Showing posts with label Original Content. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Original Content. Show all posts

How To Miss A Ruffed Grouse Shot - Video



I went 0 for 8 on quality shot opportunities this day.

I was able to recover over the next two days but am still missing some easy ones.  The previous couple of weekends I was hitting some of the tougher shots.

Grand Rapids / Deer River MN area.

Ruffed Grouse Hunt - Lake Winnie Winnibigoshish MN - Deer River MN - 10/25/2013

10/25/2013

The pendulum swung the other way today.  I saw lots of birds but could not hit one.

We ended up going to our second choice.  The same pickup has been in our number one choice the past 3 weekends.  The nice thing is that he usually leaves by 2 o’clock so we can park there for late afternoon hunt.

Within 50 yards of leaving the car I saw a grouse flush wild about 20 yards in the woods.  After a short walk we got to a wide spot in the trail and I was thinking "this is such a good looking spot but I’ve never seen a grouse here"  just then Tasha bumped one and it came flying at me.  I missed a shot while it was flying at me and then one while it was flying away.  If the GoPro was working right I should have a good video of “how to miss a grouse”.   A little farther up the trail I saw a bird flush, as we approached the area Tasha went on point.  I figured she was pointing the one that flew.  Again the phrase “ always trust your dog” proved true.  As I was walking up and thinking that there was nothing there any longer up came another bird and another miss was tallied.

On our 90 minute hunt we moved 7 grouse, 3 of which were pointed by Tasha, none of which did I connect on.

I swapped dogs hoping that Tina could turn the tide.  We hunted for 2.5 hrs and moved 9 grouse and one woodcock.  I shot at 3 of the grouse and the woodcock and missed all of them.  At one spot Tina went on point and I saw something run in front of her.  I was thinking it was a rabbit as she likes to point them and we’ve seen a number of them here.  I walked towards her and a grouse got up low and straight in front of her.  I held off of shooting as I didn’t want to hit her.

On our way out we bumped into a couple of hunters.  One of them was wearing the same hat as I was.  It was a for the kennel, Northwoods Bird Dogs that both of my active dogs are out of.  We chatted a bit and one of them was a guide that works out of the same lodge that Jerry, the trainer / breeder, guides out of.  The grouse woods can be a small place sometimes.

We moved to a different parking spot in the same area and I gave Tasha another run.  She got 2 more points and just to keep everything on the same track I didn’t hit either one.  I did have one take off from about 10 feet up a tree.  This is the second week in a row that this has happened.  Neither time did it seem like it was close to roosting time.

5 hours hunting.  19 birds moved.  18 grouse 1 woodcock.  8 shots taken.  No hits.


I’m switching guns and hats tomorrow.  I mean it couldn’t be me that is the issue...

A First Grouse - Grand Rapids MN Ruffed Grouse Hunt October 19th 2013

The First Grouse That I've Taken Over One Of Tasha's Points ( Fergie looking on )










Saturday October 19th 2013

The MEA weekend curse hit in full force today.  I had to go to a 5th spot to find a place that didn’t already have a vehicle parked at it.  I was at the first spot a 9 am.  It took me an hour to find a spot that we could hunt.  I started out with Tasha and we hunted for about an hour but didn’t move a bird.  The cover looked good but it is a pretty obvious place.

Area #2 looked even better but Tina and I didn’t fair any better.  One of the nice things about this spot was that there were a number of areas around it that had been clear cut in the past year or two so it should only get better.  One of the saddest things in grouse hunting is to have a good area that never gets any maintenance and the cover just gets too old to be productive.

The third spot that we hit didn’t look quite as nice but also didn’t look like it had seen as much use.  We hit this spot for an hour and moved one bird but I didn’t get off a shot.

We returned to the spot that we had hoped to start out at and there wasn’t anyone parked there.  I started with Tasha and about 5 min into the trail she went on point and the bird came up before I was ready... arrgg...  We checked the woodcock area and didn’t move anything and then it was on to the longer trail.  About half way out she locked up.  I missed a left to right shot and then a second grouse got up and I finally was able to take one off of her point.  We finished working the trail out and back and I missed two more grouse by the time we got back to the truck.  I was still excited to have gotten a bird from one of her points.

Tina got the call to finish up the day.  After a short period we started to get some sleet and was thinking of bagging it but I figured we could always take a shortcut back to the vehicle if need be.  We were on our way to an area that Tasha and I had not hit and to get there we went by woodcock hollow ( I decided to name it ).  Sure enough Tina went on point.  I swung out wide to come at her from the other side of the cover.  Two steps in to the cover and the woodcock came straight at me.  The dang bird almost flew right into me.  After dodging it I took a shot and missed but was able to connect on the second shot.  We worked an area with pine trees and Tina made another nice point and I was able to connect on an easy shot.

