We started the 2014 MN Ruffed Grouse season in Ely again. Our luck hasn’t been too good the last few years in this area so I was anxious to see how this year would pan out.
|Tasha Tina and their 2014 Ely Grouse|
We hit our first spot at about 9:30. 45 degrees, sunny, and slight breeze. I started Tasha the two year old setter. The trail spits into a Y, the dogs and I usually go to the left but this year we went to the right. The trail drops down to a creek that has been low or even dry recently. This year it was the highest that I’ve seen it in a while. Tasha plowed right through the deepest part and I carefully picked my way across. We made it to the end of the trail without any bird activity.
About 1/3 of the way back Tasha’s bell went silent. I tired to make my way back to her but the thick cover slowed me too much and the bird broke before I could get into a position to make a shot. Tasha continued to work the cover well be we didn’t make contact with any other birds.
Trail number two was Tina’s turn. Tina is 12 1/2 now and has me spoiled as a hunter. I can go on autopilot. I can just walk and listen for her bell to stop. About 15 minutes into her hunt I saw her locked up on the side of the trail. I moved into position and took one step into the woods and the bird broke, I was able to snap off a shot in the general direction of the flush. Tina went into the woods and picked up the bird. We worked to the end of trail and turned around. Tina continued to work the cover but we didn’t move any more birds. The trip back ended up being just a little too far and Tina started to limp about 15 minutes from the truck. I’m hoping that she is able to do a short hunt on Sunday.
Tasha got the call for spot number three. This is a shorter trail but we usually see a bird here. We don’t normally get one but we normally see one. Never more but one. This year Tasha was able to pin one and I was fortunate enough to get a shot off and Tasha was on the bird. Once I got to her I could tell why it had been an easier shot, it was the smallest grouse that I have ever harvested. I’ve taken a young of year but this one was half the size of most birds that I’ve taken.
We hit two more areas but didn’t have any luck but it was nice to be out in the woods again.
Overall we had much better luck than we have had in the past couple of seasons.
I put my hat in the picture to show the relative size of the tiny grouse.
Both birds cleaned. You can see the difference even more clearly.