Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Quiet Start to the Late Season

I've been out several times in the late season but have yet to see a grouse. I spent a morning in the Squatters Covert, a cover filled with every kind of brier know to man. It has a few nice paths running through it probably made by deer hunters wanting to reach their stands on the ridge above the cut. Who ever made them did a good job and I can hunt sections of the cut that otherwise would be too thick to get through.

I arrived at Brandon's covet late in the afternoon. It's a huge clearcut surrounded by deer fencing that I had never hunted before. With the wind and snow blowing I decided against entering the fencing and hunted just outside the fence through some old pines and autumn olive that looked like it could hold a grouse. Emma gave me one point that proved to be empty but had my heart pounding never the less.

Yesterday I hunted the Hog Farms covert. A 10,000+ acre gameland that I have hunted for nearly 30 years. Sadly the game commission has cleared some large areas of multifora rose and autumn olive that they view as invasive but I had always moved grouse in these areas, often times never getting a shot but never the less it provided cover for the birds. Now this area is mowed clean and the surrounding terrain doesn't provide enough cover to hold the birds. I tried hunting along the rocky mountainside that in years past had provided some action but yesterday that birds weren't there.

 I came to one of two old orchards on this mountainside and marveled at the size of the old apple trees. They are probably 100 years old or more and I couldn't help wondering about the farmer who took the time and effort to plant these trees on this rock strewn mountainside. Did he realize that these trees, probably 3 or 4 foot tall whips at planting time, would one day grow into 35 foot giants and still be producing apples long after all traces of his hardscrabble farm had disappeared.

As I worked my way down the mountainside to a gameland access road my gps showed my truck to be 1.4 miles away and I felt a twinge of melancholy as I thought of all the good hunts that the Hog Farms had given me over the years and  wondered if  there would be any more memories to be made on this rugged mountainside.