On our way out we ran into a guy from West Virginia.  He had been hunting in the area for two weeks and commented on how many hunters there were.  I told him that with the National Ruffed Grouse Hunt and then MEA weekend he picked two of the busiest weeks to hit the area.  He was leaving the next day for two weeks in SD pheasant hunting.

I went 1/1 on Woodcock but only 2 out of 7 or 8 on grouse.  Still, getting the first one over Tasha made it all ok.

Sunday

We woke to a steady wet snow falling.  We hunted for two hours and only moved one bird.  I did hear some shooting but I decided to pack up and head home early.

Tasha and Tina With Their 2 Grouse and 1 Woodcock




Grand Rapids MN Ruffed Grouse Hunt October 18th 2013

3 Dogs 3 Grouse
Friday October 18th 2013

I am guessing that like most people I like to hunt the weekdays when possible.  I like the feeling of being alone in the woods.  We hit our first spot at about 1 pm.  I was surprised that no one was already parked at the spot when we got there.

I decided to start with Tasha.  I thought that by giving her the first shot at the area that maybe I could take her first grouse over a point.  I was able to take a woodcock that she  had pointed but had not yet connected on a grouse.  She has had a few flash points but nothing real solid yet.

She started to work the cover right away and seemed to be more serious about her approach.  We hit an area that usually produces a woodcock or two but didn’t move anything.  The second stretch is a longer piece of trail.  In this area she seemed to be working a bit slower and not quite as sure of herself.  We reached a split in the trail and as we got about 25 yards from the split Tasha stopped.  I wasn’t sure if she was pointing or just stopping.  I took another step and the grouse flushed.  I wasn’t quick enough to get off a shot but it was nice to see her respond to the scent.  We continued working the trail to the end but didn’t move any more birds.  Unfortunately this is an out an back trail so you end up rehunting the same area.  As we worked our way back Tasha moved farther out into the side areas and really worked a nice pattern most of the way back.

After getting back to the truck and having a bit of a snack I put Tina on the ground.  With Tina I sometimes go on autopilot and just wait until I quit hearing her bell and then the beeper goes off to signal her point.  Just a few minutes after getting back on the trail she went on point.  I moved in and a bird broke right to left and I took a shot.  I wasn’t sure that I had hit it so I was focused on marking the spot when another bird got up and went the opposite direction.  I took a quick poke but the bird kept flying.  We went into the cover looking to see if I had downed the bird or not.  After a bit of searching Tina found the bird.

We hunted some of the area that Tasha and I hadn’t covered but didn’t move any birds so we decided to recheck our favorite trail.  A short way down the trail Tina locked up and I had an easy straight away shot and was able to connect.  Toward the far end of the trail Tina again had a nice point and as I moved in a double got up from the opposite side of the trail.  I was able to spin around and get one of them.

We worked our way back to the truck, loaded up, and headed to the motel and Friday Night Fish Fry.

I was happy with how the dogs worked though I was still hoping to take a grouse over a Tasha point.


I was 3/4 on grouse and 0/1 on woodcock.  I expected to see a few more birds but has been better than I expected after my first few hunts where we saw so few birds.

Roughing it at the motel after the hunt

Deer River - Grand Rapids MN Grouse and Woodcock Hunt Oct 13 2013

4 Grouse and 1 Woodcock

















Sunday October 13th 2013

The dogs and I were back in the Deer River area to try our luck at finding some more grouse.  It had been a long drive the day before to get there.  We had started Saturday by heading up to Willmar, MN to talk with a farm owner about getting access to his land to try some pheasant hunting.  He agreed and we spent just over an hour making a quick pass to see if we could get a rooster.  All the corn was still up and it was starting to rain so we pulled the plug and made the drive to Deer River.

We went to what has become our favorite spot in the area.  There was already an ATV parked in the spot that we like to start out at.  It is a large area so we drove to a secondary parking area.  Tasha got the call to be the first one to hunt.  At 17 months old I am just wanting to get her into birds.  I’m hoping that she will handle them well when she finds them but I won’t get bent out of shape if we get more bumps than points.

After about 5 min she started to get birdy and a grouse broke from the cover.  I fumbled with the safety but didn’t get the shot off.  While I was cursing myself another bird got up and was away before I could get on it... We approached an area that is a bit lower and wetter than the other cover.  Tasha made a nice flash point on a woodcock and I was able to take it on the second shot.  On the way out Tasha bumped another grouse.  I wasn’t upset as we were working with the wind and as soon as she scented it she spun to point and the bird got up.  It was a little bit farther out than I am comfortable shooting so I passed on it.

