Monday, February 28, 2011

Feeding The Home Covey

After record low temperatures last week and officially having snow cover in Central Montana for the 4th full month, I couldn't take it any longer. I had to check on the local partridge covey. They aren't birds I hunt, but birds that my dogs get to find, point, and sometimes chase, throughout the spring, summer and fall. Huns are often predictable in their favorite haunts and they were here again, midday on a windy, wintry day.
Unfortunately, the covey of 11 Huns in November, numbered only 7 this day in February. Different covey? Possibly, but doubtful. They flushed to their usual refuge, a patch of buck brush, just over the ridge. They sounded the same, flew the same, but I felt sorry for them. When the landscape is nothing but white, crusted snow, I really wonder what they eat. I feel less sorry for pheasants, as they are bigger, can eat foods such as Russian olives and can scratch through some snow. Sharptail and sage grouse, I don't worry much about, as they are more native than we are.
Folks like myself that hunt, often tout that the hatch is more important than winter mortality numbers. Sure, the hatch can make or break a hunting season. However, if the birds are dead in a March blizzard, their nests in May don't exist.
So, I completed the mission on this long, lunch-break from work. I carried the Home Covey a bag of food and spread it on the only bare knob on which they like to sit and scratch grit from. It may be without benefit, it probably wouldn't sit will with Montana Fish and Game. Feeding wildlife is frowned upon, but I had to do something. Let's hope there are 7 Huns remaining when this long winter finally comes to an end.

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