Saturday, January 16, 2010

Therapy by tautology - a draft

Forced myself up the mountain this morning to hunt familiar coverts. I sought therapy from an imbalance between career focus and the remainder of life's meanings.

Forty degrees and three inches of melting snow, sun just cresting the ridge top. Grouse flushed to my right even before we left the car. We found the terminus of the bird's tracks, dog wild with fresh scent. Off we trudged, through pine stand, bar berry thicket and witch hazel meadow.

I followed grouse tracks, none as fresh as the ones we first encountered. An old compulsion, my zen quest. The dog, olympic marathoner, was also drawn to the old tracks, crossing them but never anchored to them as was I. Several points but no birds.

We crossed fresh porcupine tracks in the snow. Sweat, snow, thick cover.

Finally, fresh grouse tracks. Dog locked in point. Nothing. Dog relocated, then moving in slow motion, thick scent slowing her to a creep.

The fresh tracks continued, intermittent but persistent. An uhurried bird, flying 10 feet then walking. We circled the enormous covert, following a single set of fresh tracks it seemed. The hunt drew us back toward the car. A final point. I swung around, wide, only to find the spot where a grouse had flushed, two hours prior, and a stressed out hunter and dog had investigated its terminal sign.

Successful hunt

4 comments:

Path Walker said...

Nice story Pete. Pup needs a few bumps to calibrate the nose. Snow fools many a dogge, especially when the birds aren't abundant. The snow seems to hold bird scent (any scent) too well, and when it's deep most of the grouse are in the trees -- much harder game than pheasants or quail in the snow.

david said...

"much harder game than pheasants or quail in the snow". Much harder game period....lol. Keep the content flowing, you guys do a nice job! easy on the hot spotting though...hahaha

Jim Tantillo said...

Uncle Pete, sounds like what you guys need down there in Penn's Valley is a new regional RGS biologist like the one we just got up here in NY.

heh heh

Dr. Dirt said...

Happy to host any grouser down here in Pennsyltucky. Bird season is, of course, closed, but the numbers were low again this year, particularly in comparison with last year. Cagey has promised to come down for opening day of deer season, intent to pop Mobey with his dry reisling (drilling). Andy may make a trip down to for a quick stop at Lion Country Supply. Anyone interested in the pursuit of rock fish (stripers) on the Susquehanna Flats this spring?