Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Yup, that’s the kind of weather we’ve had up here the last couple of days, and, guess what, it’s raining right now as I write this. Still, that doesn’t deter the dogs from doing what they do best, and the birds were there after all ... but, not the most comfortable conditions for a stroll in the woods. The other good news is that all of this bad weather has dropped some of the foliage from the trees, so you should expect better shooting opportunites sooner than normal. Of course, this means one less excuse for you to explain your latest miss on a grouse, and you know that will happen!

Nevertheless, Randy and Leighton came along with me for two rain-shortened sessions in Vermont this week. Being veteran grouse hunters, they knew what we were up against due to the weather, but they were determined to find our brown feathered friends in any event. On Day One, we had some great dog work from Randy’s pointer Cocoa - she pointed and relocated beautifully on several grouse, only one of which offered a good shot (Randy is a catch & release bird hunter), with the others flying or running to safety. Randy’s GSP Nugget also worked well before the wind and rain reared it’s ugly head on the first afternoon, and we had a total of nine grouse contacts that first day.

Day Two brought first a light drizzle, then full fledged rain, with us being in the middle of it. Grouse made us forget our discomfort temporarily, as we started hearing and seeing them within ten minutes of leaving the trucks. Rudy did okay, but he was far from his best, as he pointed only three of the nine grouse that we encountered in the morning. Once again, a few grouse offered decent ballistic opportunities, but Randy and Leighton came up empty on those brown rockets. As you would expect, all of the birds were in the thick stuff, with plenty of spruce nearby for cover. By the end of the morning, the worst of both worlds had happened: we were wet and cold!

The Doctor Is In!

The start to the NH grouse season saw the remnants of a formidable tropical storm that belted us for two straight days, with October 1 falling on the second day of the torrent. Nevertheless, we are grouse hunters, and there were grouse to be pursued regardless of the weather conditions, so the answer to the question was simple: yes, we’re going out! I must admit that Dr. Bob Gabreski was a gamer under these conditions, and he was focused until the end of his time with me - fortunately, we took to the woods two mornings in a row only, so that we could recharge for the following day’s hunt.

All three of the dogs got their work in over the two mornings with Bob. Rudy had a very good opening day - several good points and patient work yielded some good chances for Bob. Greta gave a good showing the next morning with points on three distantly flushing grouse, and Monty also had a good hunt with his first grouse point under battle conditions near the end of his hunt on a running, and then flushing-out-of range grouse. Yes, they are running already folks, sorry to say, so we’re going to have to kick it in to a higher gear as the leaves drop and the dogs display “birdiness”.

How did Dr. Bob do? He dropped two grouse (both males) over our two mornings and he is planning his return for the opener next year too. While the action seemed slower on day two after the storm passed, we still encountered approximately 16 grouse and 2 woodcock over our two mornings together. Not bad, and the shooting should get a bit easier as the foliage melts away for another season ...