Scariest Halloween Ever – 7 Billion Reasons Why

Leave a comment

Happy Haloween – in what could be the scariest one ever.  Who needs goblins and ghouls to terrify our wits, when we have stark reality that is a much more sobering shock to our sensibilities?  Yep, today is the day our world populations reaches the 7 billion mark.  Now, that wouldn’t be so bad if we lived on a planet with an unlimited carrying capacity. But we don’t.  So the closer we get to reaching earths carrying capacity, the scarier things get.

Crossing that line is when the demographic transition changes things most drastically. When humans fail to address their own burgeoning numbers, nature steps in, and harsh consequences is the end result.

Check out these figures for human world population:

500 AD:  200 million
1250:       400 million
1805:            1 billion (Lewis & Clark heads west, finds Salmon River Country)
1920:            2 billion
1959:            3 billion
1987:            5 billion  (United Nations declares July 11, 1987 as “World Population Day” every year thereafter.
1999:            6 billion
2011:             7 billion (Oct 31, 2011 scariest Halloween ever)
2025:            8 billion
2050:            9 billion
2100:           10 billion (that is, if natures response to the 8 billion level is not as self-limiting as it most likely will be)

Lets see, if we were to equate human growth rate to cfs (cubic feet per second) of a rivers flow, which rises exponentially, we would see that each incremental rise in numbers raises the rivers level even more, at an even faster rate. How scary is that?  It doesn’t take long to reach flood levels. That is when the water jumps the bank and begins to raise havoc with the land. A flood of people can do the same.

What to do? Well, look at the picture on this post. Do you see any people in it? Well, the reason you don’t is that there isn’t any to see.  Unbelievable as it seems, you can still travel to places where you can get away from the crowds of humanity. It is still possible to get those Halloween cerebral goblins out of your mind. It just takes know-how and know-where.

Having so much elbow room in one of the deepest canyons in North America, and on one of the most famous rivers (“River of No Return”) on the planet, is amazing.  So if the Goblins of busy intersections, long lines at store counters, and other crowded situations crowd your mind, I have a great solution for you. It’s called “Salmon River” and the steelhead are here in good numbers. Add a few chukars to that mix and some great landscapes, and you have the recipe to a wonderfully medicinal solitude.

Stone Face, Eastern Islands-ish, on Idaho’s Salmon River Breaks


So what?  Well, it is yet another example of why I like chukar hunting along the precipitous Salmon River Breaks.  There are so many cool things to see while hunting in far out terrain, and hard to get places.  The rewards of discovery await those willing to cover the ground less traveled.

Just the other day, I found an interesting Hoodoo, that gave the strange feeling I was either being watched by non-human landmarks, or had entered a fantasy world akin to tramping through Easter Island.  Maybe too much blood to my head getting to higher elevations, make my mind run rampant??

In addition to land forms, other discoveries also often await the curious eye.  Shed antlers, deer, elk, or bighorn sheep come to mind. I have found all, at various times over the years. Often they get carted home as a gift for my wife, and an incentive for her to keep on encouraging me to head out to the chukar slopes.

Another fun thing about hunting chukars is that it allows me to put my foot down in places very few people,  if any,  ever travel to.  Think about it. This can allow a person to feel like number one. Hero worship is all about following that elusive number. Ever watch football? Who doesn’t want to be on the winning side? It seems our entire culture (and perhaps human nature in general) is obsessed about winning, as is categorized by such words as best, biggest, or most, we so often use.

While your chance of being number one is quite limited in today’s world, these is a way to increase those odds. it just requires some effort. Like in, putting one foot in front of the other and pointing yourself in the direction less pursued.   Chukar world holds all these opportunities, so I take them whenever I can. So can you.

Traversing some remote bowl, tucked away in secluded terrain, invigorates more than just a person’s heart rate. It liberates the soul and inspires true personal freedom.

