark of the willow ptarmigan." That quote is from ADFG...
    Passing up shots on mergansers since 1992.


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    Member sameyer's Avatar
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    Thanks Hoyt, I am guessing you'll have a great time with Paxson. Getting Winchester up in the high country where he can really work was great. Unbelievable how these setters can cover ground. He has a prey drive that is just amazing, working on getting it a bit harnessed but I couldn't be happier with chosing this dog.

    Yes, rocks do have black tail feathers, typing to fast without checking.

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    Member Hoyt's Avatar
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    sameyer!
    I'm hoping we do well! I'm just ready to get out for a bit. I've been working too much lately. I took a decent number of ruffies earlier in the year and a good number of spruces lately. Paxson is still young and inexperienced, but all the exposure can't hurt! So far he is having no problem with gun fire, and has retrieved spruce and ruffies to hand....not bad for a 6 month pup! I want to get him exposed to some open country and some ptarmies, so thatís why I decided to head down (would do well on grouse around the house). Also a buddy was bear hunting down there, and saw a ton of birds! Winchester is looking awesome! Did you ever get him on any grouse? I'm thinning next year we'll have to get the boys together! I made the decision to send Pax to a professional trainer in Minnesota (leaves in January). I worked with a guy up here, and learned a ton. I think he is as far as I can take him. Unlike a pro, I don't have the same amount of time, resources, and knowledge to really round him out. Plus he'll be hunting/training every day for three months, instead of sitting around at 40 below! I 'm hoping it all works out! Anyway Iím sorry to hijack the thread! Like I said Winchester is looking great, good luck the rest of the year!

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    By the way, I love the expression on his face in the picture!

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    Member sameyer's Avatar
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    Hoyt,

    Sounds like Paxson is doing really well, delivering to hand is something Winchester does occasionally. I haven't forced the issue yet, still trying my best to let him be a pup but it is hard considering how well he seems to be taking to everything so far. We've done a lot of grouse hunting, all Spruce as finding a ruff around here is pure accident. He is a huge asset working the areas I hunt, finds birds in trees and on the ground and without question birds I would never have had a shot at. He works out a little further than I would like especially since he hasn't learned to hold a point for a long time yet but I don't want to rein him in too much and interfere with his natuarl drive.

    Good on you for being able to send Paxson to a pro, I don't know that I could let WInchester go that long (selfish on my part). From everything he already knows it sounds like he is going to be great and would love to hunt with you guys sometime next year. I will be getting chukars in the spring and plan on a summer long training regimen with WInchester that should bring him around just about the right time.

    Have a great time down south and let us know how it goes.

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    Member Hoyt's Avatar
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    We'll be raising Chukars again as well. Raised 10 this year (just butchered them last week, probably could have let them go a few more weeks though). I'll proabably do the same, and maybe a few pheasants as well this coming year. It's going to be tough sending him, off! I'll miss him dearly, but I think it will be a great experience for him. Anyway, I'll keep you posted on the DH ptarmie hunting! Take care!

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