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Old 09-10-2009, 01:40 AM
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Default Himalayan Snowcock (long & pic heavy)

A "super chukar" trip has been on my mind for a few years now, but knowing that it's not exactly a dog-friendly hunt, I had been putting it off until my aging shorthair, Tucker, could no longer run and I would not feel guilty leaving him home. Well the other day I said to myself, "Screw it. Let's go in and climb some peaks and treat it as a scouting trip if nothing more. Maybe we'll get lucky and stumble into some birds..."

So Friday evening we hit the trail in Nevada's "Little Yosemite" or "Swiss Alps" and knocked off a couple miles in the fading light. As darkness descended, we came across a father & son from Vegas in search of the trophy bird as well. They kindly offered me a spot to pitch my tent next to theirs and we sat up talking bird hunting among other things late into the night.

The next morning we were all up before light and while they had decided to hunt that bowl, I wanted to move camp further in since I had a kitchen pass for the next couple of days and a desire to do some exploring.



We parted ways wishing each other luck and when I reached the top of that first pass I dropped the pack to scramble up the nearby peak and have a look around.



On the way up Tucker went on point and I started to get excited.



But all we found were fresh turds.



We bagged the summit and admired the spectacular views in every direction.

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Old 09-10-2009, 01:44 AM
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Soon after we dropped down and set up camp next to this lake, which is at ~10,000' and is rumored to have lake trout in it. Next time I need to bring the fishing pole.



After a brief power nap we set out off trail to bag this peak.



About halfway across the leftside traverse I heard loud alarm calls of what could only be snowcock and as I looked up six birds a couple hundred yards away went sailing down and over into the next ravine. As we slowly proceeded across the talus slope, a seventh bird with its wings tucked to its sides came screaming down the mountainside directly overhead and disappeared in the valley below. I heard it before I saw it and all I could do was stand there and gape as an image of an SR71 Blackbird immediately came to mind. I had read these birds could reach 150mph but was skeptical until witnessing that performance.

When we crossed over into the next gully the same birds bumped up again well out of shotgun range and disappeared far below, but this time I at least managed to snap a couple photos.



Two birds in the right of the picture here...

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Old 09-10-2009, 01:52 AM
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We continued on our way, but it was getting unexpectedly warm for this altitude. My dog was starting to overheat and was drinking far more water than I had anticipated, which worried me. So we had to abandon our planned summit and finished skirting around the peak, then dropped down into a creek to cool off and rehydrate.



The terrain wasn't particularly rough on his feet, but being the beginning of the season I put the booties on for the day to avoid tearing a pad so far from the truck.

After our rest I considered calling it a day and heading back to camp, but couldn't resist the urge to head up another nearby highpoint.

As I trudged along near the top, movement caught the corner of my eye and I thought I saw rocks scurrying across the ground. Looking over I found my dog intensely on point staring straight at those same "rocks".





I quietly followed while Tucker stayed on point until the birds reached a ridgeline and I snapped a few more photos.



As soon as they dropped over the other side I hauled ass after them. Popping up over the ridge, seven birds simultaneously took to the air just as I shouldered the shotgun and fired. I couldn't tell if I hit the first bird as it flew behind a small tree, and so I quickly drew a bead on another and pulled the trigger again. That bird, to my amazement, kept right on flying, but then out from behind the tree plunged the first bird, which hit the ground running.
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Old 09-10-2009, 02:00 AM
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Tucker was on it right away and as the bird frantically disappeared below some rocks, I smugly sat back and waited for my dog to do his thing having watched this scenario play out many times in the past.



And sure enough, a moment later he reappeared from behind those boulders with a trophy mouthful.





What an extraordinary bird in an extraordinary place.



I now call this outfit "snowcock camo".

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Last edited by BillyGoat; 09-10-2009 at 02:07 AM.
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Old 09-10-2009, 02:04 AM
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On the long walk back to camp, I spotted several deer. I had hopes of seeing some goats, sheep, or maybe a nice buck or two on this trip, but that was not to be.



