There is definitely a learning curve anytime you try and hunt a new species in a new area. No amount of research or reading can truly prepare you the same as having boots on the ground. Of course all the ground in the Rubys points uphill.
With Snowcock you hear tales of hunters rounding a corner on an established trail yards from the car, shooting a double and returning to the house in time for brunch. I say hogwash. If that has ever happened I want photo evidence, a sworn affidavit, an official inquiry, a witness — any or all of the above.
The highest elevation you can get a vehicle in the Rubys is 8,800 feet at the Lamoille Canyon parking lot. That is easily 1,000 feet below where I have seen Snowcock sign over the last two weeks of hiking. Why would a group of birds that has all they need to thrive at altitude drop down out of the stratosphere for a visit. The answer is they don’t.
Obviously I don’t have the whole game figured out just yet. You have not seen me with one of these birds in hand and I can guarantee there will be hundreds of photos if I am ever so fortunate. But I have managed to solve some substantial pieces of the Snowcock mystery.
Tomorrow morning I’ll put all that I’ve learned over the last two weeks to work. Based on what I brought, how I trained and what I’ve seen it will be the last best chance for me to shoot one of these birds this year. If it doesn’t all come together then I’ll adjust my approach and continue the lessons on a future trip. Either way it has been an amazing hunt.