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Grouse Hunt 2011 (pics)


MikeP
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This was one of the best days I'll probably ever have bird hunting. Growing up in north jersey I used walk out the back door and spend the day wandering around the woods with my beagle. Some of my most exciting memories were chasing grouse in the cedars. I really missed that kind of hunting and in 2009 an old friend asked if I wanted go to NY and grouse hunt some of the areas we did as kids with my grandfather and his dad. Five minutes out of the truck in the first cover 3 grouse busted out of an overgrown hedgerow and I was hooked!

 

I basically spend the first couple of weekends of October getting the dog and I in shape. This was the third weekend, the weather was perfect and I knew we were entering prime time. My plan was to leave the house by 10am Friday morning and get a solid afternoon hunt in. I got hung up with work and by the time I got up there we only had time for a quick 20 minute hunt. I wait for this weekend all year and I was pissed about getting up there so late. I sucked down a couple of glasses of scotch to calm me down and watched last light fade away.

 

Saturday morning I wanted to see if the woodcock flights were in so I hit a spot where I've flushed a few grouse but really got into the woodcock. The woodcock weren't there but Frank was working on the top edge of the clear cut about 200 yards away. This particular cut is nasty thick and had a lot of slash left in it. I really didn't want to climb through it going uphill but Frank wasn't coming back to check-in so I knew he was on birds. It took me a few minutes to get to up there and when I got about 20 yards from him a grouse busted out from under a wild apple tree. I snapped a quick shot just as the bird was going out of site. I thought I might have hit it but the bird kept going. A few seconds later another grouse flushed from under the same tree and then another and another and another. I stood there with my jaw open as they all flew out the other side of the tree and directly away from me not even giving me a chance for a hail mary.

 

I decided to continue working the top edge of the cut in the direction the 4 birds went but Frank took off in the direction of the bird I'd shot at. I said screw it and headed towards the 4 birds figuring Frank will catch up once he figures out I'm not following him. About 5 minutes later I realize he's not coming with me so I turned around and headed in his direction. I had only taken a few steps and I saw him coming towards me with the grouse I'd shot at in his mouth. I was pumped! Sometimes you gotta remember to "always trust the dog".

 

We worked the edge of the cut for about 1/2 mile, through an aspen swamp and then hooked back through the alders alongside a beaver pond. We came out of there 2 hours later ripped to shreds but with a limit of 4 grouse. Another 1/2 hour in some different cover and we managed to find a couple of woodcock.

 

The next morning I decided to try some new cover I'd found on a map. When I first pulled up to the cover I thought it didn't look very good but after a 1/2 hour Frank locked up on a woodcock. The place was full of them and I had my limit in no time.

 

A weekend to remember for sure.

 

r point thick 2 B.jpg

r retreive 1 B.jpg

r fan 2 B.jpg

R point swamp B.jpg

r frank woodcock (3) B.jpg

r crop (3) B.jpg

r fan 1 (2) B.jpg

r birds (3) B.jpg

scotch.jpg

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Great story. I fell in love with ruffed grouse when I was 10 years old. It was Saturday of 6 Day in 1975 and my Dad and I were tracking a lone deer track through the woods of West Milford near our home. We stopped near a ridge before peeking over in case the deer was nearby when a grouse blasted out of the snow not more than a foot away from me. I nearly had a heart attack on the spot and had no idea what had just happened. My Dad fell down laughing.

 

I've been obsessed with grouse and later with woodcock ever since. I hunt them heavily in the fall at my PA camp in Potter where we have awesome cover and plenty of birds, even in "down" years. My Brittanies love grouse and woodcock although right now I just have one dog. Great story, thanks for sharing!

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