Educated Chukars

Leave a comment

After one of my most arduous of chukar hunts of a very long time, just yesterday, I have come to the conclusion that chukars read my blog about Chukar Refuge.  Sure, I didn’t post it until after that hunt, but I think some mysterious force transformed my unpublished draft, via cyber waves to  chukar syntax and brain function. That tongue-in-cheek chukars guide turned into more of a tongue lashing. Like in hard panting for me and my dogs.

I was exploring a new area, one I had by-passed for eons (for good reason) due to the precipitous and vertical-ness of it all.  Hoping to find another secret hot spot, by virtue of extreme difficulty in accessing such, was the little voice inside my head urging me to continue.  Every time I stopped to rest, thinking about turning around, that little voice kept repeating something to the effect, just one more bench will reveal chukar Nirvana.

Well, while Nirvana transformed more into a nirvana with a small “n,” and less discovered  hunt-able chukar habitat than expected, the views were spectacular.  Me and the girls (Ember and Sugar – mother daughter team of Weims) did find some birds, but apparently they had read the chukar guide-book.  At least, except for one bird. It ended up in Embers mouth and soon, my bag. But that was an awfully ugly workout for just one mis-fortunate (for the chukar) chukar.

Chukars Guide for Refuge from Hunters

Leave a comment

Pay attention, youngsters. If you wish to see the green grass and feisty hoppers of yet another day on the slopes, heed these suggestions. Sure, four-legged and winged predators loom ever large.  That is a constant, 365 days a year.  However, for the fall, another predator of the two-legged kind, hits the slopes. Not to worry,  that is, if you pay close attention and be ever wary.

Although these two-legged types carry a critter called a shot-gun, don’t  panic yet. These cold barreled fire-sticks sling a lot of pellets, but are relatively easy to avoid.  Despite the fact that these shoulder-kicking irons can extend the lethal reach of the human “hunter,” (as they call themselves) you have good options. You can duck behind a rock, dive off the edge, or get the hell out of Chukartown,  to pull off your timely escape in a hurry.

Fortunately, these type of predators are not quite as savvy as the “non-human” kind. They normally make plenty of noise and advertise their presence much more often. It they are not yelling at their dog, (coyotes brother), they holler a lot at their fellow hunters.  Thus, letting you know quite precisely where they are. Hunker down and remain calm.  If their dogs have not caught your scent yet, you are still safe.

Caution! Sometimes they use talking boxes, (walkie-talkies, as they like to call them) so they can use even more talk on the hill when they get tired  of long-range shouting.  This is your chance to hold tight, hit the air, or run uphill. The uphill part discourages even the more adventurous hunter, at some point or another. Note: the human being gets tired because they often feed on bowls of popcorn in front of their tv sets, thereby culturing more winter fat, than hard muscle needed to climb steep terrain.

And when they see you fly across to the next canyon it can really defeat their resolve and  discourage them more from following you. Often this little trick will also increase their desire to go back to their rigs, or at least remain on the same easy contour. They don’t like to do the yo-yo thing anymore than they have to. Knowing their habits is crucial to avoiding an encounter with them and chance to ruin your day.

The older mature ones often have knee problems or poor cardio, so they are easier to keep at a safer, far-off distance.  Note: the younger ones may be much more capable of negotiating rough topography, and sometimes don’t quit walking soon enough. They are more susceptible to getting cliffed-out and doing a lot of back-tracking. Wisdom comes with age, and not many short cuts. Note: it takes a human a long time to gain wisdom.

So, pay attention. Be ever skeptical and suspicious. That is the name of chukar survival. Lastly, if it walks like a human and talks like a human, it is probably a human.

Guides Guide for Guides Guiding Chukar Hunters

Leave a comment

For those of you who find yourself trying to organize a chukar hunt, professionally or not, following are a few tricks that have helped me over the years when guiding wing chasers.

As a river guide, with the advantage of floating into remote country to access hunting areas with a little more elbow room, I have ample opportunity to size up guests whom want to chukar hunt. This is especially important for evaluating first time chukar hunters.

They often, despite ample warnings, have no real idea about the consequences of pursuing birds in seriously challenging canyon country.