Our second spot is an area that Marge ( my setter who we put down this spring at 17 1/2 ) had good luck hunting at 16 years old.  It was a shorter trail and she usually was able to get a good point in the first couple of hundred yard or so.  Tina got to hunt this one.  We worked the trail that we normally do but then were able to check out a new cut.  As we hit one spot I was saying to myself “ how can there not be a bird here “ and sure enough Tina locked up and I was able to take it with a single shot.

The third spot is another small area.  This is my third season hunting this area and we have always seen a bird here but have never taken one.  I was hoping that Tasha would break the streak and we could take a bird.  We worked the trail out and then bushwhacked it back.  She moved well through the woods and was working the cover but we didn’t move a bird.

For the last hunt of the day we returned to the first spot and were able to park in the spot that we wanted to start out.  About 20 minutes into the hunt Tina made a nice point a ways into the cover.  As I started to move up towards her the bird came charging out and I made a quick right to left swing and took a shot.  I didn’t see the bird go down but it did look like it maybe bobbed a bit.  We went in and looked around a fair amount and didn’t see anything and as we started to walk out I happened to look down and it was tucked into some brush.  It had gone an amount farther after my shot than I had thought.  As we neared the turnaround on the trail Tina made another nice point and I was able to take it on a straight away shot.

On the way out she made another point and I walked past her a good distance to try to trap the bird between us.  As I walked in Tina held steady but I didn’t move a bird.  As I got right next to her a bird broke a good 25-30 yards behind me.  I hadn’t gone quite far enough up the trail before cutting in.  About 5 minutes later she went on point again so I went even farther up the trail this time hoping to not have a repeat.  I got to within 5 or 6 feet of her and started to think it might be a woodcock holding tight and then right between us was the grouse.  I could have thumped it with my barrel.  I finally got it to flush but didn’t hit it until the second shot.

We ended up taking another grouse on the way out.  It was a nice flush and a easier shot but I’ll take an easy one as I know most are not that way.

For the day we moved 13 grouse and 8 woodcock.  As far as shooting I went 4/6 for grouse but only 1/5 on woodcock.


Another Hunter Beat Us To Some Prime Cover

Two Woodcock Points - Bigfork MN - Video




I was grouse hunting near Bigfork, MN Sept 23, 2011 and was able to capture video of two separate Woodcock points.

It was the Friday before the Woodcock season opened.  It was fun to get a couple of nice solid points on them.


The spot that we hunted has been my best grouse area for the past 15 years but this time we didn’t move a single grouse.  This was the first time that this had happened at this area.


For More Bird Hunting Videos Visit BirdHunterTV.com


Grand Rapids - Deer River MN 2013 Ruffed Grouse Hunt 2nd Weekend

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.

Additional notes:
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.


Tower MN Ruffed Grouse Hunt - 9/22/2012


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.

Bigfork - Deer River MN Grouse and Woodcock Hunt

10/6/2012

Tony, Quetico and a Bigfork MN Grouse


















The weather in the Grand Rapids, Mn area was supposed to be wet snow on Friday so I decided to head up early on Saturday morning.  I met my buddy Tony and his dog Quetico in Deer River and we decided to head up to Bigfork to try an area that we’ve had good luck with in the past.  This area can be entered from two different roads so we thought that we’d try parking one vehicle and then driving to the other side and hunting our way back to the first vehicle.  This way if we got into birds we could always hunt out and back and if the birds were scarce we could bail at the first vehicle, swing back to the second and then head to a new spot.
We put the two dogs on the ground and started down the trail.  It looked to be a good morning for a hunt as there were still spots of snow on the ground.  Within the first 5 minutes we got a wild flush and didn’t get a shot off.  The trail comes to an intersection with two side trails and if you go forward you hit a clear cut that has started to have islands of growth.  It the past few years these islands and the edges of the field have held good numbers of birds.  We worked the area pretty thoroughly and did not move a bird so we headed down one of the side trails towards the parked car.

As we hit the main loop on the lower portion of the trail the dogs started to get more excited.  They started to work an area of newer growth when you could hear them slow their search.  Tony went into the area to check on the search when a grouse got up in front of Quetico ( Tony’s GSP ) and he was able to drop the bird.  We kept moving along the trail to an area that was an awesome hotspot in 2009 and 2010.  There is a large beaver pond along one side and a small pond on the other.  In ’09 and ’10 I’m certain I moved multiple birds in this small area every time that I hit it.  Tina started to get excited first as I’m guessing that she remembered all of the birds that we had seen there in the past.  We were close to the end of this area when the dogs started to tighten up their casts and narrowed their search to some softer ground.  A lone woodcock decided to make its escape and I was able to bring it down and put it into the game bag.

