BIRD HUNTING -- The temperature was 18 degrees this morning when I started hiking up a ridge toward the top of the Snake River canyon. Somewhere between the river and the rim I expected to find chukar partridges hunkered down and waiting for me to give them a little winter exercise.
I was not disappointed. Scout had six covey-finds while I was with him, and probably several more when I couldn't find him. English setters are like that.
But the ground that was frozen and firm in the morning became greasy in the afternoon sunshine, even though the air temps never got above 24. And there's no such thing as flat ground in chukar country.
I did a mud glissade down a steep slope to flush one covey Scout had pinned. I think I heard them laughing as they locked their wings and glided to the next ridge.
I've climbed mountains from the Cascades to McKinley without finding footing as treacherous as the ice, grass, mud and basalt scree where chukars roam.
I'm signing out for the day and looking for a beer in the refrigerator.
Scout has been watered and fed and praised for a job well done, and now he's buried in his pillow bed, dead to the world, with three of his legs sticking out making it look as though he's being sucked down a drain. He's snoring.
It won't be long before I'll be joining him.