Life is a River Blog

Fall Chukar Hunting/Cast and Blast in Hells Canyon–Snake River

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chukar hunting cast & blast
The Texas Crew has a good day.

This hunting and fishing season has been incredible.  Unlike last year, the weather held for us and we didn’t get much rain late summer and in early September.  It set us up for great access to the birds along the Snake River and even though we saw some sprinkles and some overnight rain in October we barely needed a rain coat.  We saw and heard birds right on the water nearly every day and did plenty of hiking after coveys on the benches and above.  “The virgin flocks” as North Star guide Brad Abbott has dubbed them have now had a taste of humans.  Todd, JR, and Rod, now you know what he and Jake Warren have been talking about all this time.

Bird dogs and chukar hunting

Don & Danny hunt the bench above the Snake RIver, Raider and Captain sniffing it out.

Our 5 day Cast & Blast along the river is so unique and well run you will find nothing else like it.  Our guides are stellar people and work incredibly hard to take care of our clients.  Finding chukar and advising on the best gear for bass fishing verses trout fishing, taking care of game, rowing boats, cooking amazing food—the North Star crew manages to do it all and enjoy every minute.  Read on to find out about trips this year so that you can plan for next season. We are having a great fall steelhead and salmon run back to Idaho this year and that just adds to general excitement while in Hells Canyon.  Not only is the scenery and setting incredible, but hooking into big fish just makes everyone happy by the end of the day.

Steelhead Fishing Hells Canyon

Larry Hornbecks steelhead for the day caught from Glenn’s boat.

Chukar Hunters From Near and Far This year’s groups brought us guys from Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Idaho, and Nevada.  A great group of sportsmen who have been all over and done all kinds of hunting, bird and big game, and fishing as well.  According to guide Glenn Mabey , our Texas guys Larry, Don, and Willie could hit a dime with their special southern bass gear from 60 feet away and generally harassed each other while happily reeling in over 100 fish a day.

English Pointers & Chukar Hunting Hells Canyon

Bella had her nap now she’s ready for action.

Bird Dogs—English Pointers, German Shorthairs, and Labs…oh MY! Six dogs on one trip this year and they were all so well behaved we hardly knew they were there in camp.  We had our first ever English Pointer on a trip, Bella.   She was a very serious hunter with the sweetest personality and it was fun to see her tail in the air!  JR returned with his red lab Ruby, even after she popped out a litter of pups last fall.   Also had a host of German Shorthair Pointers of all colors, including North Star RE guide Brad Abbott’s dog Kizer—our seasoned Hells Canyon bird dog—and Jake’s and my new dog Captain (bird dog in training).    All the dogs had a great time out as well, pointed, retrieved, and generally wore themselves out.  I think Jay’s girl GSP named Dot didn’t miss a single bird that went down and just worked tirelessly checking every hackberry bush and pile of rocks we walked past.  She may have had the most points and retrieves of any dog on the trip.  Captain found and pointed his first ever covey of chukar and held great even when they got up.  He found some downed birds and did very well, considering his Mom was not carrying a shotgun and it was his first time out in Hells Canyon. I was just happy he listened and did what I told him!!!  We have high hopes that he might follow in Kizer’s footsteps.

Hunting Hells Canyon

Lunch break photo opp. Raider and Captain are already tired of picture time.

Chukar Hunting Highlights and Tall Tales So many fun, crazy, amazing, and sometimes slightly scary things happen on Cast & Blast trips each year that it would be hard to chronicle them all.  I hope to get some perspectives and stories from the rest of the guide crew as well, since all I can really tell are stories that I hear related in camp at the end of the day, or things that happen just to the group I am hunting or fishing with on any given day.  One such laughable event occurred after a nice little hunt back upriver in Oregon, we’d just rowed across from our camp and set off upriver along the trails and benches after a covey we had heard earlier that morning. After doing a good little hike with not much sign myself and Jay and our GSP’s did a mountain goat style hike up tandem side canyons to look for any hiding birds.  The covey was hiding but just one more crag up river.  We were lucky because instead of holding tight they spooked (we never would have found them) but then circled around and landed right down in the boulders along the river below us.  We made a loop on them and got the dogs out in front, but those wily rascals of course just ran through the boulders away from dogs and hunters alike.  They are much more agile boulderers than the rest of us!!  When they finally did jump up no one was in a good position, and they flew across the river.  Some shots were taken and we managed to knock one or two down into the water.  We returned back downriver toward the boat, all of us resigned that the opportunity was definitely behind us.  Time to scout back downriver.  Most of us being literally 20 feet or less from the boat, everyone unstrapping gear and unloading guns and chatting, we hadn’t noticed that both Captain and Dot had gone into some tall standing mullein and weeds below the hackberries not  5 feet from where the boat was tied off.  Surprising us all a small covey of chukar came blowing out of the brush and flew just down and around the corner.  The dogs, who were likely on point in the brush while none of us were paying attention, came walking back out of the brush, eyes on the birds, then eyes on the hunters and you can just imagine the looks on their faces.  We all just laughed, shook our heads, re-strapped gear, reloaded guns and took off on a merry chase on the trail down river.

Hells Canyon Cast & Blast

Although amazing at being a bird dog, Dot needs work on her cover shot skills. With her master Jay Barksdale.

Make sure to visit our North Star RE Facebook page for many more photos and fun anecdotes from these trips and others.  Call our office for more information about chukar hunting in Idaho and Oregon, the amazing fishery Hells Canyon has to offer and the fishing and hunting combination featured by our Cast & Blast trips.

Bird dogs & Hells Canyon chukar hunting

Geared up, loaded, and ready to go.

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