|Tasha and Tina with our first grouse of 2013
Friday Sept 20th
The weather forecast was for clearing in the afternoon but driving in rain all the way from Forest Lake, Mn to Grand Rapids, Mn wasn’t too encouraging. The clouds started to break as I arrived in Deer River and my mood improved. I met up with my hunting buddy Tony.
We hit an area that I’ve had good luck at for a few years. I put my new setter, Tasha, down to give her a chance to get on some wild birds. Tony went down a different trail to work his two dogs. We worked the area for about and hour and didn’t move any birds. Tasha did get birdy a few times and gave me 2 or 3 unproductive points. Even though we didn’t see anything I was happy with the way she was working the cover. When we got back to the trucks I asked Tony if he had gotten anything as I heard a couple of shots. He said that 3 had flushed wild ahead of him on the trail but that he hadn’t gotten them. As a bonus though one of his dogs did roll in a dead skunk that was on the trail... I’ll be skipping that area this year.
We continued to work our way around the Winnie area and found lots of good looking areas but no birds. It started to drizzle as we hunted the last area and as we were walking out I had two grouse flush from under some pine trees. I didn’t get off any shots but it nice to actually hear something.
Saturday Sept 21st
It was going to be just me and the dogs today as Tony decided to hunt closer to his cabin.
If the lower bird counts were going to be keeping hunters out of the woods this year you wouldn’t know it by how many vehicles were on the forest roads this morning.
We started on the trail that we left off at the previous evening. The cover was wet with the previous evening’s rain. The area had the right cover and we hunted even farther down the trail than the day before. Unlike the day before we didn’t move any birds. We continued hunt some of the areas northwest of Lake Winnie but still were not having any luck. We stopped in Black Duck for a late lunch and decided to head to a different area.
Our next spot was an area the my first dog, Marge, had good luck hunting in her 15th season. I put Tasha down hoping that somehow Marge would have passed some of her mojo to us and that I’d be able to get Tasha her first bird. The area looked even better than before as there had been a new trail cut through some birdy looking cover. Tasha worked the cover well but still we were not able to get a point.
At the last spot I hunted my 11 year old setter, Tina, by herself. One of the reasons that we added Tasha to the family is so that I wouldn’t have to hunt Tina all day long. She would do it if I let her but she does better if I don’t run her into the ground. I also switched guns to my 16ga in the hopes of changing our luck. This area was where we had started yesterday but I decided to enter it from a different point. The path we took was a newer cut path and a bit tougher to follow but it still looked good. About five minutes into the hunt Tina locked up solid. As I moved forward the grouse got up from right in the middle of the trail. It was an easy shot that I actually connected on. It was a young bird. It felt good to finally harvest one. As we moved along the trail she went on point ten minutes later. I could see the bird on the ground about 10 yards into some thick cover. I moved past the bird and then angled into the woods to get the flush. It held longer than I thought it would and when it flushed I lucked out as I was in a spot where I could actually get my gun up and get a shot off. Tina went and stood by the downed bird. She doesn’t always like to retrieve but will usually go to the bird if she sees it fall.
We got two more flushes but no more shots. After returning to the truck I started to feel the effects of getting caught in the cool drizzle from the night before. I fed the dogs back at the motel while I cleaned up and got all of my gear into the truck. I decided to pull the plug a day early. It turned out to be a good move as by the time I got back to the Twin Cities I was coming down with the chills.
When I first started hunting I didn’t like using bells as I don’t care for the extra noise in the woods but this year I’ve been using them a lot more often. I am finding that with a young dog and the thick cover that it just makes it easier to keep track of them and I end up using the beeper a lot less often.