In October we made a quick trip (can you call 3500 miles quick??) to Vermont for some ruffed grouse hunting. I was happy to be back on familiar grounds and it was fun to visit with friends while we were there. The scenery was as beautiful as ever and it did my heart good to hunt areas with vistas such as this:
Unfortunately, it seems that we must have forgotten to pay the weatherman's bill ahead of time and it rained all but 2 of the days that we hunted. Despite the weather, we shot some grouse and woodcock, hunted with some friends, ate Parker Pie pizza and drank good local beer. With the forecast of a soaking nor'easter coming in for the next 5 days, we cut our losses and headed home several days early. We were sorry it meant missing out on connecting with a couple of special friends but both of us and the dogs needed to get out and dry out. I managed only a few photos between rain showers:
Seems odd to see Mike wearing orange, doesn't it?
We find several deer racks a year, this one was fairly large for Vermont.
So interesting how moose are so large and sign is so fresh yet we don't see them all that often when bird hunting.
Dining in the OR. Ruffed grouse are my favorite game birds to eat.
We have been getting into birds every day with enjoyable dog work that is usually the discussion for the ride home and when reviewing photos that evening. The open covers in KS and MT are great for providing opportunities for good photos. This pic is my favorite so far this year, I love the colors and textures and it was taken at one of my favorite covers. In the center is Storm on point on a covey that she held a long time while we worked our way over to her. (click on any photo to see it larger)
Our typical sequence usually starts with one of us calling out, "dog down over here." I will take a moment here to interpret for my grouse hunting friends: it is a midwest quail hunting tradition that 'dog down' means that a dog is on point. It takes a little getting used to and I try to remember to explain it ahead of time to any friends who join us so they don't get concerned that we have an injured dog. But I digress..... Since we run 3 - 5 dogs at a time, the other dogs also know what that means and any that are around often head in to back the pointing dog. This is makes for safer shooting since we know where all of the dogs are plus there have been many times that a dog coming in for a back actually serves to block a bird/covey that was running. Once all are stopped I take out my pocket camera or Mike his cellphone, and we take a couple of photos. We then check if the other gunner is ready and someone moves in to flush the birds. It is quite civilized, if I say so myself.
On this point was the first time that I saw a covey on the ground when I went in to flush the birds. They were running around in the brush in front of the dogs and as soon as one bird made eye contact with me they were out of there. Mike was in position on the other side of the hedge row for any birds that might fly through it.
A few other pics