We left the lodge mid-day with a bright sun shinning overhead. The snowmachines took us around look out mountain, over the Iditarod trail and past half-way lake to the Happy River. From there we made a right turn and headed up 3 mile creek. The river valley was full of willow trees which serve as both food and shelter for the willow ptarmigan, a small, white mostly ground dwelling bird and the objective of our hunt.
Once we located some birds, we stopped our machines, and used them as a base to rest our rifles.
It was tough for Remington to wait for us to shoot before he ran out to grab the birds.
Success! It is amazing but I actually managed to breath slow enough, hold the gun steady, take careful aim and hit one of the many birds hiding in the willow brush.
As soon as the bird hit the ground, Remington was at attention and when Steve gave the word he was off. It took him a few minutes to find it and then it took a few more minutes for us to convince him to bring it back, but in the end he brought it to us.
When shots were not ringing out across the valley, it was a beautiful day to be in the mountains. It was so warm I even had to remove layers. Days in the 20s with no wind and bright sun feel almost tropical.
In the above picture Buckey stops for a rare photo op. Most of the time Buckey is difficult to keep up with. At 72 he does not show any sign of slowing down
The spoils of our day. We gutted and cleaned the birds a few miles from the lodge to avoid attracting any big animals to the lodge. We kept the breasts from each bird. Tonight we will marinate them in milk, cut them in strips, then bread and fry them. Their meat is surprisingly dark and tastes more like beef than chicken.