Sunday, October 2, 2016

Big Fork MN Ruffed Grouse Hunt 10/2/2016

Artsy Ruffed Grouse

Sunday was going to be over 70 degrees later in the day so we decided to go for a morning hunt.  The first spot is an area that Tina had good luck with last year.  It is a walkable trail with a variety of cover along the trail and at the end a smaller field that had been clearcut about 20 years ago.  When we first hunted the area we could see all the way across the area with just small islands of trees that they had left in a few spots getting in the way.  Now it is a bit of work to wind your way through it.

We made it to the field without moving a bird but Tina was working well so I was confident that sooner or later she would find something.  She can’t get through the thicker cover so I am sure that we are passing by a few birds but at this point it is about watching her enjoy her time in the woods.  At the field she started to work more intently.  We worked our way around the edge of the old cut and Tina was doing the start stop thing that usually means that there is a bird around.  As we neared the back of the cut she locked up.  I walked around one of the bigger clumps of trees to try to trap it between us.  The bird got up from the clump to our right.  I took a shot but did not connect.

We reworked the trail back to the truck and Tina got two more points.  One was behind a couple of downed pine trees and the other was another bird in a tree.  It is crazy.  I didn’t get off any shots.

Tasha got the next spot.  It is a Hunter Walking trail.  It is one that hasn’t had any clear cutting going on for a while and the cover is pretty much past it’s prime.  Last year we saw 1 or 2 birds each time though but not any bigger numbers.

We were about 5 minutes into the trail when she went on point.  It was and easy one.  Straight away High House.  Our first grouse was in the bag.  We ended up working the trail for another hour before calling it a day because it was getting a bit toasty.  We didn’t see any more birds.  We loaded up and headed back to the cabin.  I almost felt like throwing on the swim trunks and going for a swim.

It was a decent start to our season.  No crazy numbers of birds but we were at least seeing some.

Tasha and Tina with our first grouse of 2016

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Deer River MN Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock - Saturday October 1st 2016

Deer River MN Woodcock

We left the Twin Cities Saturday morning and made the drive to the Deer River, MN area.  By the time we hit the woods it was 1 PM and it was already warming up.

Tina, the 14 yr old, got the first spot.  It is a shorter hunt and we have had luck at this spot in the past.  The cover was thicker this year than in the past and she had some issues getting through the tall grass in the trail.  We worked the area for 40 minutes but didn’t move anything.

Tasha got the next area.  This spot is one of our two favorites.  As we went down the second set of trails she gave me a flash point and a grouse took off out of a tree.  It surprised me so much I didn’t even get a shot off.  A few minutes later I heard her bell stop and then a grouse flushed.  As it cleared the woods it was coming right at me down the trail.  I spun around as it passed me and took a shot but it just kept going.  It was in the mid 60’s and next to no breeze so I wasn’t going to get too upset with a bumped bird.  I’m hoping that it won’t continue.  As we went down the trail we had a wild flush that again came from a tree. arrgg, no shot taken again.  The next section of trail was flooded out so we tried to work our way around it but ended up looping back to the original trail.  We went to an area that was lower but not too wet and ended up moving two woodcock.  One was a nice point but no shot and the other was another bumped bird.  We wrapped up this area after about 90 minutes and took a break to head to the cabin and get checked in.

I’ve rented the cabin for the month of October and will come and go over some long weekends.  It is a bit expensive but this lets me leave a fair amount of gear at the cabin between hunts.  Two main drawbacks though.  No internet.  No wifi at all and fairly slow mobile hot spot.  It is good enough for email but no streaming.  The second drawback is that after this year they won’t allow dogs any longer.  We got checked in, got the dogs plenty of water, and unloaded some of our gear.

We made it back out to the woods with about 2 hours of light left.  We went back to the 2nd spot that we had hunted and I took Tina out first again.  We worked a great looking section of trail.  This was much easier walking and the cover has grown nicely since being clear cut a few years ago.  She got birdy a few times but we didn’t move any thing.  Tasha got the call to close out the day.  We ended up moving 4 more grouse 2 of which came out of trees.  She did get a nice point on 2 woodcock.  I didn’t get a shot off at the first one but the second one was a nice point and when I stepped into the woods it flushed and went right down the trail and I hit it on a nice going away shot.

We got out of the woods with a little light left.  We ended up moving 7 grouse and 4 woodcock for the day.  It was great to see birds even if we didn’t do too much shooting.