Saturday, January 22, 2011

One Last Chance

Today was the last day of the grouse season here in the Alleghenys. The weathermen were calling for wind and temps in the single digits all day, but as it sometimes happens they missed and by 1:00 the temp had climbed to 20 degrees with a bluebird sky and no wind. I took Emma and hunted the land bordering the Back 40 that had been cut over several years ago. Jim-Bob my nephew had heard grouse drumming in this area this spring and had seen some grouse while putting up a trail cam this fall.
After hunting one side of the cover with no results we circled around along the back side and Emma went on point at this tangle. As I made my way up the slope a grouse rocketed out straight away and into the sun. Elin leapt to my shoulder and I dropped one hammer and then the other..........I wish I could say that the grouse folded but it wasn't to be and I watched it fly away unscathed. I could blame the sun in my eyes or the cataract on my shooting eye that I will have removed next month for the miss but it was no doubt my lack of coordination that gave the grouse the edge it needed to survive another day.

Back at the truck a tired , bloody, but happy Emma poses with Elin.

So ends the 2010-2011 grouse season here in my Alleghenys. No grouse fell to my shots this year, the first time this has happened since I started grouse hunting back in the mid-80's. I should, I guess, be disappointed but as I look back at the past season I smile at the time spent carrying a gun and following a questing setter through these Allegheny Mountains that I love and know that I'll send the next 8 or 9 months dreaming about next season and the days I'll spend wandering through my coverts with my dog and my gun.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A winter walk with Jim-Bob

My nephew Jim-Bob had some rare free time today so we headed into the nearby mountains with the dogs in hopes of finding a grouse. Our destination was a large clearcut that had recently had its deerproof fence removed. With a couple of inches of snow on the ground we could get a clear picture of what wildlife was out and about. We found several sets of grouse tracks with one ending with a set of wing prints in the snow.The cover looked promising, a tangle of briers, saplings and mountain laurel.

Jim-Bob's boy Zeke questing the cover.

Emma on her usual fly-by.
Sadly like my other late season hunts this year we moved no birds. One more Saturday and the season ends for another year.