Let’s get this season going…

 

Best time of year
Best time of year

October’s here — finally. And even though Maine’s state biologists predict a mediocre grouse season and the foliage colors are sure to be muted, I’m looking forward to the fall.

I’ll be hunting the last two weeks of the month for sure, and then any other days & weekends I can fit in.

After a disappointing 2015, I’m shifting away from central Maine. There are birds there, but I’m having a harder time finding them. I also have less free time to look for them, too. And when you have limited time to hunt, one birdless day’s is a big deal — and not something I want to experience again.

Anyway, here are some pics of hunts and memories from seasons past. I hope you enjoy them.

A good day. The gun is a 16g Heym O/U, made in the 1920s...
A good day. The gun is a 16g Heym O/U, made in the 1920s…
Poplars in the AM sun
Poplars in the AM sun
Puck pointing a grouse at the objective
Success! Puck pointing a grouse at the objective.
Pure Puck
Pure Puck
Point! Now what do you do?
Puck, back in her prime

Journey to the Northwoods: A great look at grouse hunting …

There’s killing and there’s hunting: One takes a life, the other makes our lives more  meaningful, while giving us the opportunity to show respect and admiration for the game we pursue and the world we all inhabit.

This video does a nice job of capturing hunting and what makes it so special.

Finally, our season begins …

Lexi last winter, before the snow
Lexi last winter, before the snow

If you live to hunt grouse & woodcock (like me), the first two weekends of October are horrible teases. I always high hope for them, but I never have an equal amount of luck. For me, the upland season doesn’t really get started until the last two weeks of the month. And today was the first day of those last weeks.

Lexi and I hit a few covers in central Maine today. We found a 7-8 woodcock and, surprisingly, a bunch of grouse — in one spot, 5 in about 15 minutes. Three of those grouse flushed wild out of an apple tree. In this video, you can see moments leading up to the wild flush. Look at that tail! Even though Lexi’s pointing old scent, she’s pretty thrilled. The birds must have been on the ground, and then hopped into the tree when we got close.

Lets take a trip to the high prairies…

High Prairie Outfitters offers world-class wingshooting in Saskatchewan. Check out his video to see some great footage of their sharptail grouse and hungarian partridge hunting.

High Prairie Outfitters Upland Bird Hunts from Dan Wennerlind on Vimeo.

A great time at Grey’s…

Grey's Outfitting
Grey’s Outfitting

Puck and I spent last Saturday up in Maine with Grey’s Outfitters. We had a great time and we moved 12-14 grouse in all. Unfortunately, I’m a lousy shot, so no birds to take home.

Below are two quick videos from the day. The English Pointer is a young male named Rock.

Montana. I sure am missing it…

In my mind, heaven would be spending every autumn chasing birds. You would start in Saskatchewan and head south, and you would defintely spend a lot of time in Montana.

I’ve hunted out in Montana a couple of times. The last one was a few years ago – maybe 5+ now – and we were in the northeast corner above the Hi Line. The experience was fantastic — lots of wild birds, very few hunters, and quiet little towns (this was before the oil boom). I really miss it.

Until I make it back there, I’ll have to live vicariously through videos like this from the folks at PRO Outfitters. Just press PLAY to join the journey.

Seven days until it begins…

October is almost here, and so is the best time of the whole ‘friggin year: hunting season. Here’s a little of what I’m looking forward to:

I hope to be a better shot this year.
I hope to be a better shot this year.
I'm hoping to see lots of grouse
I’m hoping to see lots of grouse
And plenty of Fall colors...
And plenty of Fall colors…
I'm hoping for the sights that make October so special...
I’m hoping for the sights that make October so special…

And that stick haunt me throughout the rest of the year.
And that haunt me throughout the rest of the year.
That Puck finds plenty of birds
That Puck finds plenty of birds
That Puck runs hard
That Puck runs hard
And that we'll have plenty of this to our selves.
And that we’ll have plenty of this to our selves.

 

That’s one quick grouse…..

If you’ve ever hunted ruffed grouse, you know just how fast these birds can be – at least when they’re flying. What you may not know, and what I never realized, is just how fast grouse are on their feet.

This quick video shows just how quick these birds can be. In it you’ll see roosting grouse. Grouse do this after they fill their crops with food. A bit off the ground, and with his back in against the brush, this grouse is tough to see. Predators would have a difficult time approaching him without being noticed.

Watch to see how reluctant this bird is to move and give up his location. But once he realizes he’s in trouble, it’s amazing how fast he moves. It’s also interesting that he doesn’t fly off. It makes me wonder how many times they’ve simply run away from my dog when she goes on point.

One woodcock + One grouse = A Good Day….

The woodcock are officially back in Maine. Puck pointed our first one of 2012 yesterday. I thought we would find more of them, but they just weren’t around. It is a little early, though. Puck also pointed a grouse. Overall, it was nice day. Enjoy the pics.

Puck, looking majestic
Puck, looking majestic

 

Puck, enjoying a spring day
Puck, enjoying a spring day

 

Puck pointing a woodcock
Puck pointing a woodcock

Quick video on Ruffed Grouse habitat…

Here’s a quick little video that shows Ann Jandernoa of Northwind Enterprises explaining some things to look for when you’re trying to find grouse.

Ann is a grouse wizard. Puck and I hunted with her in the fall of ’04 and she really knows her stuff. If you want to learn more about grouse, grouse hunting, a great dogs, I suggest getting touch with her.

Favorite winter time foods for Ruffed Grouse…

I was doing a bit more research into winter time grouse foods when I came across this: Winter Food Habitats of Ruffed Grouse in Young Aspen Stands. This paper is based on finding from a 1972-1973 study of 10-15 year old clear cuts in Oneida County, Minnesota.

The researchers found that the top ruffed grouse foods were Aspen bud and Hazel catkins. The grouse also were also feeding heavily on a species of ferns, as well as on wintergreen and goldenthread.

Breed of the Week: The Pachón Navarro

The Pachón Navarro, a Spanish pointing dog
Double-barrel nose on a Pachón Navarro

I’m interested in side by sides — that’s pretty obvious. So when I came across the Pachón Navarros, a  Spanish pointing dog with a double barrel nose, I was intrigued.

According to Craig Koshyk’s Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals, the Pachón Navarros trace back to the very first sporting breeds to appear around the Pyrenees Mountains, way back in the 13th century. The dogs almost disappeared in the early 20th century, but today a growing group of hunters and enthusiasts are rebuilding the breed.

You can go hear to read more about Pachón Navarros. And for the full story, along with tons of great info on a lot more hunting dogs, pick up a copy of Pointing Dogs, Volume One: The Continentals today.

The Pachón Navarro
A Pachón Navarro in the field

Ghost grouse…

Happy 2012.

Well, another upland season has come to an end for me and Puck – our seventh season together. December was a good to us. We saw quite a few grouse each time we went out. Our last time out hunting was the day after Christmas. The weather was in the mid-30s and there was 2″ – 3″ of snow in my covers – not too much to put the birds off of feeding on the ground. We hit a couple spots and got into 6-8 birds.

But while the birds were there, they weren’t holding for points. I think some were on the ground and others were roosting/feeding right off the ground. Either way, they all flushed well before I made it to Puck. Here are some shots from the day. Enjoy.

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