Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Living at the Edge

     The forecast for today was unsettled weather; a major storm, hurricane Sandy, was coming ashore miles to our south. So we took off early with three dogs, trying to get some bird hunting in before the weather went to hell.
     We put all three dogs on the ground at once, thinking that maybe they wouldn’t get a chance to run later. The logging road that we walked hadn’t been used in a while and a gate blocked access.  On the right side mixed softwood and maple, about thirty years old, grew, while on the lower left side predominately softwood grew with mixed age hardwoods.
     Abruptly the woods on the right changed to mixed age hardwoods with scattered softwood trees. We pushed in and worked the dogs parallel with the road. Where the softwood grew thicker along the side of the road, we headed away and around through the woods, following the edge of the hardwoods.

     Chara, the older German wirehair pointer, pointed first, and it took a few minutes to locate her and the silenced bell. A grouse burst upward out of a fir tree, taking off only a couple of feet above Chara’s head.  I shot, but to no avail, only blowing a small fir tree in two about eight feet over the ground.
     Pushing through the spruce and farther up the slope, another grouse thundered out of the top of a tall leggy spruce. A moment later, a second one followed, but on my shot feathers flew and the bird dropped like a stone. The dogs found it and the younger wirehair, Colby, brought it to hand.
     Up the hill Chara’s bell again went silent. We hurried ahead, through soggy ground and blown down softwood trees, to find her, but as I approached a bird exploded upward and went between Don Pouliot and I. After it was safely behind us, I fired and missed, then Don shot, then I again, but the bird never slowed.
     That’s when I learned that Don shot at a second grouse and knocked it down…in all the commotion I never knew that a second bird had flown.
     With two birds in the bag and after only a short hunt, we were feeling pretty giddy. We hunted back toward the road and then followed the edge of the softwoods on the far side of a side road. Almost immediately Georgia’s bell fell silent and we started to search for her. Don found her first and walked in, flushing a grouse across the road that offered no shot. Georgia never moved, and as Don walked past a second grouse flew up into a tree, and then flew again to meet a load of number seven and a half shot from my gun.  
     Three birds in the bag on an early morning hunt is a great way to start the day.

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