Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Big Valley

For months I searched Google Earth, looking for that elusive grouse cover that nobody else had ever found.  Clearcuts always show up nicely, as well as logging roads and major streams, but where was that hidden cover tucked in some out-of-the-way corner?  In New England there’s more country to explore than any man would ever have time for, so it is best to whittle down the possibilities.
            A big patch of forest caught my eye, appearing as a green quilt, with logging roads and clearcuts dicing it up.  A fairly large stream ran through the country, almost dividing it in two.  Bordering on one side, an entire township was private and behind locked gates, but entry on foot was still allowed.  In the other direction the logging roads ran until they petered out in the ends of the valleys.  The country definitely deserved a look.
            I found the logging road that left the pavement and then climbed and climbed into that country, passing some great looking cover along the way, and then about five miles from the pavement it crested the height of land.  Driving down into the valley I couldn’t believe my eyes. 
            Mountainous country ran off to the horizon, with clear cuts or forest on all the slopes.  Not a manmade structure could be seen, but I knew scattered camps had to be there somewhere.  The gravel road dog-legged down into the valley and then crossed a wooden bridge over a tumbling stream.  Ahead alders mixed with young poplars, looking like perfect woodcock or partridge habitat.
            Parking next to the bridge I let the dogs out, then dug lunch out of a cooler.  I listened to the stream grumble while I ate and the dogs waited patiently for their share of the sandwiches, but then the rumble of an approaching logging truck drowned out every other sound.  As it passed the driver waved and I returned the gesture.
            I’m not na├»ve enough to think that no one else ever hunts in that valley, but it certainly is a piece of paradise.  You can bet I’ll be spending some time there for years to come.          

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