|Tina With Her First Grouse Of 2011|
Friday Sept 23rd 2011
We left the St. Paul, MN area at about 5:25 am and headed north to the Bigfork area for our first hunt of the season. After a stop over in Grand Rapids we started to hunt at about 11 am. There were no vehicles parked at our favorite spot. It soon became apparent why when we started to walk the area as the telltale signs of logging we everywhere. We decided to walk the trails that weren’t being traveled by the logging trucks. Unfortunately the logging was taking place in the areas that produced the most birds last season and not in the older areas that we ended up walking. We didn’t move any birds in the older growth. We got to an area of younger growth that has usually held a bird or two in the past so I was hopeful of some action. Tina didn’t get too birdy until we were almost through the area. As we got close to the end of the cover she became birdy and I could see the grouse holding just up ahead. Two steps towards it and it flushed and after the shot we had the first bird of 2011 in the bag.
The next spot we hunted I call “ the field “. When I showed it to some friends last year they wondered why “field” was part of the name and I told them that when I started to hunt the spot 10 plus years ago it was a clear cut at the end of the trail and that you could see all the way around it. Now it is fairly filled in with different types of growth. Tina and I made our way around the area and were lucky enough to find a grouse on the edge of the cover. After another nice point I was able to add it to my game bag.
On the way back we followed the edge of a beaver pond and got to really solid points on woodcock. I was wonder if they knew that the season hadn’t opened on them yet and that is why they presented me with such nice easy presentations.
After moving to a new location I got out Marge, my 15 year old setter. I was wondering how she would do this season as she has been off a little bit on our walks this summer but after 15 minutes on the trail she was off into the cover. She did pretty well except for where she had to climb over downed logs. I had chosen a trail that I thought would be 45 -60 minutes of walking. We didn’t move any birds on the way out so on they way back I was daydreaming a bit when Marge’s beeper went off. I could here her not too far off in some older growth so I wasn’t too optimistic and didn’t really hurry to her. By the time I got close to her one grouse decided it has waited long enough and flushed off to safety. As I congratulated Marge for the nice point another three more flushed off into the deeper cover. Lesson relearned. Always Trust Your Dog.
We ended up getting two birds for the day and moved a few more. I think I only saw 1/3 the birds that I saw in the same area that I saw last season. The cover is definitely still in full force whereas last season I think we saw the leaves drop two to three weeks early. It was still nice to get out and test the woods.