Habitat & Numbers Update

So we’ve been out a few times in the last week, seeing birds each time and there’s been a common denominator each time: young poplars were where the birds were found every time. Now, in each case we were bumping in to broods of grouse that were still all grouped together (6 in one group today and a grand total of 12 grouse together in what I figured was two broods together a few days ago). The bird numbers are looking good, at least as good as last year.

Poplars, popple, aspen, it’s all the same to us grouse hunters and it almost always means the same thing: birds. That’s because young grouse favor the leaves of young poplars over almost all other woodland foods. Supposedly, the leaves of young poplars offer more sustenance for young grouse than nearly anything else that they find out there, so that’s why we’re seeing them in these places now.

The million dollar question is what about during the hunting season? While grouse may not necessarily be
in these young poplar stands, they will surely be in the vicinity of these stands once the hunting season starts, so if you see a stand of trees with golden leaves (they look like golden coins hanging from the trees during the foliage season), head towards it and hunt around it. You may just stumble in to a bird or two!

Monty passed!

Monty starts his track
Test Day has come and gone, and Monty proved himself very well at the N.A.V.H.D.A. Natural Ability test. For not having seen a quail or chukar partridge before, he pointed them quite easily during the field exercise and completed his water retrieves without too much effort. His track of a pheasant was a little more difficult, but Monty did very well there too, pointing and pinning the bird on the edge of a marsh. The judges were impressed with his work ethic and cooperation and rewarded him with a Prize II, 107 points out of a possible 112.

We have more work to do before the season starts, but we’re really looking forward to the fall. In the Merrimack Valley Chapter’s supportive environment, it was a great day for all of the dogs and their owners - everybody passed the test! Thanks also to our frequent guest Don Day for taking his great pictures of the event.

2011 Spring Report

So far it’s been a wetter spring than we had last year, but it seems as though we have quite a few grouse that it made it through our winter. We had lots of snow for snow roosting, which may have made a big difference for the birds in making it through ok. Lots of birds have been sighted along the logging roads and I heard quite a few males drumming while turkey hunting over the last few weeks. A friend of mine in southern Vermont even had a male grouse come in and then put on a full display for his hen decoy - quite amusing!

Monty is continuing in his bird dog education lately, as he prepares for his N.A.V.H.D.A. (North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association) Natural Ability test this coming Sunday. He has lately been learning the finer points of water retrieving and tracking. He showed great ability last hunting season (as some of you know) with pointing and retrieving, so hopefully he stays on track for this season.

If you have a young bird dog and want to bond with and learn from your dog, preparing a dog for a N.A.V.H.D.A. test can be a great way to do this and forge your partnership with your dog. The tests are fun, non-competitive, and usually somewhat close by. Go to
N.A.V.H.D.A.’s website for more information on a chapter near you.

I’ll let you know how he does!!