We finished up this trail and decided it wasn’t worth hunting our way back so we loaded up the one vehicle, swung back for Tony’s truck and decided to head to an area close to Deer River that I had excellent hunting a number of times last year.

The dogs worked the cover well but we only moved on woodcock and we didn’t take a shot at it.  I found it odd that we didn’t move any other birds from this area.  As we were leaving I did notice that the cabin across the road had 3 or 4 trucks at it with lots of guys wearing blaze orange and I don’t recall seeing any vehicles at it last year.

Even though we didn’t move a lot of birds it was still a great day to be in the woods with the dogs.

Tina and I with our Bigfork MN Woodcock

Top Secret MN Grouse Hunting Spot Revealed - Grand Rapids Area




















Thursday 10 / 20 / 11

45 degs and Sunny.

I am lucky enough to have a job where I can occasionally skip out for an afternoon and make up my time in the evening.  I decided that today was one of those days as it was cool and sunny.  It has been gray and windy the past few days and I’ve had good luck a few times when I was able to hunt the first sunny day after a few crappy days.

Tina and I started out at a small area that we have seen birds at each time that we have hunted it this year.  We have never gotten a bird here though.  In fact the last time we hunted this spot, three of us moved 4 birds and didn’t put one in the bag.

When we pulled in I could tell that the area had been hit fairly hard in the days since we had last hunted it.  The grass on the trail was much more beat down by people driving in.  We worked the trail out and bushwhacked through the clearcut on the way back and didn’t move a bird.

Off to the second area.  I marked this area “ Don’t Hunt “ as it is mostly older growth and we have only seen one bird there.  I decided to give it a shot again though as it was on the way to the third area and the trails were easy walking for 15 yr old Marge.  After about going 100 yards down the trail she locked up solid.  I started to look around and just as I looked to the right into some saplings the grouse came up and with the shot the grouse came down.  I’m always excited when one of the dogs has a nice point that produces a bird but I am even more so when one of the old timers can have it happen.  We worked the trail for another 40 minutes but didn’t move another bird.  After putting Marge back into her travel kennel I got out Fergie and we went for a stroll.  Even though she is totally blind she still loves to get out and smell the air.  We did a short walk and then returned to the truck.

Our next spot was a MN Hunter Walking Trail.  These trails are well publicized  by the state so they aren’t any big secret but this one has decent habitat diversity and we have seen birds here before.  The hunt started well with Tina going on point less than 100 yards from the truck and and easy straight away shot put the bird into the bag.  The next bird was luckier as Tina had a good point on a corner and it broke down the side of the trail that I hadn’t gotten to yet and I didn’t even get off a shot.

We had started to hunt an area of the trail system that I hadn’t been able to cover yet and I could hear Tina working off to the side in an area of thick pine trees.  I was starting to get a bit impatient as she didn’t really seem to be working the type of cover that had been producing birds when her beeper collar indicated that she was on point.  I made my way into the pine trees but couldn’t see where she was when I heard a flush and saw just a flicker of the bird.  I still couldn’t see or hear Tina when I heard a second flush and was able to get off a snap shot.  I couldn’t see if I had hit the bird or not but I heard a thud letting me know that I had connected.  A third bird flushed but I passed on the shot as I wanted to make sure I had correctly marked down the bird.  As I made my way to the bird I could see Tina holding her point downwind of where the birds had flushed.

As we made our way back to the truck another wild flush from the opposite side of the trail that Tina was working caught me by surprise and I wasn’t able to get off a shot.  I was feeling pretty good about getting three birds already and was daydreaming a bit...

About 25 yards from the truck is an area where two of the trails come together and create a choke point and Tina started to get really birdy but I figured “ how could there be any this close to the truck “.  I was about to find out as she locked on point and I moved up the trail to cut them off by the edge of the trail intersection.  A flush and a hurried shot saw the bird fly off unharmed but the shot sent another bird up and this one wasn’t as lucky and became bird number four in the bag.

