Every year at grouse camp, around a campfire or over dinner, the subject of the conversation eventually turn to future hunts, or more specifically, dream hunts. Ducks in the flooded timber of Stuttgart, Ptarmigan in the Alaskan bush, Red Grouse in the Scottish highlands; the list goes on, often changing year to year as goals are achieved, though most likely the influence of a glossy magazine spread. I, too, have a dream hunt, though I doubt it'll ever be realized for the simple fact it doesn't exist. It's a hunt I've dreamed up, equal parts common place and exotic, luxury and simplicity. It goes like is.
As a dedicated grouse hunter one might think my dream hunt would revolve around a species exotic to the upland range I frequent. Ruffed Grouse, Woodcock, Hares, and rabbits being common place, my dream hunt still targets these, grouse being numero uno on the list. Everything else is just a tasty target of opportunity. The cover I dream of mirrors that of the cover I hunt up north, with few exceptions. I envision hundreds of acres of timber land, managed and manicured into a checker board pattern of second growth hardwoods, and shelter giving softwoods, interlaced with a gravel gated logging roads. My logging roads are absent the logging trucks, and associated vehicle traffic.
I'd hunt this utopia in similar fashion to the quail plantations of the south, from the back of comfortable wagon outfitted with gun racks and dog boxes. But rather than having a long-eared mule, the wagon would be drawn by a smooth gaited Cydesdale. Eye catching, ain't it? Ruffed grouse being wary creatures, and grouse hunters royalty, the wagon would have to be modified to not only remove squeaks, creaks, and clatter, but to represent the ultimate in style. Well cushioned leather seats, with foot rests and drink holders, suspended above smooth riding rubber tires would allow horse and buggy to slide down the gravel roads without mechanical rumbling, nor hunter grumbling.
Sitting atop the buggy, we'd be entertained by the sight of a brace of setters, heads held high, coursing the cover in search of birds. One setter running on the left, and another on the right leave no patch of cover unturned. Though I must admit, a brace of setters on either side would be nice too, and running two brace of dogs would allow for a pointer to run a beat on occasion.
A dream hunt isn't complete until birds are shot, and for the retrieving duties I'd enlist a Springer, and a lab, deploying them on alternate retrieves, and pampering them in their well appointed dog boxes between.
I've yet to find an outfitter offering wagon drawn grouse hunts, so I'll have to do some serious wheeling and dealing to make it happen. I've got a plan, though I don't know if I'll get past the first step. It starts out easy enough, though, and I've decided I'll start tomorrow. Step one; buy lottery ticket. I'll let you know how I make out.