2019 Himalayan Snowcock Hunt

Preparation

Prep for this year’s trip was easy. I used the same outfitter and packed from the same packing list as last year’s hunt. I’m out for revenge!

The flights from Austin, TX to Elko, NV we easy and predictable. I learned from last year’s extra luggage charges to pack differently and it worked! My single large bag weighed 57# and I had a little backpack inside it to pack the overage. They didn’t charge me for the extra bag to unload the heavy bag. Remember that!

I unloaded and repacked my gear into 2 smaller bags of 30# each to load onto the mules the next day.

I spent a few hours walking around Elko, NV to kill time. It was a booming place at one point but most of the old casinos and motor hotels are losing their luster.

Day 0 – 9/3/19 – Packing Up and In

The trip from the park entrance at Lamoille Canyon back to Furlong Canyon takes about 3 hours and crosses over 2 passes.

We had 7 horses and 1 mule. We rode 3 and used 5 for packing equipment.

Mules are special beasts…

A large range fire blocked our exit last year and this is the result.

Every step they take is one I don’t have to take myself!

There was quite a bit of snow left on the ground. Mitch, the outfitter, said it had only cleared in the passes in the past few weeks. This is the first mountain pass to cross.

The second mountain pass we crossed.

Furlong Canyon and home for the next 5 days.

Fresh water whenever you need it. It was delicious!

A brief 12 minute video tour of Furlong and Mahogany Canyons where we camped.

Day 1 – 9/4/19 – The First Big Loop

A big loop checking for snow cocks from the top rims of the canyons.

Looking down from Wines Peak on Furlong Lake near camp.

Me, high AF.

There was a lot of snow on the peaks. Nasty old dirty crusty snow.

Incoming rain storms are always equal measures of mesmerizing and anxiety inducing.

Day 2 – 9/5/19 – The Chase!

The Chicken Chasing Loop

We heard a Snowcock above our camp right after breakfast. He’s there but you can’t see him. Neither could I for about 15 minutes!

Garrett stayed in camp to watch the snowcock through a spotting scope while Mitch and I went after him.

We’d sneak up the cliff trying to get near him when he was eating. Garrett would tell us via radio when he was watching us and we’d stop until he went back to eat.

He’s up there and you still can’t see him. Neither could I.

The last 100 yards were uphill at 60 degrees.

We got right underneath him and he took off. I fired a long shot but didn’t connect. He flew a couple hundred yards and landed. This is what it looked like as I was resting for the next leg.

He’s over there on that bald knob. You can’t see him and neither could I.

On that knob.

Just as we were leaving a small rain shower blessed us with a rainbow for luck. Didn’t work.

We went up this rock slide in pursuit of the snowcock.

Size perspective on that rock slide. They are better going down than up, but not much.

He’s on that knob.

And he busted us and took off for the next canyon. Too far to pursue.

Furlong Lake again. We’ve circled the upper rim of Furlong Canyon above camp.

These are the ridges where he lives and we chase him.

They’re here for sure – that’s snowcock poop.

Fresh Snowcock poop in detail.

We need to hustle back to camp before this storm. More anxiety than mesmer this time!

That doesn’t look hard but those rocks are the size of footballs and larger.

We beat the rain back to camp and were rewarded with some very cool clouds rolling over the canyon rim.

Looking back on the cliffs I just climbed.

Drone pic with ski map style trail marked.

Day 3 – 9/6/2019 – Another Big Loop

Another big loop checking the rims.

This cold brand was on the mustang. I have no idea and neither did Mitch or Garrett.

Scoping the canyon rims and faces for Snowcocks. The constant amazing scenery never loses it’s beauty.

No, that’s right. We even hiked over and looked in there!

And there too.

Clouds played around the mountain tops and ridges all morning long.

Sunshine breaks through and now we can really get to where we can see!

Rainstorm and clear skis roll over us.

Blue grouse poop. We saw several but I shot one last year. This mass must be from a winter nest. The snow cleared from the passes only within the past few weeks.

Our riding and packhorse herd (and mule) resting in the waning evening light.

Our camp and tent with my favorite rockslide in the background. I went up that thing!

Long evening light in Furlong Canyon.

Day 4 – 9/7/19 – Going the Distance

We tried to cover as much ground as possible on this last day. You can tell!

It was an early start into a pick dawn.

A quick look around on top as the sun rises through the clouds to warm us up.

The backside of Furlong Canyon. That snowbank is over 40′ deep at the top!

The sun trying it’s hardest to warm us.

Mountain Goats! I’m above the damn Mountain Goats!

Scouting the rims and faces while waiting for the sun to hit.

A precarious footpath we shared with the Mountain Goats.

More Mountain Goat trails!

Mountain Goat “nests” where they spend the night.

Every step he takes is one I don’t have to. God Bless him!

Feathers and poop. That’s what I got.

Day 5 – 9/8/19 Up & Out

A new way for the clouds to play with the mountains!

Over the first pass.

Bluebonnets! A reminder of home for a Texas Boy! They call them Lupines.

Indian Paintbrushes! They call them properly up here.

And that’s it. It was disappointing to fail again – especially seeing one and missing because of a bad strategy. My fault and lesson learned. Overall though, what a magnificent adventure and I’m pleased that I gave it another try. I hope these notes will help the next guy or girl go get their’s! The Himalayan Snowcock is a very worthy pursuit!

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