There was still and good 90 minutes of daylight left and Tina was still showing good energy so I decided to take a look at the other trail that starts at the parking area.  It started out by going through an area of younger growth but soon changed to older cover.  The trail split and we took the fork to the right after a short time it hit and area of blow down and Tina started to get birdy again.  She was a decent distance through the blowdown and off to my left when the beeper signaled point.  I wasn’t too excited about making my way through all of the logs to get to where she was but she had been pretty good with her points as of late so I thought it would be worth it.  As I started to approach her I was off her right side and could see that the cover was much thinner past where she was pointing.  As I passed her I could see that it was actually the other fork of the trail and as I stepped onto the trail a bird got up from in front of her and I again missed and again I was lucky enough to have a second bird get up and even luckier when I was able to connect and drop it just a little distance up the trail to make for an easy retrieve for Tina.

All five of our birds came from public land and four out of the five came from a well marked Hunter Walking Trail in the Grand Rapids, Mn area.

The Garmin Astro said that Tina covered 7.9 miles in 2 hrs and 17 minutes

If You Want To Hunt It Helps To Bring The F'n Guns... Deer River MN Grouse Hunt

Thursday 10/27/11

Tina With Her Deer River MN Woodcock and Grouse



















When going grouse hunting it usually helps if you bring the f’n guns with.  I had planned on trying out two new ( new to me ) Hunter Walking Trails in the Bowstring area but as I was 40 minutes into our 45 minute drive I realized that I had forgotten to put any guns into the Trailblazer.  I turned around and went back to the cabin, grabbed a gun, and  headed out back to hunt.  Since I had lost 90 minutes of hunting time I decided to head back to my new old reliable walking trail.

Tina got the call as usual.  We made our way past the the first blow down without moving any birds but she started to get real birdy as we approached an area that is blowdowns and a few pine trees mixed in.  She went on point about 20 yards into the blow down and as I tried to pick out a good spot to move towards her a grouse took off another 10 yards past her.  I wasn’t quick enough to get off a shot.

After another 15 minutes of walking we came to an area that was a bit lower and wetter than the surrounding terrain and Tina started to tighten up her range.  She tightened it up to a nice solid point.  I made my way further up the trail and started to cut back to her in hopes of trapping the bird between us.  I got closer and closer and no flush but also no movement from Tina.  I got close enough to start to check out the cover right in front of her and was able to spot the woodcock right in front of her.  One more step and the bird came up.  I held off on the shot as I’m not that big on eating woodcock.  As the day progressed we moved a total of seven woodcock and I ended up taking one to reward Tina for all of her hard work.

Towards the end of the trail we took a smaller trail that loops through a newer area of clear cut as we got to the transition area Tina locked up and was looking off to her left.  I  was looking for a way in when the grouse made its escape from behind a pine tree.  Two steps either direction and I would have had a clear shot but as it was I could only just watch it fly off.

The next bird wasn’t so lucky.  We had turned around and were headed back through a section of small pines when Tina started to move into the cover.  I could hear her making her way through some of the thicker area and then I didn’t hear her moving any longer.  Her point was confirmed by her beeper going off.  I continued up the trail a short distance until I could find a good entry point.  I made it about 15 yards into the cover before I could see that she was still in full point mode.  Just as I pulled even with her the grouse flushed and gave me a right to left passing shot.  I connected but it wasn’t a fatal blow.  Tina gave chase and brought the bird to me.  She doesn’t always do a full retrieve so that fact that she did made it extra special.

On the rest of the walk back to the truck we moved three more grouse and I wasn’t able to connect with any of the birds.  As usual the problem was between the gun and the boots.

Considering that the day started with me making a major blunder I was happy to have moved six grouse and seven woodcock while collecting one of each.

Lake Winnibigoshish ( Winnie ) MN Grouse Hunt

Saturday October 3  2011

Tony and Quetico with Lake Winnie Grouse and Woodcock



















We had been having decent luck with the Hunter Walking Trails so we decided to try a larger one just a little ways from Lake Winnibigoshish ( Winnie ).  I thought that since this area is even a little bit farther from the Mpls area that we would see even fewer hunters.  After seeing trucks at the first two areas that we had planned to hunt it was clear that I wasn’t even close to being right.  
We decided to just drive while the Garmin pointed us to where it said that there were some clear cuts to hunt.  (  I purchased the maps and data files from http://www.northwindenterprises.us/habitat-maps-listing.html ).  

The first spot Tony decided to hunt it with his two dogs.  He wanted them to get a chance to focus on birds and not other hunters and dogs.  He ended up taking two birds from this spot.  The first trail that Mark and I tried ended at a beaver pond so we made a quick trip farther up the road to another trail.  After about 5 minutes on this trail Tina got birdy.  Two birds got up from the left side of the trails.  Mark shot left and I shot right.  Neither one of us connected.  We worked the trail a bit longer and then made our way back to meet up with Tony.

