|The cover looks so different with the leaves|
gone and snow on the ground.
Temperatures dip into the teens at night. Snow cloaks the ground and distant hills can be seen between the gray trunks of bare trees. Winter is sneaking into the woods and the world is changing.
Our favorite coverts on the hillsides are empty. Woodcock are nowhere to be found. Most of the old apple trees have shed their apples, but a few trees still cling to their fruit. In the cuttings high bush cranberries glow red and can be spotted from a distance. Mountain ash that were so easy to spot a month ago seemed to have disappeared.
|Sometimes the birds are hard|
Bucks have rubbed the bark off of small trees. Deer and moose tracks crisscross the snow. Turned up leaves and soil mark scrapes where testosterone charged males attempt to attract the opposite sex. It is a different world than a month ago.
Down in the stream bottoms, where softwood trees edge the cuttings, grouse will be found. Often the dogs will point with confused looks, uncertain of where the grouse are, only to have the grouse launch from a tree, sometimes from unbelievably high. Occasionally birds will be pointed on the ground, but most of the birds have seen a hunter or two and will try to sneak away. The savvy dog will learn to deal with the runners, cautiously pinning them rather than flushing the wary birds.
|Maggie pointing a ruffed grouse.|