Peat’s First Hunt

Two now
Two now

Peat joined us on the grouse opener today, and the 5-month-old fit right in. At first, he tried keeping up with Angus through the sagebrush, ceanothus, and Hawthorn, yipping and yapping all the way, sounding like Flipper. Soon he must have realized he couldn’t keep up and began going his own way, staying close enough but definitely following his nose until he sensed he needed to check in with us. His tough spirit, which I’ve complained about, seemed to translate into an eager sporting dog. I am excited.

We saw no galliformes, save a lone chukar Peat bumped, and hiked for a couple hours in both open and dense vegetation. Angus covered the ground I’m used to seeing him dance over, no sign of slowing. Two more weekends of this, then it’s on. Yay.

Shameless Self-promotion

Nice spread of Rachel's painting
Nice spread of Rachel’s painting

The current issue of Gray’s Sporting Journal (Bird Hunting Edition, August 2015, available at Barnes & Noble) features a piece I wrote about Angus a couple years ago. The best thing about the piece is Rachel Teannalach‘s painting, which I wrote about in an earlier post. Still, the piece is heartfelt and makes a nice tribute to one of the most compelling souls I’ve had the pleasure of being with in this short life.

Agony and Irony

Midget Devil in action
Midget Devil in action

“This, too, shall pass.”

God, I certainly hope so.

This will probably be our last puppy. Peat’s not all bad. He’s a puppy, doing puppy things. He’s got limitless energy and limitless appetite for biting everything and everyone. He can shriek for 20 minutes straight at any time of day. He has pushed Angus to the brink of speaking English to express his frustration; the look in Angus’ eyes after Peat mauls him for a solid half-hour is unmistakably desperate.

Ready to rumble
Ready to rumble

He’s 13 weeks old today, and continues to piss on the floor whenever he fancies. Peat does show moments of calm affection, and has actually begun sleeping on the bed with us through the night. And he is a pleasure to look at regardless of his behavior. But the puppy and his puppiness is wearing us out and has propelled our stress levels through the roof.

All this probably bodes well. At least I have to tell myself that. He’s interested in birds, and points the wing, as well as fetches anything I throw, leaning into me upon arrival. He’s quick, fast, and seems to have a super sensitive nose. I think he’ll be ready to look for birds in September.

First river crossing
First river crossing

Wanting a puppy to grow up just seems wrong. It’s the cutest time of their lives. When they’re sweet there’s nothing like it. After he’s calmed down enough to go to bed with us, he nestles in my armpit and lets me stroke the downy fur on his head.

Angus of the Chukar Hills


"Angus of the Chukar Hills" by Rachel Teannalach
“Angus of the Chukar Hills” by Rachel Teannalach

When the season consumes you, you don’t worry about much else. When it’s over, you worry about everything else. Filling up that worry with good things to carry it away like water helps. Yesterday was one of those good days between seasons. We collected a painting we commissioned and hung it up. It is working already.

We’d admired Rachel Teannalach‘s work for quite a while. Her eye for light and spirit in landscapes resonated with us. We lucked into taking her for a hike into one of our favorite spots, and she got to work, after we subjected her to what seemed like thousands of “favorite” photos of Angus in Hell’s Canyon.

Not being a painter, I’d never studied her work closely, but having this on our wall now gives me the chance to see, maybe, what good painters see and translate through and onto their media and make into spirit and feeling.

Detail: Brownlee Reservoir
Detail: Brownlee Reservoir
Detail: Angus pointing
Detail: Angus pointing

Only connect. Yesterday my teacher Bruce Gandy won a major bagpipe competition. A year or so ago, after watching a video I’d made about connecting things (one of which was chukar hunting with Angus), he thought he’d found the subject title to one of his piobaireachd compositions. “Salute to Angus of the Chukar Hills” was title he settled on. Having two works of art in sight and sound is good. What’s best for me is the connection between people and animals and landscapes and sounds that make me feel connected.

Yesterday, we picked a puppy brother for Angus. Peat’ll be ready to come home in a few weeks (more on that later). We also went to a track meet and watched some of my students run well. Bruce won a major competition. We got a gorgeous painting. Ripples in water, crossing each other, making me smile inside, washing away worry.



We took a hike a couple weeks ago before the rain. The chukar hills were bone dry, like mid-October. The only green things we saw were a few buttercups and some tiny wild currant leaves fooled by the warm, sunny weather. I tried imagining what a bird feels when it can’t get enough to eat.

Buttercup, and a little greenup...
Buttercup, and a little greenup…

Then rain came. Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, and everything turned green overnight. I imagined chukar sighing with relief and filling their crops with succulent blades of cheatgrass.

It feels good to care about this land for other creatures’ sakes. I suppose it lessens the selfishness I feel in the fall removing some of those creatures from their land. But really I just want there to be lots of birds to shoot. They need food. Food needs rain. What does rain need?


End of season reflection

A rare conversation
A rare conversation

After hiking more miles and vertical feet than ever, the season ended too soon for us. January in this part of Idaho brought us less than ideal hunting conditions. We didn’t get out as much as we wanted to. We suffered through seemingly incessant weeks of thick fog, freezing temps, and post-holing crusty snow. It would warm up and thaw out for a day or so only to bring mud so deep that driving through it would only result in making the local paper about the lost hunters who never came back home again. The cold and flu season also ended up taking its toll. About the only productive thing besides a cough was more time to get our new home brewing system set-up.

Looking back, we had four months of great hunting. Angus hunted superbly, verifying repeatedly that he’s in his prime. We saw many miles of new terrain, and spent good times with friends and family. Here are some of our favorite hunting and some non-hunting memories of the 2014-2015 season. Enjoy.

We did some early season grouse hunting in terrain much different than chukar hunting.
Camping in the boat for opening day. We sure took a lot of stuff.
We camped in the boat for opening day. Despite taking tons of crap we still managed to forget part of the backpack stove, resulting in chilling, extra-gritty cowboy coffee.
Angus held his tongue on our coffee debacle.
We thought it was a peaceful spot to camp until we awoke at 1 a.m. at a 45-degree angle. We learned that the reservoir water level drops during the night.
We ran into a lot of nasty goat heads/puncture vines.
We had a couple of cast and blast days early in the season.
Angus managed to find the only mud bog for miles.
We crawled under plenty of thicket.
On one of the few hunts with The Kid this year, we crawled on hands and knees under thicket.
We did GPS waymarking on every hunt.
We soaked our hot and tired feet.
We had fun skipping stones.
We climbed many steep hills.
We climbed many steep hills.
We drank a lot of water.
We constantly checked for cheatgrass.
We constantly checked for cheatgrass.
We removed plenty of cockleburs.
We sometimes had time to stop and pose for a photo.
We sometimes had time to stop and pose for a photo.
We spoiled our bird dog.
We hunted with brother-in-law, Dave.
We tried to teach Angus’s nephew how to drink water.
We saw lots of amazing points.
Angus hated on-leash time at the campground.
We had a great time camping but Angus hated the leash.
We did a lot of side hill hiking.
We gave a bird away for fly-tying feathers.
We hunted with an old Brittany named Donner.
We followed lots of tracks in the snow.
We had some good post-hunt snacks.
We almost had Angus's nephew steal our chukar.
We laughed watching Angus’s nephew try to steal our chukar.
On Christmas Day, we got a glimpse of two of the last three remaining Brownlee bighorn sheep.
We even had Angus stick his tongue out at us (he’s not a huge fan of the boat).
Parting shot. Looking forward to next season.
Parting shot. Looking forward to next season.

Not just for the birds


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