Thursday, September 28, 2006

Before too much time passes: grouse report

Cagey and I managed to get out to Tug Hill last Friday 9/22 for a day of grouse hunting. In short we saw a nice number of birds.

We hunted Missy first and left the gimpy setter in the truck for the a.m. The best opportunity of the day came 20 minutes into the first hunt: Missy absolutely nailed a grouse near an old foundation under some spruces and pines and in some thick goldenroddy stuff. On our approach she relocated, nailed it again, and Keith said, "You da man." I started walking in on it when the bird flushed, making an enormous racket that (ahem) threw us both off our game. Honestly, it was like the bird took ten seconds to get up and out of the gnarlies--and then it zoomed right out into the open in front of me at a range of ten feet.

I hurried a shot and missed; bore down on the second shot and missed again. Then Cagey on the wing missed a snap shot as well.

We followed the bird, and on a reflush it flew across a swamp--which we crossed dutifully, but we didn't see that bird again.

Later Missy pointed another couple of birds, one of which was holding right in front of Keith and Missy. Keith calls me over, he's got Missy by the collar, and then he says: "You ready?" Thinking the bird is out front in the woods somewhere, I say "sure." He lets the dog go, and twenty yards away the bird flushes out in the open, a beautiful gray phase, that neither of us shot at. I think my groove was off again. Yeah, that's it.

All told Missy pointed and/or we flushed a total of 6-7 birds, not bad for a two hour hunt. I'd have to say now that in my mind, and for the record and officially yadda yadda yadda, I think Keith has got himself a real grouse dog. I heard him mutter to his wife on the phone later something to the effect of "Missy wasn't perfect today," but hey, Cabin Boy--get over it! no dogge's ever perfect. She did great. I would hunt with her again, and it sure is nice to have a dog that doesn't absolutely drag you through the gnarlies everytime she sniffs a potential bird in the bush.

We returned to the truck, relaxed a bit; then relocated the venue to a spot I knew about near Rectors in Montague. In an hour's hunt Kate pointed 5 or so birds; we didn't see them basically because "it was September." Actually it was kind of balsamy and sprucey where we were. One bird I managed to see just as I was falling backward (and laughing about it) having tripped on a stick walking in on Kate's point. Again, I was off my groove.

Katie took a while to warm up to the running/hunting (first real time running crosscountry since her surgery in May), but once she smelled birds she was like the Kate of old--maybe having lost a half step, but her intensity was there. That was good to see.

Late in the day we tried a trail I'd wanted to explore for some time, but we were skunked there with the Mistress. Who knows where the birds were, it was a decent covert.

Well, that's about that. It's been a busy week, sorry this writeup is tardy. I managed to get up to Tug Hill again on Monday. In three separate one hour hunts, Katie pointed zero, two, and six birds respectively. So numbers are decent. The six birds all were flushed from the same ten acre little micro-covert that I got a bird out of last year, in Boyleston. I'm willing to share GPS coordinates on this one. Especially with Pete, if he ever decides to read this blog and realizes this offer is on the table. heh heh.

Well, that's it. Confessions of a grouse chaser.


KGT said...

Notiiced that last paragraph had no kill stats...more "September?"

Grouse opens round these parts soon, no?

Great write-up. Miss thanks you for the kind words and says she'd hunt with you again too.

KGT said...

I forgot to mention, it was really nice hunting over Kate again, and great to see her recovery coming along so well.