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Thursday, August 31, 2017
Hot conditions afield for deer hunters

Chukar season has a promising look
Thanks to timely winter and spring rains in the high desert and those heavy thunderstorms that passed through that region last week, prospects for there being a decent chukar season looks promising. Western Outdoor News traveled through chukar country this past week and the following is what this hunting editor has to report.

As the sun came up just outside of Hesperia the greening up of the high desert was evident. Stands of creosote brush were shoulder high, sage brush was very healthy looking and there appeared to be plenty of cheat grass and other native vegetation on the desert floor. While there did seem to be an absence of dove winging overhead, there was every indication that conditions looked prime for chukar and rabbits!

CHUKAR OFF TO A GOOD START — Conditions afield are looking very promising to produce a good chukar opener in October. Hoss Hamman of Alta Loma shows off a nice brace of adult chukar he shot a few years back while on a hunt with High Desert Guide Service. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

Red Mountain was pretty much covered in different grasses and at lower elevations had a good mix of cover, while next door at Randsburg conditions even looked better. There was a very green appearance to the surrounding terrain. There must have been some pretty strong summer thunderstorms all along Hwy. 395 leading up from Inyokern to Bishop with many “flooded” road signs still out along with some sand on the road.

Making a stop in Olancha this writer visited with Jose Mendoza, a local cowboy who works on a cattle ranch overlooking Owens Lake.

“While riding herd for our cattle we are seeing good coveys of chukar, especially at higher elevations where there are some oak and juniper trees. These coveys are numbering anywhere where from 12 to 20 birds and some of the chukar are still pretty small. I would think it would be a good chukar season along the western slopes of the High Sierra, IF, a hunter was able to get out and walk out some of the canyons that have a good water source. As for quail we are seeing lots of coveys down lower, but the cover is thick this year and the quail are running from cover to cover rather than flushing,” stated Mendoza.

Arriving in Bishop WON made a stop at Reagan’s Sporting Goods, (760) 872-3000, to visit with owner Reagen Slee before heading on up to “Arcularius On The River” for a few days of fly fishing the upper Owens River. The following information was passed on by Slee.

“All the way from China Lake, clear on up to the White Mountains and up into Bishop Creek everyone is talking about the number of chukar they are seeing. I don’t know if chukar hunting will be as good as it was 5 years ago before the drought, but I know it’s going to be a lot better than it has the last few dismal seasons. Guys out scouting deer for archery season are seeing lots more chukar already this summer. I would think that hunters that stick to higher elevations around 7,000 feet on either side of Owens Valley, especially in spots where there is available water will do well. Seems that the chukar are not having to leave the high country to come down and get water from the Owens River YET! Access could be a problem this year with all the runoff. The Department of Water and Power diverted a lot of water from the Owens River and spread it out across the valley floor covering up lot of access roads. The reason for this diversion was to protect all the work that has been going on in the lake bed of Owens Lake,” stated Slee.

Slee went on to add, “Reports are that there are pretty decent coveys of California valley quail across the entire valley as well. There is a tremendous amount of native cover, plenty of water and a variety of food sources. I would think that the carryover of adult quail from last year should have produced some sizeable clutches.”

Unfortunately, not much information has been passed on to this hunting editor about chukar numbers in and around Lucerne, Apple Valley, the eastern slopes of the San Bernardino Mountains and the Ord Mountain Range. The editor feels pretty much that there will be huntable numbers of chukar in these portions of the high desert based on recent thunder shower activity, plenty of food, water and cover and the number of adult chukar that carried over from last year.

Western Outdoor News checked in with maser guide Harold Horner of High Desert Guide Service, (760) 447-1030.

“The only area that I have checked thus far this season that is showing any amount of chukar is in the El Paso Mountain range. This area must have had a good carryover of adult birds and with all the summer rains this region is looking promising,” stated Horner.

Chukar hunters take note: Non-toxic shot is now required when hunting native chukar out in the wilds. This chukar hunter has opted to hunt with Federal Prairie Storm FS #4 steel shot in a 3 inch shell that has a muzzle velocity of 1600 fps. Lead shot can be used on private pheasant clubs, but most clubs have already switched over to non-toxic shot.

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