Waiting to heal sucks. A little spill has kept me out of the field since 11/20. I felt good enough last Tuesday to hunt over weekend. Early December is a sketchy time of year for grouse. If the weather holds, the shooting can be great. But if the weather sucks…forget it.
So I kept my eye on the weather all week. On Tuesday – sunny, temps in the high 30s. Perfect. By Thursday, a 70% chance of rain. Shoot. By Friday, wet snow and cold rain, almost 100%. Shit. My Puck hates being cold and wet. It’s almost not worth taking her out in it. I didn’t care though. I had had two long weeks away. Time was ticking on the season and we needed to get back in the field.
Saturday morning, 7am: the skies are gray and we’re heading north. The roads are wet, but no rain. The drizzling rain starts about 30 miles up. Forty minutes later we ‘re rising in elevation and we have wet snow. I hear Puck shift around in her crate. She can probably smell it.
By the time we arrive to meet my buddy Brad we’re looking at pure crap December weather: heavy wet snow, mist, and temps just above freezing. There’s an inch of slush on the ground. Not a grouse day. Weather like this keeps the birds in the trees. You’re better off hunting something else, or drink beer.
So we headed out for some pheasants. My buddy Brad works at Wildwind Kennels in Knox, ME. They release birds in their training fields all summer and fall and there are usually a few sneaking around this time of year, trying to go native.
Puck, Brad and I headed out into the field to see what we could kick up. Puck did the bird finding/pointing, Brad the shooting, and I handled the camera. Puck pointed a few birds and Brad shot a hen and a rooster. On the hen, Puck reminded us of the saying “Always trust your dog.”
After it flushed, Brad put the hen down pretty soundly. I released Puck for the fetch and she ran past where we thought the bird had gone down and started hunting dead about forty yard ahead. I called her back a bunch of times, insisting that the bird was near me. She ran back to her spot, and kept looking. Finally, she pointed again. We walked in and there was the bird, just about dead on the ground. Puck was smarter than me, again.
Heading home, Puck and I hit a few grouse covers. Nothing.