The next area Mark went with Tony as he had had some luck and we had hunted together earlier in the week before Tony arrived.  Marge and I went down another trail that looked promising.  We made it all the way through and area of good looking cover without any action.  I was starting to daydream as we went through and area of older habitat when Marge locked up in the middle of the trail.  I started to scan the area for the most likely location and settled on some scruffy looking cover to the right when out of the more open older area to the left a bird came up.  I was able to connect on a straight up shot and as I fired a second bird launched and I was able to bring that bird down also.  A third bird also flushed but I was making sure I had the first two marked so I didn’t take another shot.  We continued on the trail and didn’t see any other birds.  When I connected with Mark and Tony I found out that they had not any any more success.

The third area we decided to work it together.  A short distance down the trail Quetico went on point and Tony connected on a woodcock.  Quetico had to chase down the bird as it wasn’t too well hit.  He made short work of the chase and soon the bird was in Tony’s game bag.  This woodcock proved to be the trickiest woodcock we’d ever come across as he got out Tony’s game bag two times before Tony decided to finish it off.

A short while later the dogs started to get birdy as we approached a grassy area.  Two birds took off.  The first went up the trail and then banked left no one connected on this bird.  The second bird went to the right and back towards us.  Tony and I both emptied our guns and I saw the bird go down after my third shot.  We marked the bird down and made our way towards it.  I called Tina over and Tony brought Quetico and Stone over.  We looked for a good period of time and I couldn’t find it but Quetico kept working the area and finally found it buried underneath some brush.  Tony said the bird was hard to pull from the brush as it was biting on a stick at the bottom of the pile.  We decided that it was Quetico’s bird since we wouldn’t have recovered it without him.  We worked our way back to the truck without any more action.

Once back at the cabin I prepared a shore lunch style dinner of crappies and walleye that my dad had caught earlier this summer.

15 yr old Marge and I With Her Winnie Grouse Double







Grouse Hunting With The Boys Bigfork and Deer River MN

Friday October 7th 2011

Tina With Deer River, Mn Grouse and Woodcock



















We got a bit of a late start as we decided to make breakfast and eat at the cabin.  We decided to start with an area near Bigfork, MN.  When we arrived at the location there was a pop-up camper parked by the forest road.  This area receives a fair number of hunters but has been decent in the past even when there were other hunters.  Tony unloaded his two GSPs.  Quetico was starting his second hunting season and Stone is now 12 years old.  I started out with Tina.  As we worked down the trail a little Brit came shooting out of the woods.  It’s owner wasn’t too far down the trail, in shorts and a short sleeve shirt.  We guessed he wasn’t doing too much off trail hunting...  He told us that his buddy was by a beaver pond working a one year old GSP.  We later heard a dog yelping quite loudly.  It sounded like the owner had just figured out how to work an ecollar.  From the dog’s response he was creating a future client for an actual dog trainer...

We hit the turnaround with only moving one bird.  This same weekend last year we were moving 20+ birds in the same amount of time on the same trail.  We started to hear some rumbling off in the distance.  We picked up the pace on the way back to the trucks and didn’t move any birds.  We made it to the vehicles just as the rain started.  After lunch and rest at a bar/grill in Big Fork we started to work to the west and south.

We ended up just north of Deer River at an area that I had tried a few times in the past.  With three hunters and three dogs it was clear that we weren’t going to sneak up on any birds.  A short way down the trail Tina started to get birdy and locked up.  I swung up the trail and moved in towards her.  She stayed staunch.  I could see her eyes looking just off to her left and I moved that way.  Up came a woodcock and I decided to try take it as a reward for her hard work.  I missed, but saw where it landed and released Tina and made our way in that direction.  She made another nice point and I didn’t miss this time.

We made it to an area with some younger pine trees and Tina started to work off the trail so I decided to bushwhack it a bit.  Tina was working to the trail and then off to my side.  She started to slow and was getting ready to point when I heard a flush at the same time Mark called out.  The grouse came my way and I was able to connect on a going away shot.  Tina made a nice retrieve.

We ended up back at the truck without moving any more birds.  We decided a totally new area ( new to us anyway ) was in order for the following day.

On the way back Tina either bit her tongue or it got poked by a stick and was bleeding all over her front.  She looked a mess but I think was mostly tired.

Tina All Bloody



















After riding home and getting washed up in the lake she was all set for her dinner and some sleep before the next day.

Ruffed Grouse Hunt Deer River MN - Day Three

Thursday October 6th


Mark With His First Bird Of The Season



















Our friend Mark arrived after lunch and we headed out for the afternoon.  We hit the trail at around three.  It was Mark’s first time out hunting this year.  We were hunting the walking trail that I had hunted a few times earlier.

