I let the three dogs out, corralling each to put on an orange collar with a bell. With three dogs there definitely would be pandemonium and bumped birds, but I knew they all needed to blow off steam. Following an old tumbling stream, we hunted up the hill.
Everything in the woods dripped from the previous night’s rain, but the dogs never seemed to notice. We worked the edge of the cutting, and then out into the cut toward a cluster of softwood trees, which might provide shelter for grouse. Nothing. Working back toward the older growth, we hunted the edge of a softwood stand and then around back toward the truck. Still nothing. Soaked to my hide, I was ready for the truck’s heater, yet the dogs’ enthusiasm never wavered.
About a mile down the road, and surrounded by an old clearcut, a dense stand of spruce and fir spelled shelter for partridge on a stormy night. I parked and let out the girls. They plunged into the mesh of branches and I tried to follow.
A bird thundered away unseen ahead of us, and then I heard Chara’s bell stop. Colby and Georgia were working off to my right and out of sight. Wet, cold, branches clawed at my clothes as I hurried toward Chara. About the time I could glimpse a piece of the white dog through the green needles I heard the bird leave.
Coffee for me and fuel for all of us back at the truck!
The logging road took us up over a hill and along a ridge, into miles from anywhere. I found a side road that led into country that looked very good on Google Earth, parked, and started hunting up the road with all three dogs. The country looked perfect, and probably deserves another look sometime, but we only found one partridge that flushed ahead of us and one woodcock that Chara pointed with Colby honoring.
Everywhere I stepped seemed to be spongy, saturated to the point of soupy from the previous rain, and then rain started to fall again. With tired aching legs I drove out of the woods, the dogs all curled up on their seats. A few flakes of snow mixed with the rain at higher elevations, making it easier to call it quits for a while.
It was time to go back to the house and take a nap.