First of all, chukar hunting is not for everyone. Like in elk hunting, you have to go where the elk are. Well, I consider chukars the elk of the bird world. While often one must go into some deep, ugly canyon hole, to get an elk, one must climb high, rugged terrain to find chukars.  Boiled down, this spells good health and being in reasonable shape, or better.

If birds are at the 4000 foot level, and you can only climb to the 3000 foot level, guess what? You won’t be eating much chukar stew.

Like reading water to negotiate the river, reading people helps when planning a chukar hunt. The old saying: “You can’t judge a book by its cover” has always been highly questionable to me.  A persons physical stature is like the title of a book. It reveals a lot of what might be inside. ( an over – taxed heart, or a great engine) and is an important indicator of what to expect and how to deal with it.

As a long time observer of many things in nature, with well over 50 years of experience doing so, I believe everything your eyes see, will tell you something. So I pay close attention to every guest when I first meet them. Their body size, clothing, how they move, their agility getting in and out of my boat, what comes out of their mouth, attitudes, everything.

After considering all these factors collectively for all whom wish to make the hunt, and not remain at the boat to fish, I plan our initial attack.  Of course, choices are sometimes quite limited by terrain, so options very with each area. If I have people in questionable shape, I will try to go to areas (if available) where I know trails exist to make climbing easier. It is more like using a ramp rather than stairs which require higher foot lifting each step.  Cross country climbing always involves more resistance due to vegetation or negotiating obstacles, thus increasing energy drain more significantly than a trail walk.

Of course gun safety is priority one, before we get out of the boat. Muzzle awareness is critical all day long, From every time a gun is grabbed, rather it is to get in or out of the boat with,  or engage the hill, is of utmost importance to maintain.  Not only for people, but for any dogs helping us find birds.

The first mistake most people make, is wearing too many clothes when they start out. Sure, the morning might be cold in the early hour, but once the climbing begins, that changes fast. In the boat blood is idle, on the hill it percolates and warms body parts. Unless you like to carry heavier shed clothes most of the day, leave warmer stuff at the boat for later. Your body temp will soon  acclimate to the exertion on the hunt.  It is better to carry more water, (for yourself and dog) than extraneous clothes.

As any experienced chukar hunter knows, you seldom get birds hunting them uphill. Unlike most upland game birds, that seek cover for refuge, chukars like to find open rocks or terrain where they can see danger coming. That way, they can run like hell up hill, or dive off the edge and fly like a bullet to safety far below, or across to the next canyon.

My normal game plan is to hike everyone in a group at first, all going straight up, or zigzagging when we can, to gain altitude. Then, depending on each hunter’s physical shape, and/or desires, each one will stop at a designated elevation, until we are all evenly spaced along the slope.  Then the top person will be the lead hunter and key to the intended hunt.

Did I mention the use of radios? I like for each hunter to have one, as it is so much easier to keep track of everyone. It helps to direct people when they get “cliffed out” or terrain challenged, and need eyes from afar to help determine their next move.  Sometimes even quick radio talk can alert hunters for potential action when dogs are getting birdie or on point. Increased anticipation adds more excitement and sometimes more success to the hunt.

Once the line is established, and the top hunter (usually the guide, but not always) begins walking, then the next guy in line below, will follow. But, most importantly, each successional hunter down the line should always be behind the hunter directly above, by about 50 yards or so. This allows a broader radius to swing a gun when following a bird for the hunter above, and better safety zone for the hunter below.  Basically, a long diagonal line will be maintained as each person contours around the hill, hoping to slip up on some unsuspecting chukars. Often, more than one gunner gets shooting as birds fly wildly around the hillside in and out of range for various positions on the line.

Because birds often fly back around to the same area we just hunted, we can turn around at the end of our predetermined area boundary, and hunt back through the same area already traversed.  So it pays to observe where birds land once flushed. Other times, hunters continue in a downriver direction to an agreed upon meeting spot, while I go back to the boat and float it down to pick them up.

Once back to the boat, fishing sounds like a great idea. Did I mention thirsty, tired, foot-dragger ready to rest? Or that the next chukar chasing opportunity suggested by the guide is often referred to as a revenge hunt?