Winter's Here ... For Now

Hunting grouse in northern Vermont
Good thing Paul only comes up once a year ... because I would need to find a lot more coverts to take people to if he was up here any longer. His shooting was “on” this weekend, to say the least, as he harvested 6 grouse and 2 woodcock out of the 52 birds we moved in two and one half days of hunting together.
Ruffed grouse bagged in northern Vermont
He hit them coming in and going away, and the grouse are very happy that he’s gone home, at least for another year. One of his most amazing shots came yesterday when a grouse got up quickly out of a cluster of small evergreens beside the trail. Paul swung quickly on the bird and pulled the trigger, only for us to see the snow laden branches of two larger softwoods explode ahead of us. Rudy charged ahead in to the cover to nail down the grouse that almost got away.

Grouse Hunting Lesson #763: Always shoot at a grouse if you have a chance, even with trees seemingly in the way.

The nor’easter this weekend only left us with 2”-3” of snow in most places, so getting around the woods takes more effort, but is definitely still worth it. While we only put up 7 birds and 2 bull moose over the course of Sunday afternoon as the storm wound down, we moved 16 grouse and 1 woodcock yesterday.
Ruffed grouse tracks in northern Vermont
The birds were moving more today, especially as the sun started warming the woods, and we found grouse tracks (but never found the birds that made them) on several occasions.

Ruffed grouse hunting in northern Vermont
Once again, in addition to all of the singles that we encountered, we also ran in to several groups as well - a group of three and two groups of four grouse together. While the work from the dogs was good, it was still difficult for them to key in on the bird scent for most of the day, so the snow must have had some effect. The prediction for the weather is a gradual warm up this week, so hopefully most of this snow goes away, at least for another week. After that, the deer hunters can have it for tracking their own quarry ...