We had been going about 15 minutes when Tina gave me a solid point.  I was able to connect on a nice crossing shot and put the bird in the bag.  It was still very dry and I was happy to take the bird over a point.

We went down a branch of the trail that I hadn’t been down before and Tina started to get birdy again.  We had a few non-productive points so I wasn’t too sure about the point but when her tail stopped wagging I got more confident.  Mark moved in and was able to connect on his first bird of the season.  A short time later she was on point again.  I made a good sized loop to try to pin the bird.  I kept moving closer and closer but no flush.  I made it to within about five feet before the woodcock flushed.  I took the bird on the flush.  I don’t normally shot woodcock but I wanted to reward Tina for her hard work.

It was staying in the mid-70’s so we started back to the truck.  Tina was still working hard as we made our way back and made a wide cast along a small area of blow down.  As she hit the far side of the area she locked up solid.  I wasn’t too excited about having to make my way through the area as the walking was tough.  I went straight towards her as she appeared to be looking right at me.  I kept waiting for her head to move or for her to break point but she stayed solid and the first thing to move was the grouse.  It took two shots but I was able to bring it down.

We ended up taking three grouse and a woodcock in about 90 minutes hunting on a less than optimal day.  I was very pleased with Tina’s work and happy that we were able to connect on all the birds that we shot at.  It doesn’t always work that way but it did.

Ruffed Grouse Hunt - Deer River, MN Day 2

Tina and Her Deer River Mn Grouse



















October 2nd, 2011

Saturday night was a long night as the dogs had drank so much water during the day that they kept having to go outside.  They woke me up at 11:30, 12:45, 1:30, and 4:30.  After the 4:30 wake up I put their training collars on them and they stayed quite.  Too quite it turned out as I ended up sleeping until 9 am.  That ruled out the longer drive to try some new areas that I had mapped out as it was already starting to get warm out.  so I decided to retry some of the areas from the day before to see if they still looked good.

The first spot that we went to was the walking trail area.  Tina and I started by walking a different section of the trail system.  After 30 minutes she hadn’t really gotten birdy at all we turned around and headed back to the section that we walked on Saturday.  Within 10 minutes she locked up solid and I was able to connect on a nice crossing shot.  We walked a while longer and didn’t move any other birds.

Next it was Marge’s turn to see if the forest road with the older growth would produce another bird.  We worked the trail a fair amount and while she did get a little birdy in a few spots we didn’t have any success actually moving one.  After getting back to the truck I got out Fergie and took her for a walk.  She can’t see but she still loves getting out in the woods and sniffing the air.

Tina and I then took a chance on the first spot that we had hunted yesterday.  The temperature was over 70 so it was a good last spot to try.  We went down the trail next to the clear cut and it still looked promising but it was just so dry it was hard to know if the scenting was decent at all.  We ended up going through the new growth to get back to the truck and she did make a nice point but it was so thick I couldn’t get into a good shooting position when I did flush the grouse.

Even though we cut the day short we did put one bird in the bag, confirmed that two spots were still a good bet, and ruled out another.

Ruffed Grouse Hunt Deer River, MN Day One

Saturday October 1 2011


Typical Cover For The Deer River MN Area




















We left Mpls / St. Paul in the morning and made the three hour drive north.  After stopping at our rented cabin to drop off some gear and supplies we headed to the woods.  I decided to start out by trying some brand new areas to hunt.  I had purchased some maps that were created using Google Earth to show clear cuts and trails.  I loaded the gps info into the Garmin and we were on our way to just north of Deer River, MN.  The first area was two sets of small clear cuts with a small foot trail along one side of them.  As we worked the trail we came to some older growth and moved just a little ways into the new growth and turned back towards the vehicle.  About half way back we got a wild flush and moved towards where it looked like it set down.  Tina was working the scent but we did not make contact again.  It looked like a good enough area and with moving a bird in the 30 minute walk it has made the list to try again.


Spot number two ended up being a forest road that bordered an area that looked to be an older cut over area.  I was skeptical of it’s bird potential but we were there and it looked like easy enough walking for the 15 year old setter Marge.  This turned into and out and back affair but on the way back Marge made a nice point on a young bird and I was able to drop it.  Another 30 minute walk and another bird moved.  This area looked older than I would like but since we got a bird I added it to the try again list. 


