|Sunday's Harvest - Ruffed Grouse and Woodcock - Deer River MN|
Friday Oct 17th 2014 Deer River MN.
My friend Mark and his 15 yr old son Martin drove up from SE Iowa to join us for a few days of grouse hunting. We got to the woods at about 4. I put both dogs on the ground since we’d only have about 2 hours to hunt.
About 20 minutes into the hunt Tasha went on point about 20 yards off the trail. As I bobbed and weaved my way in the grouse ended up busting out another 15 yards ahead of her, I didn’t get off a shot. 200 hundred yards up the trail the same scenario repeated with Tina.
We came up to the edge of the field and Tasha locked up tight. We sent Martin as the cover was pretty thick and we figured his young legs could handle it. One step into the woods and the bird took off. On the far edge of the field Tasha got another point and the result was pretty much the same. One step in and 2 yards out a bird flushed and no shot was taken.
Tina got two nice points towards the end of the trail and I at least got my gun up both times but it was the old “it flushed behind the one pine tree in the area” trick.
We didn’t move any birds on the way back. We moved a total of 6 birds in the first hour, took no shots and didn’t move anything on the way back. It would have been nice if Martin had been able to at least take a shot but he did get to see some nice dog work and see that hunting isn’t always like they show it on TV.
Sat Oct 18th - Cass Lake MN.
The team was in full force as our friend Tony arrived with his two GSPs.
After a meal of homemade breakfast burritos we headed north of Cass Lake. Tony was running both of his dogs and I stated with Tasha. Within 15 minutes all three dogs started to work the same area and with a couple of flash points the grouse got up. Three of us took a total of four shots and the bird was done. We all could claim that we hit it so it was a win all around. Tony was especially excited as his 2 yr old Beau Jack made a nice retrieve to hand. Until this bird he would find the downed bird but then just stand over it and not retrieve it. After another 15 minutes on the trail Tasha went on point about 10 yards off of the trail. I was able to work my way in and the grouse gave me a straight away snap shot and I was able to connect. At the time I thought I had barely hit the bird but when I was cleaning it I found that I hit it better than I thought. Tasha made a nice retrieve to the trail and when she dropped it one of Tony’s dogs picked up and made a nice delivery to hand.
We split into 2 groups with Tony and Martin hunting together so that he could see how someone else hunts and Mark stayed with me. About 15 minutes into this stretch I saw a grouse flush when Tasha over ran it. She didn’t see it flush and continued to work the area. She went on point about 10 yards farther up the trail. I was hoping that there was another bird. There wasn’t. She moved another 20 yards to an small area of ferns and went on point again. I figured it was still scent from the bird that got up but found out otherwise as I took a step into the cover a bird got up, shot miss, a second bird got up, shot miss, three more birds got up. I kept pulling the trigger on the over under but nothing. I reloaded and walked in a step or two more and another bird got up, shot miss. By this time Mark moved in and as I was telling him what happened another bird got up and we both missed. 7 birds and no hits.
We walked down 2 more branches of the trail towards a section of lower elevation. We saw a grouse run across the trail so I guided Tasha towards the area. She locked up solid and as I moved towards where the bird should be two other grouse flushed from the other side of the trail. As I turned to try to get a shot off the original bird got up behind my now turned back.
On the way back to the car we had one more nice point but the bird got up just a little too far out.
After moving to another trail I put Tina out and she got 2 nice points but they were in areas that were so thick I couldn’t even get my gun up.
We moved 15 birds and put 2 in the bag. We walked about 4 hours and our birds moved per hour was pretty decent but almost all of them came in two batched.
Tony had a couple of homemade soft tacos and drove back to the Twin Cities. He had to get up at 4ish the next morning to run the Mankato Marathon.
Sunday Oct 19th 2014 Deer River
We only had a couple of hours to hunt in the morning before Mark and Martin had to head home so we went to my favorite spot as it is close by. The was a pickup with a dog trailer ( never a good sign ) in the spot that we wanted to hunt so we went to the other side of the WMA. The side that we went in on has habitat that is a bit older and I haven’t seen as many birds on that side the past 2 years. We put Tasha down and after about 25 minutes she locked up on the side of a field and then relocated 10 yards farther up the clearing. I took one step in and the bird gave me a nice straight away shot and I promptly missed the easiest shot that I’d seen all weekend. We didn’t move anymore birds on our way back to the truck and we pulled the plug for the morning. We had a quick lunch, headed back to the cabin, they loaded up and took off for home.
I went back out and by the time I got to the trail the pickup was gone and I decided to give the trail another try. Tasha got the call and within 10 minutes she had a point and I was finally able to connect on the shot. It was an over the head “duck tower” kind of shot so I was extra happy to have connected. 20 minutes later I was able to repeat the process. At the end of the trail she gave me a nice point but I was not as lucky this time. On the way back to the truck I was able to harvest 2 woodcock over points. It was Tasha’s best outing to date. She hunted hard but in control and was really confident on her points.
Tasha got the call for the last bit of the hunt. We hit the edge of the field again and she got me a nice point and I was able to take my first woodcock with my 28ga. On the way back to the truck we had a wild grouse flush but I was not able to connect.
It was a good 3 days stretch. Not a lot of birds the first 2 1/2 days but it was great to get out and hunt with friends.
|Mark, Martin, and the team harvest|
|Tina, Tasha, and I with our solo Cass Lake MN Grouse|