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Posts Tagged ‘Fields Oregon’

This scree harbored a covey of chukars, believe it or not.

Have you ever had virtually everything go right? For almost three weeks? When the equation included two dogs, four TV cameras, crew, vehicles and a squeaky-tight schedule?

As the saying goes, I’d rather be lucky than good. In this case, good planning was complemented by better luck. This year’s Awesome Upland Road Trip was a vestful of highlights, which you’ll see starting next summer on Wingshooting USA. I’ll do my best to recall some of them here between now and then, starting with the warm-up chukar hunt in southeast Oregon.

It was warm, dry, and where we hunt that’s a good thing.  (The roads turn to gumbo with a light sprinkle; if you’re up a canyon you’ll slide into something on the way down. If you’re at the mouth, you won’t be going uphill any time soon.) Mike got there early and staked out our favorite spot. I followed, paying a visit to my favorite town, Fields (pop. 9) and proprietors Tom and Sandy Downs. There’s always a new or old friend in the cafe’, and the Friday before the opener was no exception. It’s one of many reasons I hunt that area, and there’s been more than one occasion when I’ve seen folks there I haven’t seen in town in years, adding spice to an already tasty serving of high country adventure.

A warm-up hill ... easy walking, relatively speaking.

Dave rolled in late (he’s got a respectful day job – actually, two) and we finally got some shuteye. Dawn came early and cold, with the crack of shotguns down canyon. A neighboring camp had the jump on us, scattering the home covey of valley quail before we’d finished our coffee.  They didn’t stay long, though, as their principal quarry was mule deer.

We mobilized and headed for higher terrain and chukar partridge but our walk was interrupted by Buddy’s first point and the whir of quail wings … apparently the other hunters hadn’t broken up the covey completely … or was it another bunch, headed down the same canyon?

Dave’s young Lab Buster was enjoying the tantalizing scent, the excitement of gunfire, and a playmate in my wirehair. He’s got potential.  Singles flushed sporadically, and we pursued. How we did is the subject of a future installment.

One tired wire.

Camp. If I told you where it was, I'd have to kill you. The Aliner pop-up trailer performed perfectly!

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Mine? Beyond my wildest expectations. That was our chukar and valley quail opening weekend. Our annual “Boy’s Weekend” at 1) our usual camp spot (unoccupied); 2) weather threatened but skies brightened; 3) a gigantic quail covey not 50 yards from camp – woohoo!

Highlights: Buddy worked hard, finding down birds when nobody else could. Dave’s pup Buster joining the fraternity of bird dogs – the light went on when he understood what retrieving was all about. Manny’s elegant point on that big covey – where’s a camera when you need one?

Buddy hunted along the stream with Dave and Mike while I got Manny out of the truck, and I don’t know if there’s a more gratifying feeling than watching your dog help someone else by pointing, then retrieving chukars. Now, if only our shooting matched the dog work!

And only at Fields Station in southeast Oregon can you run into old friends from New Jersey!

Finally, after passing by for decades, we stopped to hunt a new canyon: steeper than everything nearby, the toughest climbing up and down dangerous scree slopes … but all was forgotten when the fourth, fifth, and sixth coveys of chukars thundered aloft.

This is the place.

You'd be tired, too, if you retrieved so many birds!

When we started hunting this patch, it was a whole, dead cow.

Good boy!

Maiden voyage for the Aliner Expedition ... sweet!

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