|Tina With Her First Two Grouse For 2012 - Tower MN|
I arrived home from my work trip at 10pm on Friday night and was on the road by 7am Saturday so that I could pick up Tina at the trainer. She had been at the kennel for a month so that they could road her while I was gone. Having your dog not get any exercise for three weeks right before the start of the season is not the best way to set yourself up for success. She was lean and mean. She had lost four lbs overall. I’m sure she lost more fat than that and put on some muscle as she was looking ripped. They shaved her so that helped the look also.
I picked up my dad in Ely and dropped back down to the Tower area. We have hunted a few spots in this area on and off for 10 years. We started at a set of trails that has gone from being prime cover to being on the old side of productive. There has been some new clear cutting in the area so hopefully we will see a rebound in the future. Tina and I started on a trail that heads downhill to some low areas. With it being so dry this year I thought that the birds might be lower where there might be some dampness. About 5 minutes into the trail we came across some blowdowns which isn’t all that unusual in the area except that there usually is a group of deer hunters that have stands at the bottom of the trail and they tend to keep the trails open. Perhaps they have given up on the area. I’ve been seeing fewer deer and more wolves each year...
As we got to the fist set of blowdowns Tina was working off to the left and her bell went silent and the beeper came on. Once I got an approximate location I turned off the beeper and headed into the woods. Not much of the cover had come down yet so it was tough to get to her point and the grouse didn’t stick around for me. Still, getting the first flush 10 min into the hunt isn’t too bad.
We continued down the trail and in just a few minutes Tina went back on point. She was pointing right in the middle of the trail. As I approached two birds flushed too low to get off a safe shot and by the time they rose they were headed into the cover. While I enjoy seeing birds it is nice to be able to reward the dog and myself by getting to take a shot once in a while. Luckily the next bird wasn’t quite as skilled with its escape. Tina made a nice point and the grouse held its spot long enough for me to make a decent approach and was able to finish the job with a single shot. At the shot another grouse got up a bit deeper into the cover but I was unable to get off a shot.
A bit farther down the trail a grouse got me in the classic I’ll wait until he is climbing over the blowdown before I flush maneuver. Tina held point but the bird was trickier than either of us.
We made it to the end of the trail but didn’t end up seeing any birds in the damper areas like I thought we would.
On the way back to the truck Tina made a wide cast and I was day dreaming when a grouse flushed as I walked past it on the trail. The flush gave my heart a jump start but I was able to swing around and get off three shots. This ended up being one of the very few times that I have hit a bird after the second shot. Usually the third shot just ends up being a wasted shot but this time I think it took me until the third shot to collect myself and actually concentrate on the shot.
In under two hours we saw seven birds and got two. One advantage to having the blowdowns is that a fair number of hunters used to road hunt that small stretch and now it isn’t getting as much pressure.
We loaded up and headed to another spot. We hunted this spot right before Christmas last year and about five minutes into our hunt a wolf came right up the trail towards us. I shouted at it and it left the trail but I thought it best to pull the plug on hunting that spot for that day.
We ended up only getting one point along this trail but a bow hunter that we saw said that he had been seeing grouse in the area so I’m sure we will continue to try it.