Dell Whitman, author and two grouses
Finally the best time of the year has arrived! Gone are the dog days of summer, after some great storms and days of rain the air is cool, the leaves are just starting to change colors and some of the ferns are starting to die.
And believe it or not, today was a great Monday! Well, I left home early enough to think that I was about to go deer hunting instead of being on the way of the joys and challenges of grouse hunting in the luxuriant (and really wet) forests of lower northern Michigan.
I was a Del's by 7:00 AM and after loading Zap and Gena in their crates we drove in a mostly southwestern direction. You don't really expect details on how to find grouse cover, do you?
During the first hour and half we only hunted Gena, and we had eleven woodcock flushes, mostly carefully pointed, plus a large amount of wild mushrooms. As we already knew where we will be at the opening of woodcock season next weekend and did not locate any grouse, we packed up and drove to Matt's home for the second hunt of the morning.
While we waited for Matt to arrive Del provided us with a crackers and goose liver patet and some mildly hot hunter's sausage, and I thanked him in the usual way, by pestering him any way that I can imagine, especially his choice of using an ugly "automatic", when anyone that any sense knows that only a side-by-side gun should be used in such a gentle sport!
After Matt got ready, Del released both Zap and Gena, but before doing so he attached a couple of brand new bells to their collars. I can't say that I like the electronic bippers, but contrary to some better writers opinions there is no poetry in those bells dinging and donging while the dogs crisscrossed the woods after birds. The bells just annoyed us.
Anyhow, on this second hunt we busted through some thick and heavy cover, getting wet to the bone in the process. The balance was another five woodcock flushed, one deer spotted in the distance, a rabbit that was pointed but not shot, and some grouse.
There were two wild flushes, Del shot a young bird pointed at the edge of a two track and I shot a not so young bird pointed by Gena under a tree that made a bee line to my left and was brought down by a 1 1/8 ounces of number eights from the right barrel of my old Laurona shotgun.
A bit latter Gena had a seizure, probably due to hypoglicemia according the vet, and thus the first morning of the 2014 hunting season ended.
I had to be out all afternoon, but tomorrow I will grill my grouse and sauté the mushrooms in butter as a side dish.