Before Winter Comes ...

Lots of great hunting the last two days. Sunny and cold both days, but good for moving birds around, and also good scenting for dogs and walking for us. It’s been a lot of fun, and we wish all of our days were like this. We have 3” - 5” of the white stuff coming in tonight and tomorrow morning, so we’ll see how that affects the birds and our pursuit of them.

Male ruffed grouse taken in Pittsburg, NH
My last morning in New Hampshire yielded nine grouse and one woodcock in about four hours out there. Rudy made some great points on some birds, and we also bumped a few as well. The largest group of grouse was a cluster of four birds together - unfortunately, Rudy could only point the two that were on the ground - there were two more that took off high out of the trees above us. John Kendall made a nice shot on a fleeing grouse that Rudy had pointed - it turned out to be a beautiful male grouse - one of the best of the year and a real trophy of the uplands.

Paul O'Neill with a fine northern Vermont ruffed grouse
This morning was the first of three in a row in Vermont, now that the NH muzzleloader deer season has started. Along for the ride this time was client and friend Paul O’Neill, who revels in hunting grouse with his lightweight British 12 gauge side by side. Paul’s done this kind of thing with me before, but both of us were surprised at the amount of grouse we saw today. We moved 21 grouse with Monty in the morning, with the largest group being a covey of six, one of which fell to Paul’s marksmanship. It was a tremendous shot on a grouse nearly out of range, and a great way to begin our day. While Monty bumped his share of grouse, he also made four or five nice points on birds, and he definitely worked more deliberately as the morning went on. By the end of it, Paul had three grouse to his credit, which is the most any of my hunters have gotten in a day.

Still, it was Rudy’s task to try to “tag Paul out” if he could. Alas, it was not to be, though he made a nice point on a cluster of four grouse in the afternoon - as so often happens, a tree got in the way and Paul couldn’t squeeze a shot off in time. We would move a total of seven grouse in the afternoon, for a grand total of
28 grouse over the course of the day. Quite a way to start our three days together.

Hopefully the snow doesn’t affect us too much - more reports to come!

Educating Monty

German shorthaired pointer with ruffed grouse and woodcock
Things are still cooking up here on the hunting front. Monty took me out for a few hours in VT yesterday afternoon, and we managed to harass a dozen grouse and two woodcock as well. While most of the grouse were singles, we did put up a couple of pairs and a group of three together.

It was great hunting to be exact - the action was consistent and exciting for all three hours. While Monty bumped his share of grouse, he pointed both woodcock and a pair of grouse at the end of our time out -
he's learning ...

Revenge of the 28's, Or Was It?

Veteran grouse hunters
It was my pleasure to go out again this year for a few days with brothers Chris and Chip Ramel and their hunting companion Frank Debord. Chris and Frank travel here all the way from Denver, with Chip making the short drive up I-91 from central Vermont. What distinguishes this group from all others is that they are dedicated connoisseurs of the 28 gauge, and after hunting with them now for a few years, I can attest to this gun’s ability.

Grouse and woodcock hunting at Tall Timber, Pittsburg, NH
There are days when these beautiful little shotguns are wielded with deadly accuracy, and there are others where the grouse and woodcock have more than a puncher’s chance of getting away to fly another day. All this really means is that they’re just like most other shotguns, in that you have your “good” and your “not so good” days with them, the only difference being that your shoulder isn’t aching from lugging a 28 around all day.

We moved, saw, heard and generally upset the daily routine of many grouse and woodcock in our days out together. In the end, they bagged two grouse and six woodcock for our three hunts - not bad, and the dog work from Dottie, Chris’s setter and Watson, Chris’s gordon setter went along well with the efforts of Rudy and Monty.
There were a fair number of pointed birds that escaped the shot patterns of Chris, Chip and Frank, but we had a lot of fun trying. They’re coming back for more punishment from me next year, so something must have gone right!

We now have very little foliage left, so now you’ll probably hit the trunks and branches of trees, instead of the leaves when you get that grouse shot off. Woodcock are still on the move through the area, so we should have good action for the next couple of weeks on timberdoodles. Watch the weather and keep checking the moon phases to determine when the best days might be.

The weather also became more seasonal this week - temps in the 40s and 50s most days, and while the rain hasn’t entirely stopped, it has moderated greatly from what it was. It definitely feels like grouse hunting season now!