Nearing camp, Tucker went on point again beneath a Bristlecone Pine and a few minutes later I found myself pulling the snowcock out of the backpack for comparison with a blue grouse.



I had read these birds were "larger than a blue grouse but smaller than a sage grouse" and would weigh in between 3 and 10 lbs. Later after arriving back home, I discovered mine to be 3 1/4 lbs leading me to believe it must be a hen (which as I understand are marked similarly) or perhaps a juvenile. I chuckled to myself trying to imagine Tucker bringing a 10 lb bird in his mouth back to me up on those rocks.

The sun had now started to set and we were treated to a striking sunset.



I was "dog tired" and so was Tucker.



We finally got back to camp and I cooked up some dinner. What an awesome day in the backcountry.



When I go backpacking nowadays, I always seem to find room to shove a beer or two in at the last minute. And despite the outrageous amount of dog food packed this trip, it just so happened I had a can chilling in the lake waiting for me. I cracked it open and celebrated success under a perfect night sky. This is what they put Fat Tire in a can for, fellas.



The next morning, as much as I wanted to stay one more night, I packed up and hiked out knowing that I'll definitely come back to this amazing place in the future.
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Last edited by BillyGoat; 09-10-2009 at 02:12 AM.
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Old 09-10-2009, 05:01 AM
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Awesome pics Billy. Quite an accomplishment.
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Old 09-10-2009, 05:11 AM
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Awesome, I am envious of you guys that can do these kind of trips.
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Old 09-10-2009, 06:50 AM
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Billy;

That is a true adventure, especially for a bird hunt. When I lived in NV, I always thought about doing that, but never did. Damn it.

Would love to combine that with an early archery mule deer hunt.

Thanks for sharing. Those are some cool pics that show a great hunt/story.
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Old 09-10-2009, 07:17 AM
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Very cool hunt and pics. Thanks for sharing. Congrats!
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Old 09-10-2009, 07:41 AM
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Nice work! That's a trophy bird for sure.

I lived in Reno for 4 years and always intended to go after them, but never did.

I need to go back and do it.
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Old 09-10-2009, 07:51 AM
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That's really cool!
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Old 09-10-2009, 07:55 AM
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Wow!!!!! They have Fat Tire in a can???



Oh, and btw, congrats on the bird, those thing are almost mythical. I have spent quite a bit of time in that part of NV this summer, and have yet to stumble on one...
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Old 09-10-2009, 08:44 AM
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Outstanding pic/story!
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  #14  
Old 09-10-2009, 08:55 AM
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Hell, I never heard of the bird until now. Thanks for the the ride.
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Old 09-10-2009, 09:18 AM
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That was really cool! Nice trip, great photos too.
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Old 09-10-2009, 10:32 AM
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Congrats on a rare trophy and some great photos.
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Old 09-10-2009, 10:50 AM
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Great pics and story thanks
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Old 09-10-2009, 10:58 AM
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Superb pictures and scenery, BG.

Thanks for sharing............

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  #19  
Old 09-10-2009, 12:14 PM
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Billy, thanks for taking me to a place I shall never see. Congrats on the bird.......I have a hunch I know how you hunt turkeys now!
WD
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Old 09-10-2009, 01:30 PM
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That's the coolest hunt write up I've read in quite a while. Awesome pictures too.
Thanks for bringing us along like that.
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Old 09-10-2009, 02:06 PM
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billygoat...great story, great pics and a great hunt with a great old friend for you! congrats!
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Old 09-10-2009, 02:42 PM
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Very cool. What do they taste like? Chicken?
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  #23  
Old 09-10-2009, 04:08 PM
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Great story,what did you do with the bird.
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Old 09-10-2009, 05:07 PM
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Sweet pictures and story. I've heard of hunting these birds before but never dreamed it to be that specatular.
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Old 09-10-2009, 06:44 PM
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Awesome Loren, if anyone could pull that off it would be you. The Holy Grail of Game Birds in North American, Super Congrats, JLG.
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