About five minutes later, Gauge’s tail helicoptered again. A lone chukar flushed in front of me, headed straight away; I pulled my gun up and shot once just as the bird was about to disappear behind the ridgeline. The bird crumbled in midair and fell out of sight.
Joshua put his hands over his ears and motioned to Isaiah to do the same as I set the hair trigger on my 50-caliber muzzleloader. Within seconds after the smoke cleared, the animal stopped running and it was over. The boys were beside themselves. The look on their faces was one of excitement and sheer joy.
I was so anxious and excited sitting in my little blind, I could barely contain myself. Anytime a bird came anywhere close, my heart would race and I’d start wiggling. Rich and Chad used different calls to attract the birds. You could see birds change directions in flight in response to the calls. Very fun to watch.
To me, the most satisfying thing about the Waterfowl Slam is that every dollar raised from this program is going towards creating or enhancing waterfowl habitat in Utah. So far we have raised over $10,000 that will go directly back into habitat projects around the state!
The day was gorgeous, the weather was great, the scenery was interesting and colorful and there were plenty of deer for us to watch through binoculars. Fortunately, it’s a big area and we were able to find some wildlife close enough to photograph.
I, meanwhile, popped away at the birds with my little single shot Savage. Miss after miss followed. “Man,” I said to myself, “these ducks are hard to hit!” Finally, a big drake mallard flew straight at me. I shot, and it fell. What a thrill!
For those who enjoy an upland game hunting challenge, don’t mind braving the elements and prefer to avoid crowds, late-season forest grouse hunting may be something to consider.
The day was amazingly perfect. At one point, the wind picked up and aspen leaves fell in the stream where about a dozen browns came to hang out. It was magical. This trip was a reminder that I need to get out and fly fish more: I could use the practice and the fresh air.
In addition to the adventure of the experience, it’s been a goal of mine to harvest every species of upland game I manage in the Upland Game Program. Going into the 2013 season, I had one species left: the elusive white-tailed ptarmigan. The hunt was on!
Everyone was eager to not only see these mysterious creatures up close, but to touch and even smell the furry little flyers. Seeing everyone in the dark was difficult, but characterizing the mood of this group was easy: Bring on the bats!
I love fishing the streams and lakes in Utah because of the diversity of trout species. Until a few years ago, I was completely content fishing for trout, but I began to realize that there were many other cool and warm water fish species in Utah.
When the mob of chicks came back to my edge of the fence, I just reached in and picked one up. That, of course, left its beak free to protest by pecking the top of my head. I got the little guy under my arm quickly and was able to hold a hand over his eyes, which calmed him down.