In addition to an unforgettable experience and the opportunity to put delicious food on the table, the Slam Program offers rewards to hunters who are successful in harvesting various upland game species.
Newer research has shown an additional factor: water and air temperatures play a big part in fish survival. Fish, especially cold-water fish like trout, are more likely to die when they are caught and brought up into warm summer waters.
They’re unlike any other of Utah’s birds. These tiny birds range from 2¾ to 4 inches tall and have some of the highest metabolisms in the world, with heart rates around 1,250 beats per minute. At night, their hearts slow to between 50 and 180 beats per minute, which enables them to tolerate some below-freezing temperatures.
I felt the solid hit and pull of a fish after setting the hook. I played him with my reel and he was large enough to take some line as he made his runs in his effort to escape. Within a few minutes, I had him to the boat. After a quick photo op, I released him. I felt great — I’d just landed my first fish of the season.
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.
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!