Lamoille Canyon, in the Ruby Mountains, near Elko, Nevada, is home to the elusive Ruby Mountain Himalayan Snowcock (tetraogallus himalayensis). As a chukar hunter, Larry hoped to hike into the Rubys and spot a snowcock. Chukars and snowcocks are chicken-like game birds native to the Himalayas. Both were introduced to desert canyons in the western U.S. beginning in the 30s (chukars) and 60s (snowcocks). Chukars are difficult to hunt because they live in rocky, steep, arid canyons. If chukars are challenging, snowcocks are impossible. Living on cliffs and ledges at elevations up to 11,000′, they fly off at the first sign of visitors. Good luck catching up to them.
For more information on the Ruby Mountain Himalayan Snowcock, check out this great website. You’ll find photos, a recording of a snowcock alarm call, and a short list of snowcock sightings beginning in 2001. Apparently they’re hard to find.
And if you’re interested in chukar hunting, here’s a great blog written by a guy in Idaho: http://chukarhunting.net/
Lamoille Canyon is a beautiful drive on a paved road, winding about 10 miles into the heart of the Ruby Mountains.
We hiked the northern 3 miles of the Ruby Crest Trail, hoping to spot a Himalayan snowcock.
We found cool rocks, but no birds.
We found beaver dams, but no birds.
We found alpine lakes for future fishing, but no birds.
We found steep icy slopes where the birds should be . . . but no birds.
We found gorgeous scenery, but no birds.
At the end of the hike, Larry had one final thought for his cousin Gary:
In this secret spot, there are three snowcocks right about here . . .