Area number three turned out to be a MN Hunter Walking Trail.  There were no other vehicles there and with it hitting 60 degrees we decided to give it a chance.  There ended up being a number of different trails within the system.  We took the trail that looked like it went through the younger looking area.  It was hot and dusty.  The Northern MN area has been pretty dry after a wet and cool spring.  Tina was working a good pattern through the cover and after about 20 minutes and a few non-productive points she had one nailed and I got off a decent shot and connected.  We were able to repeat the pattern on the back side of the loop and collected another one for the game bag.


We made a stab at a fourth new area that also looked good but didn’t move a bird.  It was getting a bit later in the day so we went to our old standby in the Big Fork area.  In the first 40 minutes we moved 10 birds, got off 2 shots and didn’t connect on anything.  In the last 90 minutes we only moved one bird.


All in all it was a good start to the day with three birds in the bag and four new areas to try again.

Ruffed Grouse Hunt - Ely MN September 25th 2011

Tina, Marge, Fergie, and I With Sunday's Grouse Harvest

















Sunday Sept 25th

We actually got rolling a bit earlier this morning than we did yesterday. I dropped my dad off at a new trail that he wanted to try and I went up the road to the spot that we tried for the first time Saturday. There wasn’t much breeze as Tina and I started down the trail, I was curious to see if we would see any birds or if yesterday was a fluke. It took about 15 minutes before she got birdy at all but we didn’t move a bird on the way out. After about 30 minutes we reached the end and turned back. I wasn’t feeling too optimistic at this time. About half way back Tina started to tighten up her quartering and locked solid. I was able to move in and connect on a flush through the brush. We didn’t see anymore birds on the way back to the truck. If we can get a chance at a bird or two each time down this shorter trail I’ll be happy.

I picked up my dad, who hadn’t seen any birds on his walk, and headed to the other short trail that we had hit yesterday. Marge got the call this time and we started off. About 2/3 of the way along the trail she went on point in a small area with thicker cover. It was a strait away shot and I thought I saw the bird go down but wasn’t sure. After looking and not easily seeing anything I got down on my hands and knees and found a couple of batches of feathers. I brought Marge back to the spot and she started to work the trail. After she cut back across the trail I could her the bird trying to make a run for it. Marge was right on her which was a little surprising as she is fairly hard of hearing. After coming back along the forest road we called it quits for this area.

We made another try at our old standby but again were not able to move a bird. We pulled the plug and listened to the Vikings blow a huge half time lead for the third week in a row.

All in all it was a decent weekend. Six birds in the bag, some nice Woodcock points. It was a little disappointing to be moving fewer than 1/2 of the birds that we were seeing last season.

Ruffed Grouse Hunt - Ely MN September 24th 2011

15 Year Old Marge and Her First Grouse Of 2011



















Saturday Sept 24th

We awoke to a foggy morning and started the drive to a new spot that I had found last year.  ( ok, just to be clear that I have never found a “ secret spot” in MN.  All of my grouse hunting is on public land ).  We were lucky and no one else was there.  I dropped my dad off at the turn and then Tina and I got out farther down the road.  We started down the trail and for most of the way she wasn’t getting birdy at all.  Finally in the last 100 yards before we got to the turnaround she started to work some scent.  She went on point along a small strip of pines.  As I moved in the grouse flushed from the back side of the pines and I lucked out as it decided to cut back over the trail and I was able to connect on a nice right to left shot.  We worked the rest of the way back to the vehicle and didn’t move another bird.  On the way back I did hear another shot and was hoping that it was my dad.  I found out that it was in fact him but that he hadn’t connected.

We decided to just drive along the forest road to see if we could find another spot to try.  After a few trails that weren’t long enough to make it worthwhile we did find one that looked like it could be a bit longer.  I unloaded Marge and we made our way down the trail.  As we came over a small rise I could see a beaver pond just to the right.  Just then a grouse was flying up the trail towards us, it flared when it saw Marge and was just out of range.  We looked for it in hopes of getting another opportunity but did not come across it.  Another 10 minutes of walking and Marge started to go into her stealthy stalk mode.  Not exactly classic pointing dog / grouse form but it proved effective as she slid into her point.  As I moved in the bird flushed just behind and to my left.  I made it two for two and the right to left shots.  Not something that happens all that often for me.  

After getting back to the truck we went to a spot that we first started hunting about ten years ago.  The cover has gotten older and the new clear cuts haven’t grown up enough yet but last year it was still productive enough to make it worth a stop.  After getting Fergie her exercise I put Tina back into her beeper and gps collars.  We worked our standard areas for a good our and didn’t move a bird.  I’m hoping that the clear cuts will start to produce some birds in the near future.

We ended up calling it a day around 2 pm as it was starting to warm up a bit and we still had tomorrow to hunt.