A Project Upland Original Film Presented by BeAlive
The Himalayan Snowcock is considered to be the Holy Grail of the upland birds. In North America they are found only in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada. This journey is more like a goat hunt than a bird hunt, for this rarely seen bird is found at elevations above 10,000 feet. On the tops of those mountains three men converge in this unforgiving land to pursue a dream. Set to achieve the impossible, they grapple with the reality of what they are trying to accomplish.
“When you pursue a bird that is considered the Holy Grail of upland, you are probably going to fail.”
With preparation, persistence, and large doses of physical stamina they struggle to find this elusive bird. Confronted with a harsh and dangerous environment starkly inhospitable to dogs, they are left with the mutual decision to leave their gun dogs at home. Well before the moment of truth, each had to individually consider the ethics of their pursuit. The question of what exactly determines an ethical shot takes center stage as the steep slopes prove impossible to navigate.
This film tackles head-on the question of wingshooting versus shooting a bird on the ground, particularly when it comes to a bird traditionally hunted with rifles overseas. We as upland hunters must often challenge ourselves to open our minds to consider compelling and sometimes complex questions. Although we acknowledge all legal methods of shooting birds, this film brings to light that even the question of what is “sporting” can be challenged.
To take an animal’s life we have initiated a chain of events that calls for us to utilize all available resources to recover our prey. Because of that, shooting a Himalayan Snowcock on the ground became the evident and most logical choice on the sometimes difficult path towards ethics we can live with.
“In the terrain where the Snowcock lives, if you let it fly, and you take that shot, the chances are its going to go 2000 feet down to the bottom of a canyon and you may not retrieve it. There is nothing ethical about shooting a bird you cannot retrieve.”
This story is a path of discovery, challenge, and eventual success in the quest for the Holy Grail of upland birds, the Himalayan Snowcock.
Special thanks to the uplanders who made this film come to life: Matt Hardinge, Travis Warren (UpChukar), and Terry Owens. This is a film by Wil Sensig.
Last modified: November 5, 2018