Saturday, January 18, 2014

The End of Season is Drawing Near

With one week left in the late grouse season and bitter cold weather in the forecast my grouse hunting just may be over for the year. I didn't fire a shot at a grouse this year due to several factors, the plummeting grouse numbers in my southcentral Pa coverts, my Emma who I haven't been able to provide with enough grouse contacts to let her develop into a grouse dog, and old age who is  making the ridges steeper, the leaves and loose rock slipperier, and the logs just a little higher to step across. But I don't want to sound negative for I enjoyed every moment spent afield with Emma so here are some pics of my latest wanderings.

I hunted along the side of Ragged Mountain last week through blackberry canes and downed trees hoping to find a grouse but with no success.

Thursday I tried some new cover on Sidling Hill Mountain. The first cover didn't look too promising but the second one along Ross Trail showed some promise. A couple of pics of some American Chestnut saplings, one showing sign of the blight that destroyed the mighty trees and one of some nice looking saplings too young yet to get the blight.

Some live long enough to bear nuts for a few years before the succumb to the blight.
I walked into a grouse in this cover and will be returning to wander through again.

Friday I traveled north to my Church Hill Covert. It's an old strip mine with birch, spruce and patches of aspen reclaiming the torn up landscape.

It has a steep ridge that is covered with grapevines & multiflora rose. Emma and I hunted it hard but couldn't find any birds there.

On top of the ridge is a thin clearcut grown back mostly in blackberry canes and striped maple. We made a last push through this cover as we headed back for the truck.  Just before the cover gave way to open fields Emma when on point. As I hurried toward her I saw her relocate and go on point again and guessed that it was a rabbit, for a grouse would never have sit still for that. Suddenly  I drew within gun range a grouse flushed low and away with no chance for a shot, but a smile spread across my face as I congratulated Emma on a job well done.
Back at the truck I tell Emma what a good girl she is and just how much I love her.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Late Season Wanderings


Emma and I have been out several times since my last posting. Although no shots were fired I have moved several grouse, just enough to keep me hoping for a point and chance to shoot. A couple of pics of the Perrin Rd covert. I try to hunt this cover once a year for a number of years now, and in it's younger years it looked to be great cover but I've never moved a grouse in it.  Why I don't know. It's starting to thin out now and I'll probably cross it off my list of coverts.

These next pics are of a new covert that I just found this year. Christened the Heifer Lick covert for the trail that runs through it. It's another cover that looks promising. On our second visit Emma whet on point. I walked in with hammers back and heart pounding only to flush a rabbit :(.  I had to laugh out loud after my nerves calmed down and couldn't bring myself to blame Emma for she hasn't smelled much bird scent lately.

This is the Bennett Cemetery covert, another new cover. I moved two birds, one from under a dead multiflora rosebush and one out of a tree. I was surprised by the large amount of aspen trees in this cover. It's completely surrounded by large white pines and in all the years that I've hunted in this area I've never noticed aspen trees growing here.

Last Thursday the forecast was for bitter temps for Fri & Sat. We had some snow showers in the morning but at noon when I looked at the radar on the Weather Channel it showed a break in the snow for several hours, so Emma and I headed out. We went this time to my Ragged Mt. covert, a fairly young clearcut encircled with deer fence with a gate that you could gain access through. We didn't move any birds maybe the cover is just a little too young yet or maybe because the cover is so thick with briers that you can't hunt much of it yet.

 The snow kept falling steadily was we much for radar :).

Back at the truck Emma shows just how wicked this cover is with it's greenbrier tangles and blackberry thickets.
A bit of Farnam's Wonder Dust and I had the torn ear's bleeding under control. As I headed home it appeared that I was the only person out in these mountains on this cold blustery day and I felt sorry for all the people who had missed the opportunity to be out and about in this wintery wonderland.