This past weekend I was able to go up to Ely MN to grouse hunt. I've been going up there for the 2nd weekend of grouse hunting for the past 10 years.
One of the challenges is that we've been hunting the same areas for 10 years now. The spots that were hot 10 years ago are now about 10 years past peak.
On Friday we got out at about 1:30 and it was 70 degrees, sunny, and not much of a breeze. We hit our usual spot. I ended up seeing/hearing 6 birds - shot at 3 and ended up missing all three shots. The cover was thick and I didn't really feel like any of the shots were that doable but I've made tougher. We ended up quiting at about six as the dogs were hot and tired.
Saturday we got out at about 11 am. Cooler at 60 degrees but more humid as the weather was changing. We went back to the old reliable spot one more time. Saw 3 more, shot and missed one more time. As we were pulling out 2 1/2 hours later we saw two separate trucks pulling.
I decided to drive down the main road a little bit further. I ended up seeing a nice looking fire road and decided to try it out. I unloaded Tina, my seven year old English Setter, and started to walk. After walking about 100 yards I could hear a chainsaw just up the trail. We went back loaded up and drove up to the chainsaw area. I stopped and spoke with the two guys cutting wood and they said the trail went a bit farther up and that they had seen some grouse now and then. Drove another 100 yards parked and unloaded Tina again. We went a little ways and got a nice point and proceeded to miss another shot. Five more minutes of walking and another point. Finally I connected. 10 minutes another connection and a miss. We worked out way back to the truck and took turns working Marge and Fergie. Marge had a nice point on a ridge but the bird went straight out in front of her so I didn't get a shot off.
Took a bit of a break for a Snickers and a Dew. Unloaded Tina again and decided to rework the original portion of the trail that we had gotten our birds on. We got another point after a short while and I was able to connect on a double so I felt pretty good about myself. I ended up taking 4 out of the last 5 birds that I shot at. We didn't see any more birds and called it a day at about 6:30.
I think we saw/heard about 16 birds on Saturday between the two spots. I think the numbers are up from last year but not to the crazy numbers that I'd seen 8-10 years ago.