Spruce Grouse and BSS
Following some planning and a lot of expectation my friend Bob Scott and I are again hunting bear with Jeff Helms of Agawa Canyon Outfitters (www.trophybears.com). We left my home in Traverse City at 5:30 this morning after attending the Ruffed Grouse Society banquet yesterday, and after crossing the Mackinaw and Sault Saint Marie bridges and driving the eastern coast of Lake Superior until Wawa from where we headed to Halfway Heaven in the Algoma sustainable management forest, where we arrived by mid afternoon and we immediately met Jeff, and the Halfway owners Gail and Steve, and soon after we met Joseph who came for a week of fishing and kayaking.
As both Bob and I where tired due to the short night and long drive we decided not to hunt today and went out with Jeff and Joseph scouting and baiting five or six different sites from where we will hunt during the week.
We found evidence of bear activity in all but one of the sites, and a trail camera confirmed the presence of a very large bear in one of the bait sites, and although we were not hunting bear I took my 20 gauge Browning side-by-side shotgun (BSS) just in case we would need better protection that the bear spray that both Bob and Jeff were carrying or in the case that we would come across some grouse, as I had never had the opportunity to hunt these awesome birds before.
After going all the baits Jeff drove us to a covert just by the roadside and after struggling around the dense forest for a while Bob, who earlier had volunteered to play pointer, flushed two birds. I hit one with the second barrel as it was about to reach the top of a tree. After I retrieved it Joseph spotted the second bird not ten fit above the ground on a pine. I saw the bird and could have easily killed it, but instead I flushed it, not without some effort and missed as it flew away and put not one tree, but half of a forest between us.
We tried to locate more birds but did not succeed, and as dinner time was already past we drove back the Halfway where Steve positively identified the bird as a female Spruce Grouse, the first bird of this species that I ever shot.
We enjoyed a bottle of Veo Grande, a good Chilean Cabernet and continued to talk hunting, fishing and related lies.